Whether we’re talking about slots titles with cutting-edge graphics and sound effects, or live dealer table games set in glitzy studio sets, it’s fair to say that UK online casinos are more immersive today than they’ve ever been. But things are being ramped up even further thanks to the rise of virtual reality technology. This is online escapism on a whole new level, allowing players to wander virtual casino floors and really feel like they’re exploring a new environment. Let’s take a closer look at this exciting new frontier in online casino gaming.
Best UK Virtual Reality Casinos
What is VR?
Virtual reality, casually known as VR, has evolved a lot in recent years. The blocky, chunky graphics of early VR have given way to truly life-like experiences courtesy of comfortable, user-friendly VR headsets. This evolution in technology has spurred exciting innovations in video games. Take 2020’s Star Wars: Squadrons, which lets players feel like they’re literally sitting in the cockpits of TIE fighters and X-Wings. In the words of a Guardian reviewer, the VR mode of the game is “childhood-fantasy fulfilment on a galactic scale”. Valve’s Half-Life: Alyx, also released in 2020, is another prime example of how advanced VR video games are becoming.
But how has the rise of virtual reality been impacting online casino gaming? Right now, the only UK-licensed casino offering real money VR experiences is SlotsMillion, but more and more sites are bound to follow suit in the near future. Plus, it’s possible to play non-real money VR games elsewhere online, simply for the sheer fun of it.
What Do You Need to Play VR Casino Games?
Although it is possible to explore VR worlds on the screen of your computer or mobile device, simply by moving around in a 3D landscape, a truly immersive virtual reality experience requires the use of a headset. There are a number of big-name VR headset manufacturers out there, so here’s a brief list of the some you’ll likely encounter.
Oculus is the brand credited with spearheading the VR renaissance in the 2010s. Today, the Oculus Quest 2 is one of the top headsets on the market – a wireless, all-in-one piece of kit which delivers a library of games and apps without the need for a PC or console. You can simply take it out of the box and enter virtual reality, although you should bear in mind that Facebook membership is required.
Another leading brand in VR is Vive, the product of a collaboration between electronics giant HTC and Valve, famed for operating Steam and developing the likes of Portal, Team Fortress 2, and Half-Life. The Vive Cosmos and the upgraded Cosmos Elite are undoubtedly on the pricey side, but the PC-tethered headsets certainly look like sci-fi pieces of technology, with the specs to match. Vive Cosmos headsets are a natural contender for any players looking to dive into the library of games and apps available on the Viveport and SteamVR platforms.
Nobody was surprised when Samsung got in on the virtual reality action with the Samsung Gear VR, which works in conjunction with Samsung smartphones. Users simply insert their phone into the headset for a quick, easy and cheap way to experience VR. The Samsung Gear VR is very much an entry-level device, mainly focusing on passive viewing experiences, educational videos and the like. It’s since been discontinued, but remains a fascinating chapter in the new era of VR.
Sony has also embraced the VR revolution with PlayStation VR, which is compatible with both the PlayStation 4 as well as the new PlayStation 5. While the image resolution may be inferior to the likes of the HTC Vive, going down the PSVR route means you won’t have to splash out heaps of cash on high-powered gaming PCs. Plus there’s the sheer wealth of PlayStation games which will come alive like never before thanks to the VR technology.
Exploring virtual worlds isn’t just about turning your head and gazing around in wonder. For example, both the Oculus Quest 2 and the HTC Vive Cosmos headsets come with a pair of hand controllers equipped with joysticks and tracking technology so you can seamlessly interact with whatever game you’re playing. That being said, some less complex VR games have been designed to be playable without controllers, using head movements alone.
VR Computer Requirements
VR games and apps are demanding to run. While the recommended specs for ensuring the best possible experience differ from brand to brand, the minimum requirements for the HTC Vive Cosmos give you a general idea of what you’ll need.
Processor: Intel Core i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350 equivalent
Graphics card: NVIDIA GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480 equivalent
Memory: 8GB RAM
Top VR Casino Games
What about VR casino gaming – where can you try it out, right now? Let’s take a look.
SlotsMillion has made its name as the UK’s first licensed real money virtual reality online casino. Its meticulously crafted casino floor feels utterly convincing as you go through the doors, stroll past the bar area and check out the rows of slot games, of which more than 40 are available. To experience the VR room, you just need to download the app, log in and put on your VR headset. Alternatively, you can play without goggles and explore the 3D casino floor on your screen.
Social Club VR: Casino Nights
Available on Steam, Social Club VR: Casino Nights really captures the sultry casino atmosphere, complete with table games like blackjack, roulette and poker. You can customise your appearance in its world, mingle with other players, and even take a break from the games to have a sword fight! Note, this VR game is all about playing for fun rather than real money.
Top casino gaming brand PokerStars has plunged into the virtual world with its Steam release, PokerStars VR. It places a huge emphasis on the social aspect of VR gaming, with characterful avatars, real-time chat with other players, and settings including a Monte Carlo yacht and even a space station. PokerStars VR isn’t played for real money, though you can make in-app purchases of chips, cosmetic props, and more.
VR Casino Developers
Just as with regular casino games, there are a number of software developers out there who are making waves with VR. Here are some companies that have caught our eye.
With offices across the United States, Perilous Orbit specialises in immersive VR experiences. Among the clever techies’ offerings so far are hit games such as SportsBar VR and the aforementioned Social Club VR.
Canadian firm Lucky VR’s mission is to create “the next generation of online casino gaming”. The developer has certainly made its mark by teaming up with PokerStars to create the trailblazing PokerStars VR game, which is one of the best ways to play VR poker online right now.
Headquartered on the Isle of Man, Microgaming has been a major name in casino games for around three decades, with its catalogue including blockbuster slots like Mega Moolah, Jurassic World, and many more. The company has been making strides in VR, even winning a digital innovation award for its first, experimental foray into virtual reality roulette. Big things could be on the VR horizon for Microgaming.
Real Money VR Casinos
When it comes to real money casinos, it’s still very early days for virtual reality. Currently, if you want to play for real money, your only licensed port of call in the UK is SlotsMillion, and the VR experience here is limited to slots titles only. That being said, things will probably change in the near future, with other licensed online casinos likely to incorporate VR into their offerings. In the meantime, you can enjoy social table games like roulette and blackjack thanks to titles like Social Club VR: Casino Nights, which let you rendezvous with friends or play against total strangers for fun.
VR Casino Bonuses
Welcome bonuses are par for the course at online casino sites, and that’s bound to remain the case as more VR casino sites come into existence. Typical bonuses include:
- Matched deposits, where the site gives new members bonus credits equivalent to a percentage of their first deposit (e.g. 100% of your first deposit up to £200);
- Free spins, where new members are awarded a certain number of free spins on certain slots;
- No deposit bonus, where the site gifts new members bonus credits without the need to make a deposit.
Remember to always check the terms and conditions with any bonus so you’re aware of potential strings, such as:
- Wagering requirements – the minimum number of times you have to bet the bonus amount, or free spins winnings, before you can collect any cash made through the bonus;
- Time limits – the date by which you have to meet the wagering requirements;
- Maximum win caps – generally, you can’t win limitless amounts using bonus credits.
Ready to Try a VR Casino Experience?
Excited about the idea of entering virtual casino floors and interacting with fellow gamblers from around the world? Simply compare sites and titles, sign up to claim any available welcome bonuses, and prepare to experience the pure escapism of VR gaming.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I win real money on VR casino games?
Yes, you can at SlotsMillion, which is currently the only licensed UK casino site with real money VR games.
Can I play VR games without a headset?
Some VR games do allow you to play without a headset. An example is the VR casino floor at SlotsMillion, which presents a first-person 3D world you can explore on your screen with no goggles required.
Are VR casino games legal?
VR casino games are perfectly legal, though we always stress that players should stick to casino sites that are licensed and regulated by a reputable body such as the UK Gambling Commission. Every site we review and rank at TopRatedCasinos is licensed by the UKGC, so you can be confident when playing at any of our recommended online casinos.
Marcus is Head of Content at TopRatedCasinos.co.uk and is currently based in London, UK. Along with managing content across the site, he’s an expert in all things related to online casinos, with a particular personal interest in poker and blackjack. Marcus was featured in iGamingFuture, discussing the important of promoting responsible gambling as an industry affiliate.