Grand Theft Auto has long been one of the top-selling video games in the world. But in the latest version of the game, GTA 5, there was a surprising by-product of the online side of the game.
The GTA 5 casino went viral on its launch, which was last July. Fans of the game went wild for the feature and its arrival on the game generated a whole load of attention from the media.
Are you ready to take it all?
Some of the reaction from the press centered on the suggestion that bringing gambling into GTA Online could be problematic given it is played by some quite young gamers.
But GTA has never been a game targeted at teenagers and anyone who is allowed to play it is highly likely to be able to gamble elsewhere, for example at an online casino. Licenses change around the world, but in most places, games in the GTA series are sold only to those aged 18+.
How does the casino in GTA 5 work?
GTA Online allows its players to buy in-game dollars through real-life currency. This in itself is not too controversial given a lot of other popular games on the market have a similar model.
Things that are for sale in GTA Online that can be purchased with the in-game dollars include weapons and cars, as well as various other cosmetic items.
The GTA Online casino also allowed in-game dollars to be spent playing casino classics such as blackjack and roulette, as well as slots and through betting on sports like horse racing.
But any money that was won by players could not be converted back into cash, which some people felt was not a very fair move from the game’s makers, Rockstar. Explained here is the difference between real money online casinos and the GTA 5 casino.
For a lot of people, the GTA Online casino is likely to have been the first time they have ever gambled, or certainly their first experience of an online casino. Some people felt the game could, therefore, act as something of a gateway drug by introducing gamers to the gambling world.
At the time, video games trade body Ukie was among the organizations to speak out against the launch of the GTA Online casino. Jo Twist, chief executive of the organization, described the use of “unlicensed and unauthorized secondary in-game item trading markets” as a “scourge”.
But the GTA Online casino was not available everywhere in the world, which was another factor involved in its launch going viral. Dozens of countries that do not allow virtual gambling blocked access to online casino games. While players could enter the casino in the game and walk around, they found they were unable to place any bets using their in-game GTA dollars.
Why do players love the GTA Online casino?
One of the reasons why the casino in GTA Online – officially known as the Diamond Casino & Resort – went so viral is that players absolutely loved it.
Playing GTA Online can really be quite stressful and users enjoyed the chance to kick back and relax with a game or two at the blackjack table. It was also possible to purchase a penthouse in the Diamond Casino & Resort, giving players the chance to upgrade their accommodation.
There were also some hidden perks contained within the casino. It was possible to get diamonds out of the casino’s security vault, although this option has since been closed.
Furthermore, the casino offered players to experience all the thrills and spills involved in gambling without any of the risks on the other side of the coin. You do not have to buy chips to use at the casino with real money, after all, as you can use the money you earn in the game instead. For many, the chance to gamble in GTA Online just made it more realistic and fun.
All games are played against the house, rather than other players in the game, so steps have been taken by Rockstar to distance betting in GTA Online from actual real-life gambling. It is also only possible to spend a small amount in the casino, which is another useful restriction.
Rockstar seems to have taken all of the necessary precautions to protect players. But the company’s reputation – and that of the GTA series itself – meant the launch of a casino in the game was always going to generate a lot of attention. Going viral was almost guaranteed.
That was probably Rockstar’s aim, too. The attention garnered by making the Diamond Casino & Resort a part of GTA Online likely encouraged more players to try out the game. At the end of the day, the house nearly almost wins, and the house in this story was always Rockstar.