Video games and online poker have always had a link to one another, especially with some of the world’s best poker players being former professional gamers. Now video games and online casino games are being linked for the first time with the latest update to Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V).
GTA V was released for the previous generation of consoles back in September 2013 and for the current crop of consoles, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, in November 2014. The game may be five years old, on the current generation of consoles, but it is still one of the most popular video games ever with more than 34 million people having played on the game’s online mode; that’s almost the entire population of Canada.
Rockstar Games, the New York City-based publisher of GTA V, has made a reported $6 billion in revenue since its original release and that figure could be set to soar after Rockstar Games unveiled a fully functioning casino for the GTA V online community.
GTA V’s Diamond Casino & Resort
Known as The Diamond Casino & Resort, GTA V’s casino is described as a “sprawling entertainment and luxury living complex.” Players can head onto the vast casino floor and use chips to play against the house across a variety of games. Currently, the casino offers Roulette, Blackjack, Three Card Poker and various pokies. There is even the Inside Track where players can cheer on their virtual horse during single and main events.
Players are invited to purchase a Standard Membership to The Diamond Casino & Resort for GTA$500, which includes a welcome gift of 5,000 chips in addition to granting access to several services such as valet parking.
Grand Theft Auto’s Chequered Past
Since its creating in October 1997, the Grand Theft Auto series has found itself making headlines for all the wrong reasons. GTA games are infamous for glamorizing violence, glorifying crime, and trivializing drug misuse. It is the controversial subjects and storylines that keep fans of GTA coming back for more.
This latest update to the online mode of GTA V has seen Rockstar Games’ pride and joy hit the headlines once again, and not in a positive light.
The Grey Area of Allowing Real Money to be Exchanged for Virtual Currency
Although GTA V players can earn GTA Dollars by simply completing missions, setting up their own businesses, and by performing bank robberies and heists, they are going to need more money if they are going to play in The Diamond Casino & Resort where new items can be costly and where they can lose money on the various table games and pokies.
In its wisdom, Rockstar Games has made it possible to exchange real money for the chips used in the casino, but there is no way to convert the in-game currency back to actual funds. This means any “money” won in the casino will be stuck in the players’ games until the time comes that Rockstar Games decides to stop supporting GTA V and turns off the servers.
The reason for not being able to convert GTA$ into actual real-life currency is because being able to do this would be considered gambling. While GTA V has an 18 certificate and is banned in numerous countries around the world, so should only be played by consenting adults, the game is popular with young teens and exposing them to gambling opens a myriad of problems.
The Cost of GTA V’s Virtual Currency
Players can already purchase in-game currency using something called Shark Cards. These are bought online or in some video game stores using real currency which is then uploaded to the players’ game. In-game currency can be used to purchase new outfits, weapons, vehicles and now casino chips.
Prices for this in-game currency starts at around AUD$11 for $500,000 but discounts are given for those who purchase larger amounts of the GTA Dollars, including $8 million GTA Dollars for approximately AUD$120.
Several countries have already requested their residents are blocked from using the GTA V online casino as they believe this is akin to actual gambling. Players from the United Kingdom will be free to gamble their real money purchased virtual currency to their heart’s content as the UK Gambling Commission told MPs it does not oversee in-game content of any sort as there is no official way to monetize winnings. Under British law, a prize must be money or have monetary value in order for it to be considered gambling.