While any talk of a casino in GTA Online has pretty much died away this past year, there was a time when it was one of the most pressing matters as far as the community was concerned.
Everyone was wondering when the “casino DLC” would be released, but it never game around.
And based on what’s going on in the industry these days, that isn’t a bad thing.
Grand Theft Auto 5 didn’t make much use of the casino as a location, it only appears briefly during one of Trevor’s character switch scenes when he’s being tossed out for cheating. This seems to contradict the “opening soon” sign on the casino, which otherwise looks empty at all times.
When GTA Online launched, the casino didn’t get any more functionality above the store mode, and that “opening soon” sign stayed right there. Players assumed this might be a hint towards some kind of DLC that adds a playable interior with actual gambling, or that it would be the location of one of the Heists.
Neither of these came to pass.
However the idea of a working casino with real gambling seemingly endeared itself to the community and players just wouldn’t shut up about it for years. Even though the microtransaction angle allowing players to buy currency would make it close to real gambling, many thought a DLC would come.
This topic was so hot at one time in fact, that a number of hoaxes and fake leaks related to the casino made the rounds.
Someone once modded an “opening next week” sign into the game and passed off screenshots as evidence, and in spite of literally everyone else still seeing the “opening soon” sign, more than a few hopeful GTA Online players believed it.
It’s more than likely that Rockstar had at one point seriously considered opening the casino, however opted against it, possibly because of legal concerns. When players can buy in-game currency with real cash, and then gamble with it, you’ve got a lot of complex legal and ethical issues to deal with. Had they done it, Rockstar Games and Take-Two would have likely been facing state commissions and governments instead of a few riled up conservatives wanting to ban violent video games.
However, now that another game managed to rile up precisely these same type of commissions and other government agencies (around the world), it’s clear that having the casino closed from the start was the right call.
Chances are you’ve heard of the Star Wars: Battlefront 2 lootbox controversy, a gaming industry shitstorm so big that various official agencies in Belgium, the United Kingdom and the United States have all gotten involved. Many have declared the game’s lootboxes to be gambling and also started analyzing other titles, such as Overwatch.
Now imagine what would happen if these organizations came face to face with actual, literal gambling, in a casino.
The debate around lootboxes exists because even though you can buy lootboxes with real cash and don’t know what they’ll drop, you still know that the content contained in the lootboxes is of a set “value” and that duplicates can be traded in for credits. This kicks off debates around whether knowing exactly what you’re getting is what makes something not gambling. But that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.
When you’re gambling with a representation of money, which works like real money, and that you can buy with real money, this ambiguity and room for debate disappear. These commissions would have leaped upon Take-Two and Rockstar had the casino in GTA Online actually been functional.
Even if they did it unknowingly, which we strongly doubt, Rockstar dodged a massive bullet by not actually opening the casino “soon” – or at all, for that matter.
What do you think? Sound off below!