The GTA Online Casino has long been a source of mystery and intrigue for fans of Rockstar’s iconic action-adventure franchise. For almost six years, the establishment – also known as the Vinewood Casino, or Be Lucky: Los Santos – has been inaccessible to players, despite displaying an ‘Opening Soon’ banner both in the Grand Theft Auto V single-player campaign and the game’s online counterpart, Grand Theft Auto Online.
One of the offline title’s principal characters, Trevor Phillips, is occasionally seen being thrown out of the casino when players switch to him, suggesting it was originally meant to serve at least some purpose within the world of GTA 5. Early rumblings, as reported by Latin Times, meanwhile, suggested that casino-related DLC content could be on the way. However, with so many years now having passed, you’d be forgiven for thinking Rockstar had abandoned the idea of bringing fully fledged gambling to their most popular series.
While Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas introduced casino gaming to GTA players back in 2004 with the inclusion of blackjack, roulette, video poker and basic slot machines, the industry has evolved an awful lot in the proceeding years. Today, the online casino industry is worth billions of dollars annually, with leading operators such as Casumo casino offering hundreds, rather than a handful, of games and variations to players. Many likely felt that such an undertaking would be too ambitious to recreate within a console title, even for Rockstar.
Hackers Confirm Rockstar’s Plans for GTA Online Casino
It’s also worth noting that loot boxes, along with anything that may be seen to constitute in-game ‘gambling’ mechanics, have come under heavy scrutiny over the past couple of years. Indeed, many would have likely suggested that the developer was being smart by shelving the concept, as it’d likely have to introduce a secondary casino-only currency (that isn’t purchasable using real funds) in order to appease regulators. Such a move would have put many other companies off from pursuing such an idea.
However, as if any more proof were needed that Rockstar does things its own way, data miner Tex2 revealed last week that references to the GTA Online Casino were being included in the latest builds of the title, suggesting that its opening was now imminent; references that are now visible to all GTA Online players.
On Twitter, he wrote: “Just now, R* have updated the background script to set specific dates that will apply changes to the casino. You’ll notice changes happening near the casino as we move closer to release… Some props will disappear and new ones will appear, R* is going to make it look like the casino is under construction to open very soon.”
— GTA Series Videos (@GTASeries) June 6, 2019
It seems, likely, therefore, that we can expect to see the GTA Online Casino open its doors in the next couple of months, if not weeks. After such a long delay, it seems unlikely that simply including virtual versions of blackjack, roulette and basic fruit machines are going to appease and attract the title’s dedicated players. Instead, we expect Rockstar to look to the burgeoning real-money online casino industry for inspiration when it comes to crafting its in-world establishment.
Most Popular Casino Games of 2019
Today, themed slot titles that offer attractive return to player (RTP) percentages, intricate graphics and even story elements are amongst the most popular online casino games. Games such as Rich Wilde and the Book of Dead and Starburst are amongst the most played, with each borrowing elements from popular console and mobile titles such as Uncharted and Bejeweled, respectively. Rockstar may look to take advantage of this by creating fully-fledged spinoffs and mini-games themed around Grand Theft Auto or any number of their other franchises, which could serve as bonus rounds within Vinewood Casino’s slots.
Other notable online casino developments include titles with progressive jackpots and live casino, and it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see GTA Online attempt to offer aspects of each to players. While live-streamed games with real croupiers may be a bridge too far, don’t be surprised to see Rockstar look to introduce a social function to casino player – perhaps with online multiplayer versions of blackjack or poker, for example, where players could compete with their friends – or strangers – while communicating with the game’s already sophisticated communication systems.
With recent moves to legalise sports betting in the states, it could be that Vinewood Casino introduces wagering on in-game activities, too – think how cool it would be to watch your friends take part in a shady in-game street race or skydive contest on virtual screens within a sports bar, all the while being able to bet in-game currency on the outcome.
You might think we’re talking in slightly idealistic terms, but the technology within GTA Online already exists for these sort of activities for the most part – so it might not be as far-fetched as it sounds. Either way, we’re fascinated to see what Rockstar does with the GTA Online Casino.