Players are flocking to virtual casinos in the Metaverse app

A Decentraland ICE Poker Lounge (Decentral Games)

Metaverse tourists are now heading to virtual poker rooms to bet on crypto wealth.

In Decentraland, a virtual space accessible through a web browser, visitors can select an avatar to visit a variety of destinations, Bloomberg reported. But the hottest virtual venue is ICE Poker Casino.

Inside, hundreds of cartoonish people in streetwear and sunglasses hover near poker tables to hear the sounds of a winning hand — a cash register or emoji pops.

In order to play, online guests must borrow or buy a piece of virtual loot sold by the casino — a hat, sunglasses, shirt, cigar — which can then be sold for cryptocurrency, Bloomberg reported. Poker chips can be used to upgrade items and increase their value.

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A Decentraland ICE Poker Lounge (Decentral Games)

Decentraland’s four poker rooms often host about half the people in the entire metaverse.

In Decentraland, the poker rooms known as ICE Poker are operated by a company called Decentral Games, a profitable gaming leader founded in 2019 and based in Virgin, Utah, according to Crunchbase. The company does not have a gaming license in the United States and claims they don’t need one as players don’t cash in chips directly after playing.

According to Bloomberg, Decentraland is an amalgamation of the two themes most in demand by tech investors: the Metaverse and Web3, a blockchain-based online decentralized ecosystem.

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An ICE poker game (Decentral Games)

People buy and sell the app’s custom currency, MANA, which has a market value of $4.7 billion. According to the creative director, around 600,000 people use the app every month.

Betting shops have become the center of the Metaverse economy.

Financial speculators spent more than $500 million buying virtual real estate in Decentraland and three other Metaverses last year, according to data from MetaMetric Solutions, reported by CNBC.

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A Decentraland ICE Poker Lounge (Decentral Games)

“The main problem with the Metaverse, even in the early days of ICE Poker, is the fact that it’s empty,” Miles Anthony, founder of Decentral Games, told Bloomberg. “So we’re trying to basically fill the metaverse with that, and it seems to have worked so far.”

Anyone can play poker in Decentraland as long as their character has the digital swag known as ICE wearables. Decentral Games sells them for around $5,000 each on its website. Each is a non-fungible token (NFT), meaning it is unique and can be resold on marketplaces like OpenSea.

Owners can also borrow them, often taking a portion of the borrower’s income.

Decentral Games has paid players the equivalent of $15.4 million, said Ryan De Taboada, the company’s chief operating officer. In one day in February nearly 10,000 people played poker at Decentraland. Of these, only about 11% had used the NFT to enter the country. The others borrowed one.

[Bloomberg] – Dana Barthelemy

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