'Online gaming,' to most of us, has a very clear meaning. It means playing video games through the medium of the internet, often in competition or alongside hundreds of other people at the same time. It's a logical evolution of the concept of video gaming, taking the idea of a multiplayer game from being something you played at home with two or three friends gathered around a console, to something you played alone at home, with two or three hundred friends around the world.

There's a completely different definition of 'online gaming' to some people, though. To them, 'online gaming' is the practice of visiting an online casino website, and playing the games which can be found there. Those games involve placing bets, spinning reels or wheels, and waiting to see if you've won a prize. To put it another way, it means gambling. If an online casino site is just a virtual casino, how could it possibly be put into the same classification as video gaming on the internet?

WoW Ragnaros

Parallel Evolution
The differences between the two types of online gaming are no longer as stark as they once were. While the concept of online gaming has expanded into the current MMORPG era, the development teams who make online casino games have been taking tips from video game designers, and including aspects of video game design in their casino games. There are now many side games and bonus rounds in online casino games which wouldn’t look out of place in a traditional video game. As such, the lines have become blurred.

To those who count up the financial value of such things, there’s no difference between the two at all. The global annual revenue of online gaming is listed as being well over twelve billion dollars, but the stated market definition of that includes MMOGs and 'any game that can be played in an internet browser.' That includes online casino games, and so there's no separation between one thing and the other as far as the markets are concerned. MMOs and online casino games have evolved down parallel lines in the eyes of financiers, and are inexorably linked.

More In Common Than We Think
There will be some gamers who wouldn't like to be lumped into the same category as people who visit online casinos. People who play games like Fortnite, PUBG, or Star Trek Online don't tend to think of themselves as gamblers. You'd also probably find that people who are keen on online casino games wouldn't readily think of themselves as online gamers - many of them likely think the idea of playing an MMO game as 'nerdy.' If both parties took a step back, though, they'd likely see that they have more in common than they both think.

For a start, anybody who has ever bought a loot box without knowing what the contents would be and doesn't think they're gambling in the process is lying to themselves. Loot boxes are gambling, and they're likely to be regulated as such in the very near future. In some places, they're already heavily restricted or banned. Paying for something of unknown value which may or may not improve your playing experience is precisely what online casino game players do every time they put money into a game. A video gamer may be looking to acquire a new weapon, or a new character. A casino game player may be looking for reduced odds on their next spin, or an enhanced chance of triggering a bonus feature. The appeal and functionality are exactly the same in both instances.

If your definition of a video game includes concepts like levels, progression, in-game characters, or combat, you might be surprised to discover how far casino games have progressed in this respect in recent years. There are now games like 'Centurion,' where a player has to guide a Roman soldier up through the ranks of the army in order to win the best possible prizes. There are also games like 'King Kong Cash,' which contains a bonus game which is very similar in looks and style to the old N64 classic 'Donkey Kong.' Colorful and cuddly characters are the whole appeal of casino games like 'Fluffy In Space,' and 'Wild Worlds,' which contains entire battle sequences which will be very familiar to anyone who played and loved 'Final Fantasy VII.' In some respects, the biggest difference between a 'regular' video game and a casino game is that a casino game player is occasionally earning money from playing - although they're admittedly also paying for their gaming experience between wins.

Final Fantasy 14

Is MMO The Difference?
Having established that there’s increasingly little difference between video gaming and casino gaming - other than the fact that the latter is only available to adults and comes at a higher price - the only real difference between the two hobbies you could currently point to is that you can’t play an MMO casino game. That’s true right now - but it may not stay that way for very much longer.

Already, many popular video games have been recreated as casino games. It started with old classics like 'Street Fighter' and 'Tomb Raider,' but there's now an official casino game for 'Call of Duty,' which is one of the most successful online multiplayer games of all time. It isn't possible to play against hundreds of people online at an online casino right now - except in some online poker tournaments - but change is coming.

As 2019 progresses, more and more UK based casinos are testing out virtual reality software. There are multiple aims to this, but the primary one is to give users the sensation of walking around a real casino, interacting with other guests at the casino and playing UK slots together, and playing live games next to other live players. When the idea has been fully realized, there will likely be hundreds of players online at these slots websites at the same time. At that point, it will become increasingly difficult to pinpoint the precise difference between one form of gaming and another. As 'pay to play' or 'pay to progress' concepts become more common in MMO, the lines will only become more blurred.

What makes online games and video games different? In 2019, the answer is 'almost nothing.'