With Grand Theft Auto V holding the title for fastest-selling entertainment product ever, it’s little surprise that in the five years since its launch, developer Rockstar Games has been continually updating it with add-ons and extra gameplay, ranging from weapons and vehicles to whole missions.
One of the newest, for example, is the Further Adventures in Finance and Felony add-on to the online version of GTA V.
But there’s also speculation abounding as there has been for at least two years about the possibility of a major new downloadable content (DLC) upgrade to GTA V that will be set in a casino environment. One reason for this is the presence of the Vinewood Casino building in the game’s fictional city of Los Santos.
Based on the real-life Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, California, it bears a tantalizing opening soon sign and although that opening hasn’t happened yet, could it be about to?
While Rockstar is keeping mum, there are certainly precedents; GTA: San Andreas already contains a trio of casinos where gamers can gamble (though not for real money).
And, besides that opening soon sign, online sleuths have discovered programming code on the GTA Online servers which appears to be laying the groundwork for casino content in the game.
Slots and cards
So what would a GTA V casino contain?
Let’s get one thing straight: it’s unlikely (although not completely impossible) that you’ll be playing for real money in a Los Santos casino. But in every other respect it is likely to mimic a real American casino complex, featuring a mix of slot machines and table games. Nobody can say with certainty precisely what the line-up will be, but tantalizing leaks and hints attributed to YouTuber MrBossFTW have focused on the possibility of three mini-games:
Poker would inevitably be one of the strongest contenders, along with blackjack and roulette. If so, it’s likely to be the Texas Hold’em version of the game made so popular by poker tournaments. Part of this variant’s popularity and its appeal for inclusion in any GTA V casino derives from the twists it adds to the basic game. Technically a variety of stud poker, Texas Hold’em offers the usual range of play options (fold, check, bet, call and raise) but differs from some types of poker in the way the cards are dealt. In Texas Hold’em, each player receives two private cards while five community cards are shared by all participants.
The LA factor
Of course, nothing’s certain yet. But another reason to strongly suspect that poker will play a big part in any GTA V casino is the status of Los Angeles (the city on which Los Santos is so clearly based) as the poker and in particular Hold’em capital of the United States. While the game is certainly widely available in other centers of the American casino world like Las Vegas and Atlantic City (with many hundreds of games believed to be underway in official gambling venues nationwide at any given time), the stats appear to put Los Angeles far ahead.
Indeed, according to CardPlayer.com there are around 500 poker tables active in just four Los Angeles casinos (more than in the top 25 venues in Nevada, the state where Las Vegas is located) and LA players have on their doorstep the three largest poker rooms in the world. Play ranges from pocket-change stakes of around $2-4 up to high stakes of $800 or more.
Despite the obvious contenders for a GTA V casino, there are still likely to be surprises when – or if- it’s released. It’s been suggested that it may also include betting on horse races, something that makes sense in an American-style venue: the United States is the home of the -racino- concept that combines a race track with a casino. Originally the gambling side of these racinos was limited to slot machines, but table games such as poker, roulette and blackjack are starting to appear.
And even if there’s not an actual track, there might still be betting on horse racing and other sporting events. Many U.S. casinos have -sportsbooks- which allow casino visitors to place bets on sporting events all over the country. Another possible type of gaming in GTA V is a lottery, a further feature that unearthed code seems to suggest, according to some enthusiasts who have been sifting the internet for a clues.
But many questions remain unanswered. Will the casino experience be single-player or multi-player? Will it form part of a -story- DLC or simply be a more modest add-on? Will the main point of the casino be to play games like poker there, or will it serve mostly as a backdrop for other gameplay? Will there be a heist scenario built around the gambling venue?
And, perhaps most important, will Rockstar even opt for a casino at all, or for one of the other DLC themes that have been rumored, including zombies, bikers and football? After all, in a game where existing missions already range from taxi driving to parachuting, almost anything could fit.