Now here is an article that we couldn’t have written 10 years ago.
It’s not a joke page, it’s not an April fools gag, and it’s not click bait; we are going to be exploring the likelihood of a space casino coming into existence and any problems this might pose or possibilities it may throw up.
The more you look into it, the more you realise that astro-gambling is nowhere near as crazy an idea as it sounds.
Afterall, there has already been a sports wager placed from space, space tourism already exists – albeit only for the very wealthy – and as a race we are pretty good at making the things we imagine turn into reality.
We learned how to fly with the birds in aeroplanes, we learned how to dive to the bottom of the sea in submarines, we can communicate via live video calls using wireless devices we hold in our hands, and we have travelled to the moon.
We haven’t quite figured out teleportation or time travel yet but let’s take things one step at a time.
As for casino gambling on the moon then, how might that come about, and what could it look like?
Space tourism is already a thing.
The super rich can and have paid huge sums of money to go out into space and experience zero gravity, view the earth from millions of miles away, and join a very exclusive club of those who have left the earth’s atmosphere.
However, that club is only going to get less and less exclusive as time goes on, until eventually, space travel may well be a possibility for your average middle class family.
You might be reading this and thinking it all sounds a bit pie in the sky, but think about it.
Back in the 1930s regular folk didn’t really travel out of their own country for leisure purposes – even as late as 1975 the majority of people would still holiday at British sea sides, almost 40 million of us.
Yes, there were those who could afford to holiday abroad, ‘on the continent’ as it was known, but they were the better off. The only time working people went abroad was to fight wars or serve prison sentences in the colonies.
These days, even those in relatively low paid jobs can afford to fly to France or Spain for a week’s all-inclusive every now and again – it’s a different world entirely.
Much like the idea of everyday people holidaying in space sounds crazy to us, holidaying abroad – especially via aeroplane – sounded crazy for working class people not so long ago, and look how that turned out. The Richard Branson and Elon Musks of the mid 1900s were going to Africa and China, but now they are going into space.
Since 2001 when Dennis Tito became the first space tourist, there have been billionaires paying huge sums to travel into space, but people have been exploring the idea since the 1970s. Depending on the type of experience you want – sub orbital, orbital, or beyond the Earth’s orbit – space travel is available for as little as $450,000.
Space travel will get cheaper, it’s inevitable, and some company somewhere will find a way to exploit that and turn it into a commercial enterprise.
Once that happens, space resorts will become a reality, either on the moon or on specially designed orbiting space stations, and they will need things for their guests to do.
Enter the space casino.
What Could a Casino on the Moon Look Like?
It takes about 3 days to get to the moon via spacecraft… not that there is another option, Stagecoach haven’t opened up a route yet.
This means that visitors would have to spend a long time in transit, so they would have to be made as comfortable as possible. There might even be activities on the ships, and gambling machines could be one of them.
They could also use their travel time to practice moving around, eating, drinking, and going to the toilet in zero gravity.
We say zero gravity, but in actual fact the moon has about 17% of the earth’s gravitational pull, and this would be the biggest challenge to overcome for any casino operator up there.
You might think the biggest obstacle for a space casino would be, you know, breathing, but in fact this is something that has already been mastered.
A process called electrolysis has been used on the International Space Station to keep people breathing up there for decades, without wearing any special equipment. This process uses electricity to split water into hydrogen gas and oxygen gas, and presumably the same process could be used in a moon based casino.
Sticking with the problem of low gravity then, and games like roulette and craps simply wouldn’t work on the moon, as they rely on things like speed, velocity, gravity, etc. – and the rules of physics are not the same on the moon as they are on the earth.
Even card games like blackjack would be difficult because, although things will stay in more or less the same place once you let go of them in space, they do move a bit, and the hustle and bustle of a casino could make them move more.
This creates all sorts of problems with potential cheating, not to mention getting the chips to stay in the same place.
Tables and machines can be bolted down to stop them floating away, but what about the smaller items such as cards, dice, chips, etc?
Well, magnets might be one method of keeping things like chips and cards in place.
Magnetic force is self generated, so a magnet would work just as well in space as it does on earth, therefore, creating cards and chips with small magnets in and then building a magnetic layer into the tables could well solve this problem.
More excitingly though, a casino in space could open the door to a whole host of yet to be invented games that just wouldn’t be possible on earth.
Games that actually use the fact that there is low gravity as their basis.
We are neither casino game inventors nor space experts, so we can’t give you any realistic possibilities, but games of random chance feel like they would be much harder to achieve, so perhaps there would be more of a skill element involved?
Liquid behaves very differently in the absence of gravity, so this might be another area that could be gamified in some way.
Even the sci fi world hasn’t yet invented anything like this to our knowledge. There are games like Sabacc in Star Wars, and Triad Cards in Battlestar Galactica, but they are all very similar to games that already exist, and none deal with the absence of gravity.
Nevertheless, the options here are far wider than they are on earth, even if no one has come up with them yet.
The Gaming Floor
One really interesting aspect to consider, is what the layout of the casino might look like.
On earth, the gaming floor is restricted to what can physically fit on the surface area available, with the ceilings and walls reserved for lighting and decoration.
Not so in space.
There is technically no up or down in space, so games could be installed above, below, and to either side of anyone floating in the middle of the room, creating a crazy immersive tunnel like experience.
If you have ever seen the 2014 movie Interstellar, starring Matthew McConaughey, you might remember what the colonies looked like at the end – it would be similar to that, but instead of farm land there would be casino games.
Our review of Interstellar, starring Matthew McConaughey? It was aalright aalright aalright.
Sorry. That was appalling.
Anyway, back to the gaming floor, and this could make things extremely interesting for anyone visiting, but also potentially overstimulating, and quite difficult to find your way around too.
After all, if there is no up or down nor left or right, how would you give directions?
People serving food and drinks would find it much easier to float from table to table, however, and they wouldn’t have to worry about spilling anything!
Once again though, cheating would likely become an issue here, unless the placement of the different tables and gaming machines was very strategic indeed.
After all, if players can ‘be’ anywhere in the space, above you, below you, or to either side of you, the likelihood of someone trying to spot cards and signalling to a friend is pretty high.
There would probably be ways around this, but it would definitely be a teething problem at the very least.
This is a massive consideration when it comes to space casinos and gambling in general, because without it, gambling would be (and once was) the wild west.
Space doesn’t belong to anyone. The moon doesn’t belong to anyone. So who is to say what can and can’t take place there?
If some crazy rich company decided to rock up and build a theme park in the Lunar Highlands, who has the right to stand in their way? Donald Trump didn’t manage to assemble his space force so presumably no one.
That said, the earth didn’t used to belong to anyone. People settled and created territory, sure, but the idea of legal ownership of land didn’t start until 1066, in England anyway. That’s about 1,000 years ago, and modern homo sapiens have existed for around 300,000 years (and our ancient ancestors for 6 million years before that). Now, every last square inch of the planet seems to be accounted for so, relatively, it took very little time from the conception of the idea of land ownership for all of the land to be snapped up.
So when the moon or any other planet becomes habitable with the help of technology, it is bound to become a hotbed for anything and everything that is restricted or heavily regulated on earth, isn’t it?
Unless of course the world comes together to manage this in some way, but let’s be honest, we can’t even all get along on our own planet, so what are the chances of us all cosying up to divvy up the moon?
Access to a land which has no borders, no government, and no rules, is bound to bring out the darker side of humanity.
Way beyond the idea of rogue casinos refusing to pay out (because who is going to punish them), or games that are fixed by the house, is the possibility for really bad things to happen.
In The Hunger Games, people bet on the survival of teens who are pitted against each other in a fight to the death. Ok, this is a movie, but gladiators used to do this in real life as a form of ‘entertainment’, and they won’t be the only example.
Could access to another planet or the moon open the door to something far worse than a black market space casino, where bets are taken on unspeakable events?
As Ridley Scott said in the tagline for his film, Alien:
“In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream”
That all got a bit dark at the end there, didn’t it?
It’s a valid point though, because as exciting as the idea of a casino in space might be, with all the potential for new games and fully 3 dimensional experience in no to low gravity – without regulation these things are not fun.
We have proven time and time again that we cannot be trusted, as a species, to behave rationally or unselfishly.
People cheat, lie, and hurt each other when they don’t get their own way.
A lot of the time, the only thing that stops that happening, that keeps us civilised, is regulation. We live by the laws of the places where we inhabit, and if we don’t we have our freedom taken away.
When it comes to casinos and their games, both operator and player must stick to the rules or they are fined/closed down, or asked to leave and banned from playing there again.
So a casino in space is not only possible, but probable, and maybe even a lot sooner than we might all believe, but in order to be safe and successful a whole new system of regulation would be needed, and that is very complicated, because whose jurisdiction would it fall under?
It’s a casino Jim, but not as we know it.