This Casino in Decentraland Is Hiring (for Real)

Decentraland’s Tominoya Casino is paying real people to staff the virtual pit in a job that game developers usually reserve for bots.

Mar 18, 2021 at 8:50 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 12:29 p.m. UTC

Modern video games are full of computer-generated bots that guide players through unfamiliar spaces with canned answers, and Decentraland, the decentralized virtual world, is no exception. But one of the metaverse’s crypto casinos is angling to put those non-player characters (NPCs) out of a job – by employing the players themselves.

Real-life hosts now work the floor at Decentral Games’ Tominoya Casino, helping newcomers to this crypto house of chance try their hand at digital roulette, blackjack and slots. For four hours each day, the greeters staff shifts in the metaverse. Then, at the end of the month, they get paid upward of $500 in DAI or the firm’s DG token.

The hiring push is an early example of real-life employment opportunities in the decentralized metaverse, where players who navigate user-owned landscapes swap cryptos like MANA for pieces of digital art, clothing and even land parcels – all recorded on the blockchain as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

In the case of Tominoya Casino, users can also place their crypto on chance. It’s run by proprietor Decentral Games, the distributed autonomous organization (DAO) that began hiring casino greeters late last month. At press time it has on-boarded 20 part-time greeters and a full-time manager to run the show, according to Decentral Games founder Miles Anthony.

Decentral Games’ NFT casino has generated “a little over a million dollars in MANA and DAI” for the DAO over the last three months, Anthony told CoinDesk. He and the other DAO members are betting that real-life floor hosts can generate even more by boosting table game engagement and improving player retention.

Going full-time

Anthony contrasted Decentral Games’ human-centric casino model with other virtual gambling operations, like the bustling casino floor in Grand Theft Auto, which he said “feels kind of empty” despite being packed full of soulless NPCs.

“They're all computers,” he said. “They're not actually real people that you can converse with and socialize in general with, so I feel like it's really important to have actual people.”

(Another difference between Grand Theft Auto and Decentraland’s virtual casino are the financial stakes. You can’t blow through real money at Grand Theft Auto’s craps table, but you could lose all your crypto at Tominoya.)

Decentral Games’ first full-time casino floor manager, who goes by the name GLHF, agrees. A veteran online poker player, GLHF said the social aspect of table games is extremely important to the table experience. Roving hosts help in that regard, he said.

“I knew it would be very helpful to have bodies in there just to welcome [newcomers]”, GLHF told CoinDesk in an interview. He onboarded eight gamblers on Monday alone.

GLHF was Decentral Games’ first hired floor host. A veteran online gambler with experience in bartending and sales, he quit those jobs in February to begin managing the metaverse casino’s growing army of greeters and hosts.

That means recruiting new hosts, organizing schedules, assigning shifts, solving personnel disputes, tracing performance and supervising the floor. Everything a real-world casino manager might be expected to oversee – just pixelated, distributed and recorded on Ethereum.

Inside an average shift

The hosts themselves are tasked with integrating first-time casino-goers into an unfamiliar interface, GLHF said. They explain simple tasks such as placing a bet or spinning a roulette wheel and complex ones such as loading crypto into their metaverse wallets.

They also offer tours of Tominoya’s floor. The casino doubles as a showroom of sometimes pricey NFT artwork; it’s an events space, too. Decentral Games’ upcoming Atari casino will launch in May with a one-hour set by DJ Dillon Francis.

GLHF said he’s established a workflow to deal with the kinks of metaverse management. Hosts share screenshots of their guest interactions – “proof of work,” GLHF said – in the team Discord to score points, for example. He emphasizes using active engagement to bridge the digital divide.

“You can't play a game with a robot and say, ‘Hey, man, this is cool isn't it? Wow, look at this,’” he said. “You know, there’s just that personal touch that I believe is worth the investment. And you can actually share emotions.”

(Note: Digital Currency Group, parent of CoinDesk, is an investor in Decentraland.)

DISCLOSURE

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.