The things that can be done in-flight have evolved tremendously since the first days of commercial flying – from custom-made meals to reclining beds to fully connected Wi-Fi on board.

But there is still one issue that many people would like to improve on their flights. Whether they’ve been flying for 45 minutes to another city in the country or near 24 hours to reach the other side of the world, every single passenger needs to be entertained.

Could the feelings of a Monaco casino be translated into the air? • Source: Pixabay

Entertainment options on flights have come a long way – and vary from flight to flight – but there is still something lacking that gives people a headache when it comes to boarding the plane and knowing they’ll be sat in the same spot for some time.

So, what can be done in order to improve the entertainment options in-flight – and could online gambling be responsible for revolutionizing their in-flight entertainment?

Could Poker Be the Solution to In-Flight Entertainment?

There is a range of entertainment options available for flyers currently, including a selection of games such as crosswords, sudoku, and tic-tac-toe. These games, however, never really stoked excitement for passengers and didn’t offer them anything that different than playing the same game with paper and pen.

The first step towards creating something different when it came to in-flight entertainment was the creation of free video poker.

Gambling onboard isn’t new – in fact, Singapore Airlines even trialed lightweight slot machines in the aisles in 1981. In the 1990s, Swissair experimented with in-flight casino software, while Virgin Atlantic announced in 2005 that they would have a casino onboard.

For the average flyer, however, those who planned what passengers would do to entertain themselves realized that merely watching or listening to something just wasn’t enough and that those flying wanted something to do.

This mainly came from the need to remain stimulated. If your body is made to stay in one position for such a length of time, exercising your mind could be the next best step to prevent the boredom.

The current video poker onboard is successful and has allowed players to play alone or even challenge their seatmates. Could the next step be moving towards real-money poker?

The rise of online casino means that there are many options such as poker and its many variants, including Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha Hi/Lo, as well as live versions of these games with real dealers. But there are also other casino games such as roulette, slots, baccarat, and blackjack that could be added to create a complete range of online casino games.

Real-money video poker is popular and played by a variety of audiences, meaning those who would be flying would fall into the target market.  

What Would an In-Flight Online Poker Game Look Like?

The development of an in-flight game of poker could be a feat of gaming technology, bringing the very latest in air travel with the best in online casino technology.

Partnering with developers such as 888poker, which produce poker cash games that allow us to play as many or as few hands as we like, can help create relevant and suitable games for transient activities such as flying.

The games are suitable for a wide range of audiences and take into account the different variants and rules of poker, with the possibility of building games around air-travel themes helping to engage players.

Multiplayer games like poker when played between passengers on the same flight could be a step forward in fostering social connections while flying. Players could see one another playing, have a leaderboard that outlines who is doing well and who is the one to beat.

Players could even challenge one another to games and could build a dialogue between themselves, forging friendships in the otherwise solitary activity of flying. When mainstream console gaming gained its social element with multiplayer modes, it changed from being a solitary pursuit to being one that builds communities.

Games like poker could even lead to competitions each season between all flyers of the airline as part of a reward program, and playing the poker game could be an integral aspect of choosing an airline as much as airport destination and legroom may be.

By expanding, as Branson suggested with Virgin, to a casino area on the plane, it could give flyers an opportunity to stretch their legs and indulge in entertainment like they never have before.

A specific gambling area on the plane doesn’t need to be too sophisticated – a custom Boeing 777 was designed to help inspire passenger interactions.  

What are Current Poker Offerings Like?

The gross revenue from online poker worldwide grew from $300 million in 2003 to a staggering $6.7 billion in 2012, with this popularity only set to grow as hyper-casual gaming becomes many players’ favorite format.

The advent of mobile gaming also gave online poker a boost as the game translates well to the mobile gaming platform, with players picking up games as it suits them for as short a time as they might want to play for.

Current modes of online poker include a live version, which takes into account live streaming technology to allow a real dealer to interact with players.

While the webcam won’t yet allow the players to interact back – and many wouldn’t want this – the knowledge that someone real is in front of you helps stimulate the need improve the ability to bluff and conceal cards.

Taking this a step further on a plane could integrate passengers who play together. Other online and mobile poker games feature different variants including European rules roulette, Texas Hold ‘Em poker, and Seven-Card Stud, so offering a range of games applied to an airline setting could help break up the fatigue of longer flights. 

Real-money gambling wouldn’t be such a huge stretch, compared with what’s currently offered by airlines – but it would drastically add to the entertainment offered to passengers onboard many planes. Some already run a lottery competition on board, such as British holidaymakers TUI and Thomas Cook.

Allowing passengers to indulge in state-of-the-art technology could be a game-changer that solves the problem of lack of entertainment. The nature of the game will give players something to do that isn’t just sitting there and watching something, and the live technology and the possibility of playing and competing with others could bring a social element to flying that currently is fairly non-existent.