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Why is Tesla so interested in “in-car gambling”?

March 6, 2023

If Tesla continues on its current footing, they are fully committed to using self-driving models, making human intervention virtually unnecessary. So the question is, “What should people do in the meantime? This is where Elon Musk has found a solution. He is betting high on the use of so-called “in-car gambling” with Tesla.

The company has already made about three games available with the latest software update and plans to expand this soon, even with a multiplayer variant! But what makes this technology so interesting to Tesla? That is the focus of this article.  

Online gambling as part of ‘in-car entertainment’ 

With the new concept of “in-car gambling,” Tesla wants to give a completely new experience to its users. Once it is possible for automakers to make cars drive themselves, there must also be something in the car that users can do in the meantime. Entertainment plays an important role in this, according to Musk. So that includes gaming and gambling. Although you can also play these games in the Netherlands, it is not yet possible to play them on your screen in the car. In fact, Dutch citizens must choose legal online casinos licensed by the Gaming Authority and can only play on smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop PC. Check for a complete list of the best online gambling sites in the Netherlands where you can play these games.

There are a number of important reasons why this concept is getting a lot of attention from Tesla. They see an important role for China in the rollout of the in-car gambling concept. Here we have listed the three main reasons.  

Chinese online gambling market 

The main reason is to conquer the Chinese market. Indeed, it is common knowledge that Chinese are huge fans of all forms of online gambling. Chinese who have lived in the Netherlands for a long time are also frequent visitors to physical gambling halls or casinos.  

It is no different in China. These include the following games:  

This is very noticeable since gambling is officially prohibited (online) in China, both for youth and adults. By offering several so-called Tesla Arcade games, Tesla wants to conquer the Chinese market. Indeed, if they successfully combine a self-driving car with in-car gambling, chances are that many Chinese will buy a Tesla. That is exactly what Tesla is after!

New Tesla factory in China 

A second important reason is that Tesla sees China as a major growth market. Despite Tesla not even selling 40,000 vehicles in China by 2020, they now have plans to build a new giga factory in Shanghai. In this new factory, some 450,000 new Tesla cars should roll off the assembly line each year. The manufacturer’s focus is on the Tesla Model 3 and Tesla Model Y.  

That is not the only thing, as there is already a large factory currently in place that should be able to produce more than 500,000 new Tesla cars annually. In total, the annual production capacity of the two plants combined should exceed 1,000,000 cars per year. Although some of this is for the Japanese and German car markets, the vast majority will be used to capture the Chinese market.

China as a pilot 

As a final important reason, Tesla let it be known that they see China primarily as a big test. The combination of its love of (online) gambling and the potential growth market that is China makes it the ideal candidate for Tesla to hold a pilot. Indeed, China is currently the only country where the software will be updated to the point where it will be possible to play Tesla Arcade. Therefore, it certainly cannot be ruled out that, if the test is successful, Tesla will decide to update the software and offer Tesla Arcade in other countries as well.

What does Tesla offer?  

With this new software update, Tesla is offering its Arcade games to users. Currently, it is not yet possible to use Tesla Arcade while driving. It is possible to use the software only when the car is in parking mode. This is the case, for example:

  1. Charging the car; 
  1. Waiting at the supermarket or in traffic jams; 
  1. Warming up the car in severe frost. 

In addition to having the ability to play games on the screen, Tesla also seems to be toying with the idea of including a controller with the purchase of a new Tesla. In doing so, they are taking in-car gambling to a completely new level, especially if they also manage to make multiplayer gaming possible.  

It is also worth noting that with its in-car video games, Tesla has more computing power than, say, a Playstation 5. With this, Tesla offers a very fluid gaming experience, something other car manufacturers are currently struggling with.  

Collaboration with Steam 

To provide Tesla owners with the widest selection of games, Tesla recently purchased a partnership with Steam. This is an online game library where hundreds of different games are available, including Cyberpunk 2077, for example. At the same time, this also provides another additional opportunity.  

Indeed, via Steam, it is also possible to link controllers from a Playstation 5, for example, to the infotainment system. An important note, however, is that the games are only available in the new versions of the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X, as these vehicles have more powerful hardware than their predecessors, making it easier to offer the heavier games as well.  

Competition from other brands 

Yet Tesla is certainly not the only automaker experimenting with offering online gaming services in the car. Indeed, it was recently announced that car brands BYD, Polestar and Hyundai Motor Group have partnered with NVIDIA. They will join forces to see if cloud-based gaming in the car is possible and realistic.  

That it is possible has already been proven by NVIDIA with its NOW Cloud Gaming Service. With this, they offer online gamers the opportunity to choose from more than 1,000 different titles, including popular games such as:

They too will explore offering owners high-quality games on their infotainment system. In doing so, they focus primarily on offering games when the car is parked. Yet they are also going a step further and working on ways in which passengers can also play in the back seat if the vehicle has an entertainment system. This also gives owners the option of online gaming when the car is running.