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What is Virtual Sports Betting?

The popularity of virtual sports betting has increased exponentially in recent years, with sportsbook users keen to embrace new and innovative ways to generate earnings. Furthermore, younger bettors, who have grown up regularly interacting with simulated sports games, are already bought into the credibility of virtual products and are receptive to platforms using computer-generated graphics for the purposes of entertainment.

The landscape of virtual sports has evolved significantly over the last few decades as continued technological advancement allows software developers to manufacture ever-more impressive content.

Betting operators, with the support of their gaming solutions suppliers, continuously seek new ways to improve the quality of their output to retain their customer base, helping to maintain progress in this space.

Virtual sports betting is renowned for its fast-paced nature, offering multiple, short-duration events that facilitate many of the markets featured in bookmakers’ coverage of ‘real-world’ sporting contests. Given that these ‘sports’ are produced from scratch by software developers, operators can offer odds at any time of the day, allowing customers to bet at their convenience, as opposed to waiting for scheduled ‘normal’ sports fixtures. Virtual sports are delivered as if they were occurring live, and offer sharp on-screen visuals, extensive camera angles, and professional TV-style commentary.

The vertical uses a combination of highly complex mechanisms to produce its respective outcomes. Each virtually-configured competitor in any given race meeting or sports match carries a win probability rating, which is calculated based on the individual capabilities allocated to them during creation. In a sense, this mimics real sports, with players distinguishable by their skill level and natural attributes. These characteristics are then reflected in odds markets, with more able personnel/teams marked as favourites, and weaker participants positioned as outsiders.

The ‘luck’ factor is then layered on top of this by deploying a tool that will help to deliver an unbiased, unpredictable outcome, much like the random number generator (RNG) technologies seen in fixed-odds terminals and online slots.

The pre-defined abilities of the participants, alongside the integration of a ‘random’ element, are underpinned by an intricate set of algorithms, which merge these two considerations to produce authentic virtual sporting results. Quite simply, this method is designed to replicate the ingredients that would serve to determine the outcome of any ‘real’ sporting affair:

Implementation of each opponent’s playing qualities + plus the intangible variable of luck = result of an event.

Most Common Virtual Sports

As time goes on, new virtual sports are integrated into an increasing number of sportsbook platforms, which is partially helping to extend the volume of available markets within this vertical. Although not an exhaustive list, the virtual sports referenced below are the ones most typically found on contemporary sports betting sites:

Horse Racing

A sport synonymous with gambling, virtual horse racing was one of the early additions to the virtual betting world. Punters can bet on the winning rider, or alternatively indulge in a ‘forecast’ or ‘tricast’ wager, where predictions are to be made on either the first two or three participants, respectively. There are usually around 6-12 racers in virtual events.

Greyhound Racing

Bets offered are identical to those within horse racing markets. However, there tends to be fewer runner in these contests, with around 4-6 ‘greyhounds’ competing.

Tennis

Few operators have embraced Tennis in a virtual sports betting capacity, but those that do provide odds on total points, specific match score, and overall outcome. Given the length of time, it would take to play multiple ‘sets’; matches are scaled down to just one individual ‘game’.

Football

Given football’s global draw, the vast majority of betting sites feature virtual football on their virtual pages. Customers can place wagers across several points of interest, such as the exact number of goals, whether matches will produce over or under a set benchmark of goals, correct score, and match result. There are also ‘double-chance’ markets, which afford bettors to back two potential outcomes rather than one i.e., home win or draw.

Motorsport

In similarity to horse racing and greyhounds, virtual motorsport events facilitate bets on winning racers, and who will finish in the top two/three positions. Graphics often relate to formula cars.

Speedway

As above, however, the competitors are clearly equipped with speedway bikes.

Cycling

Same betting markets are available as the two sports referenced above. The action usually takes place in a velodrome.

American Football

A rising virtual sports force in the U.S given the country’s recent legislative adjustment to legalize sports betting in 2018, American Football enthusiasts can wager on items customers would usually find on typical NFL betting slips, such as money line, spread, winning margin, and total points.

Darts

Virtual darts boasts a host of different available markets, including checkout colour, checkout segment, checkout total, first three darts score, and ‘wincast’ whereby the bettor can predict not only who will win, but also their margin of victory.

E-sports

The recent rise of e-sports runs almost parallel to the surge in virtual sports. Clearly, there is a great deal of crossover between the two enterprises, with e-sports also reliant on computer-generated content to help engage and entertain its audiences.

In a sense, e-sports sit entirely separately from other virtual sports, as the outcomes are clearly mainly influenced by the human competitors operating the in-game controls.

Although there are plenty of available markets in e-sports betting, regulators have enforced stringent measures on the sector, given the average age of e-sports competitors.

What is the difference between virtual and real sports betting?

Although virtual sports betting producers, and their respective sportsbook partners and sponsors, are keen to re-create the experiences associated with ‘real’ sports betting, there are a number of notable variables between the two verticals. However, depending on the user, some of virtual sports betting’s distinguishing features might be considered a benefit rather than a hindrance compared to traditional sportsbook activities.

Key differences:

  1. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two verticals is the volume of available markets. Although virtual sports wagering operators continue to accelerate the number and variance of bets tethered to their events, the reality is that ‘real’ sports preside over a significantly greater suite of betting options.

  2. Given that the outcomes of virtual sports betting events are entirely a product of complex algorithms, there is no real skill involved in selecting a specific result. This serves up a very different dynamic from the ‘real’ sports environment, where punters are often keen to utilize their knowledge in order to gain an advantage. Virtual betting, which clearly doesn’t require the form to be studied, participant condition to be judged, or any other nuances to be considered, is, therefore, more accessible to inexperienced players than wagering on ‘normal’ sportsbook markets.

  3. Arguably, virtual sports are more likely to provide fairer betting conditions for customers. The outcome of these digitally-produced games is purely based on a set of consistently random, automated calculations, as opposed to the actions of a human. Therefore, there is no opportunity for event-fixing, and thus no way results can be dishonestly generated. Clearly, corruption in sport is minimal, but the very fact that it can (and occasionally does) occur increases the risk of fraudulent outcomes. Given that virtual sports betting is operated by those offering markets on its events is often a point of contention for many punters concerned that results are ‘rigged’. However, all gambling operators are subject to tight regulations around all of their activities, with huge fines leveraged for rule breaches – particularly for large corporate sportsbooks. Therefore, it’s highly unlikely that any sports betting firm would intentionally be non-compliant with industry guidelines.

  4. As previously alluded to, virtual sports events are usually much shorter in duration than ‘real’ sports. Whilst this offers an unprecedented level of availability in sports-related markets, it increases the risk of customers gambling too much money, too quickly. In order to mitigate against this, players should have a set ‘bankroll’, which helps them to budget their spending. True, this vertical has a more similar intensity and accessibility to casino games than ‘normal’ sports and should, therefore, be treated accordingly.

  5. There is no genuine emotional attachment to the participant roster in virtual sports – at the end of the day, these are just computerised figures. However, in real sports, bettors often have an affiliation with a specific team(s), or perhaps dislike certain competitors. The removal of this emotion allows bets to be placed without discrimination or bias and therefore increases the likelihood of making clearer judgements on potential outcomes.

  6. As virtual sports betting is mobilized to deliver complete randomness in its events, this can often increase the volatility and variance of results. A repeated outcome, such as a specific rider winning multiple consecutive races, is, therefore, more unlikely to occur in a virtual sports context than it is in a real-life scenario.

  7. ‘In-play’ betting is not currently offered by virtual sports operators, but this could feature in the coming years. However, given the length of events, the window for providing this style of odds market would be comparatively much smaller than in real sports.

Virtual Sports Betting FAQs

What are virtual sports games?

A virtual sports game is a computer-generated programme produced by software developers, created for the purposes of entertainment. In recent years, betting operators have used this technology on their respective applications and exploited its content to offer new odds markets to their customers.

How do virtual sports betting work?

Outcomes of virtual sports events are determined by two harmoniously-working factors:

  1. The pre-defined capabilities of the participants competing in the virtual sport, uploaded by software developers.

  2. A random number generator-style algorithm which serves to produce completely unpredictable outcomes.

A combination of these two elements produces the conditions for a reliable and honest betting market.

How do you win on virtual sports betting?

As per real sports betting, players engaging in virtual sports wagering can generate winnings via a number of different odds markets, contingent on the sport or activity. Like any betting act, individuals must back a specific outcome and hope that their desired result materialises.