With opportunities to bet and win at any time of the day or night, virtual sports are taking the online betting world by storm. When you consider the popularity of sports simulation games such as Madden, FIFA and NBA 2K, it is no surprise that virtual sports betting has struck a chord with sports fans.
If you’ve ever wondered how virtual sports work and where to find the best virtual sports betting games online, this guide will take you through everything you need to know.
In this guide we will cover:
Let’s dive right in.
Virtual sports are computer-generated games in which the outcome is determined by complex algorithms. These games are usually based on real sports, such as soccer or horse racing, and played out visually on a screen.
Virtual sports have been around for decades. The first virtual sport was a baseball simulation game created by IBM engineer John Burgeson in 1961. The game pitted two teams against one another and used a random number generator and player statistics to determine the result. It even included a play-by-play description.
Since then, technology has advanced significantly and modern virtual sports use extremely complex algorithms. Motion capture technology also allows these games to produce staggeringly realistic 3D graphics and animations – often making it hard to distinguish from the real thing.
Anyone who has played sports simulation games will know how fun it can be to watch a simulation of a soccer or football match, especially if you’ve got an emotional stake in one of the teams.
Now all the top sportsbooks like bet365 and Caesars Sportsbook, which are already operating in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, have injected some extra excitement into computer-generated sports by giving you the chance to win money on the outcomes.
Put simply, virtual sports use a random number generator to determine the outcome of a game or race. But there are complicated mechanics behind virtual sports betting matches to create an unbiased, pre-decided outcome. It means punters will be on the edge of their seat following every moment.
Firstly, each participant in the race or game has an ability score. The probability of each participant winning is then weighted based on their ability. Those with the best ability will be the favorites and those with a lower ability will have a lower chance of winning. This produces a more realistic scenario, as well as a more fun game, as each event has participants with a range of abilities.
Of course, if it were as simple as the best always wins then the sportsbooks would go out of business very quickly. So in addition to this, an element of randomness, or luck, is introduced into the algorithm. Just like in real-life sports.
This is where the random number generator comes in. It works similarly to a slot game where the outcomes are weighted but the final result is decided by a random number generator.
So virtual sports essentially boil down to two things:
There is a common perception among casual players that virtual sports are fixed to ensure the casino or sportsbook comes out on top. This is completely untrue. Virtual sports follow the same laws and regulations that all other casino games adhere to.
It is easy to see how one might come to that conclusion. After all, the outcome is determined by the bookie’s own software so there is an element of the unknown.
While virtual sports can be more volatile than real-life sports due to the random number generator, rest assured that these games are fair and the outcome can not be controlled by the sportsbook.
One could even make the argument that virtual sports betting is actually more fair than real sports as a computer program cannot be bribed or corrupted. Whereas there are numerous accounts in real-life sports where an athlete, coach or referee has taken home a nice wad of cash in order to fix a match.
There are a variety of virtual sports available to bet on in the US, and more are popping up all the time. Here are some of the most popular games:
The great thing about virtual sports is that you don’t need any knowledge about the sport in order to get a leg-up. You don’t need to know how to study a form guide of a horse, what ground conditions they enjoy, or the trainer’s record in order to stand a chance of winning. All you have to go on is the odds given by the sportsbook, which makes it accessible to everyone.
Before its repeal, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) prohibited betting on real world sporting events in the US. But virtual sports, which are computer-generated, obviously don’t fall into that category. Whether or not virtual sport was considered illegal, PASPA has since been repealed leaving an even larger vacuum for virtual sports to flourish.
Whether or not your state has explicitly legalized virtual sports where you live may not matter. Many states that have legalized sports betting did not take the time to examine the issue of virtual sports and whether or not it should be considered sports betting.
A good rule of thumb when deciding whether to engage in virtual sports betting or not is to look and see what your local licensed sportsbook is offering. Sportsbooks, like DraftKings, are large entities that are always up to date and in compliance with local laws since the fines they may be punished with are not worth the risk.
Sportsbooks also use geo-targeting technology to ensure that where you are betting from and what you are betting on are in compliance with your state government. Therefore, it is a safe bet that if your licensed sportsbook is offering virtual sports betting in your state then it is considered a legal activity.
For more information on the legality of online sports betting in your state, check out our state guides.
Virtual betting may still be in its infancy but there are already sites and sportsbooks offering advanced wagering. Here is a short list of sportsbooks that may offer virtual sports betting in your state.
bet365 is without a doubt one of the most mature sports betting platforms on the market and now they’re a leader in virtual sports too. The types of virtual sports betting offered on their website/app are varied, with more options likely to come. The virtual sports offered by bet365 include:
If you’re familiar with betting on real-life sports then you will feel right at home looking at virtual sport markets. While there are fewer markets than you typically get for real sporting events, there is still a variety of bet types available.
The type of bets available depend on the sport you are betting on and the bookmaker you are betting with.
With virtual soccer betting you can check out the odds before the match for a host of different markets: win – draw – win, over/under, correct score and Asian handicaps.
Bookmakers like bet365 also offer double chance markets for their virtual sports betting, allowing you to pick both teams to win, or one team to either win or draw for example.
Similarly, when it comes to race events such as horse racing you will find typical bets such as win and each-way, as well as forecast and tricast bets.
Virtual sports betting can be incredible fun and a great way to get your fill if there are no real-life events to bet on. Here are some of the advantages virtual sports offer:
Virtual sports run constantly and typically last just a minute or two. With only minutes between events, the action is non-stop. There is no waiting around like there is for real-life sporting events. This means more fun and more chances to win.
No form guides, no managerial mind-games and no stats to analyze. Virtual sports strip everything back to the essentials, making it easy for anyone to jump straight in.
As previously mentioned, a computer algorithm cannot be bribed or be biased. You can place your bets safe in the knowledge that no match fixing, biased referees or other external factors will influence the outcome.
While virtual sports can be a great source of enjoyment, there are also some considerations to keep in mind.
The frequency of virtual sports is one of its selling points, but it can also create temptation to gamble beyond your means. As with all forms of gambling, setting limits and knowing when to stop is crucial.
While the low barrier to entry is another major attraction for virtual sports, it’s not for everybody. If you’re someone who loves to analyze the stats in order to make an informed decision and find value in the markets, then virtual sports may not float your boat. But we recommend keeping an open mind and at least giving it a try; it may just surprise you.
While virtual sports are random and there is not much of a strategy behind it, we can still give you a few pointers to help maximize your enjoyment.
Due to the fast-paced nature of virtual sports, and the volatility of results, you should keep bets smaller than you would typically for real sports.
At the end of the day, these events are more like casino games than sports. So while it is tempting to wager similar amounts as you would on your favorite sports league, keep in mind that there is no skill involved here and losses can quickly add up if you’re not careful.
Betting on a race with 4-6 runners rather than one with 12 runners means a higher chance of winning. Of course, this is reflected in the odds, so your winnings will not be as high, but we all love the feeling of winning so sticking to these smaller races will increase your enjoyment in the long run.
Virtual sports such as soccer, tennis and basketball only have two or three possibilities when it comes to betting on the result; win – draw – win. Therefore, the odds of winning are more favorable than a race event where there are more participants.
Virtual greyhound racing typically has 6 runners. So you still have fairly decent odds of picking a winner.
Virtual horse racing varies more but usually has between 6 and 12 runners. As a result, the odds of picking a winner are slightly reduced again.
With this in mind, it is about finding your own appetite for risk. This is different for everyone, but we recommend starting out with events where you have a higher chance of winning. You can always move on to more unpredictable events as you become more comfortable with virtual sports betting.
Online betting sites and casinos are very competitive with one another. Due to this, they frequently offer customers bonuses and special promotions to entice you to their site.
Make sure you are taking advantage of these offers. Betting with your own money is fun, but betting with the bookmaker’s money is even better.
Be sure to read the terms and conditions of every free bet or bonus as they often have special requirements such as minimum odds or rollover requirements.
Bankroll management is a key principle for all forms of gambling. Put simply, bankroll management is about setting a budget for your betting activity and sticking to it. We have four key tips for good bankroll management:
Some of these principles might be a bit over the top for casual betting on virtual sports, but they are good to keep in mind nonetheless. Read more about bankroll management.
While virtual sports aim to replicate their real-life counterparts as closely as possible, there are still some major differences.
As we have already covered, the outcome of virtual sports is random and therefore it is impossible to make informed decisions based on your knowledge. For sports fans, this is a potential downside as their knowledge and experience of sports provides an advantage in real-life sports betting, which they don’t get in virtual sports.
There is also no emotion in virtual sports. You don’t have an affinity with the team, or players, or jockey as you do in real sports. This can be a good thing as emotion can sometimes cloud your judgement when betting on sport.
Another difference can be found in the number of betting markets available. While the number of markets in virtual sports is increasing, it is still a long way from the dozens available for real sporting events.
Virtual sports can also be more volatile than real-life sports due to the random nature of the software. This adds a lot more variety to results which, while making winning more difficult, certainly keeps things fun.
For example, Liverpool FC went on an incredible 19 game winning streak in the 2019/20 Premier League season. This would be extremely unlikely in the virtual sports world.
With interest in virtual sports betting ever increasing and technology rapidly advancing, the difference between it and its real-life counterparts will become narrower and narrower.
One area where virtual sports will almost certainly improve is in its visuals. Graphics are integral for creating an engaging and immersive experience for players, therefore providers will continue to take advantage of new technologies in order to deliver more realistic graphics and animations.
Another obvious advancement will be in the betting markets available. As these games become more complex, so too will the betting options. We could even see in-play betting make an introduction. More betting options means a more varied and engaging experience.
We will keep this page updated with the latest in virtual sports betting, so be sure to check back to stay abreast of the latest developments.
Virtual sports are computer-generated sports games that use a random number generator to simulate the action and determine the outcome. These events are typically over very quickly with little time between matches or races, keeping the action fast-paced.
Whether or not virtual sports are legal will depend on the state that you live in. Check our state guide to find out if they are legal in your state.
Virtual sports are not fixed. They comply with the same rules and legislation as other casino games. Gaming legislators are very strict and no legitimate operation would risk the severe consequences of rigging a game.
It depends on the site you are betting with, but the most common virtual sports to bet on are horse racing, greyhound racing, soccer and motorsports.
Some of the most popular sites for virtual sports betting are bet365, Caesars Sportsbook, Bovada and Betway.
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