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What are virtual sports? Find out with Slotegrator’s definitive guide

Nikolaj Plugatar
May 30, 2024
9 min
17062

High-quality graphics, real odds, and thousands of betting opportunities every day — enter virtual sports betting, where there’s never an off-season and always something to bet on. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about virtual sports.

What are virtual sports?

Virtual sports are simulations of real sporting events that feature graphic representations of players, horses, greyhounds, or anything else, with the results determined by a random number generator.

The high-quality graphics that virtual sports feature closely mimic live events, as well as adding entertainment value.

Unlike real-life events, virtual sports are not affected by external factors like weather or player injuries; instead, they are driven by random number generators (RNGs) to ensure unpredictability and fairness.

How does virtual sports betting work?

Betting on virtual sports mirrors the thrill of real-life betting, but with a digital twist. Just like in actual sports, enthusiasts can place wagers on virtual competitions such as horse racing, tennis, and football. These simulated events offer familiar betting options including predicting the outright winner, total score, over/under, finishing positions, and even parlay bets.

One of the key reasons why people bet on virtual sports is the constant availability of events. With races or matches happening around the clock, bettors always have an opportunity to participate. These events are often brief, typically ending within a few minutes. This allows bettors to watch condensed versions of games or races, offering a fast-paced alternative to real sports events and enabling frequent betting opportunities.

Instant determination of outcomes, along with the display of odds and potential payouts similar to real sports betting, makes virtual sports approachable for both newcomers and experienced bettors.

Are virtual sports rigged?

There's a common misconception among casual players that virtual sports are manipulated to favor casinos or sportsbooks. This belief, however, is incorrect. Virtual sports adhere to the same strict laws and regulations as all casino games, ensuring fairness and transparency.

It's understandable why some players might be skeptical. It seems all too easy for the sportsbook to rig the results. But the use of random number generators (RNGs) adds a high degree of unpredictability to virtual sports, similar to their real-world counterparts. This technology ensures the complete fairness of the game and its outcomes.

What is an RNG?

A random number generator is an algorithm that, as the name suggests, generates numbers without any predictable pattern.

Applied to virtual sports, an RNG determines the winner of an event based on predetermined odds. This way, favorites and underdogs have different chances of success, but predicting the outcome is impossible — for both players and operators. Technically, this makes virtual sports betting very similar to slots and roulette.

True randomness is very hard to produce: algorithms are predictable by nature. So a typical RNG either simulates randomness or uses some physical source as a base like atmospheric noise or the unpredictable fluctuations of hardware temperature.

There are many ways to set up an RNG for iGaming, with varying degrees of randomness, complexity, and transparency. Operators’ chief concern is that the RNG is sufficiently random, so players can’t discern a pattern and start predicting outcomes of virtual events. Players, on the other hand, need to be sure the operator is not manipulating the outcome in any way.

To guarantee that an RNG adheres to industry standards, online casinos and sportsbooks obtain Random Number Generator Certifications from independent labs. Also, certification is often required to legally operate in many regulated markets.

It would be fair to ask: How legal is betting on virtual sports? As always, legislation varies greatly from one jurisdiction to another.

In many countries, virtual sports betting is regulated along the same lines as real sports betting. For example, most EU countries permit virtual sports betting under national gambling authority regulations. In the US and Canada, regulations differ by state and province. In parts of Asia, Africa, and South America, the legal landscape varies significantly, from strict prohibition to full regulation.

However, in areas where gambling is restricted or prohibited, virtual sports betting may also be banned based on local cultural, ethical, or legal norms. That's why it's crucial to check the laws of each jurisdiction you plan to operate in.

Leave it to the professionals.

Our legal team is ready to help you choose the right jurisdiction for operating a sportsbook or casino. They will also provide consultation on obtaining a license and addressing other legal matters.

Virtual, fantasy, and live

While virtual and live sports betting are technically distinct, they often appeal to the same demographic of bettors. Bettors pick a sport they love and then either analyze the odds or just bet on their gut feeling. At the end of the day, the betting experience across both formats shares surprising similarities in terms of the emotional and psychological engagement of bettors.

However, a significant divergence exists in the pacing and frequency of events. Live sports betting is characterized by lengthy intervals between matches or races. Virtual sports, on the other hand, have a much higher turnover rate — there are just minutes between game rounds. This allows bettors to place more wagers in a shorter time compared to live sports.

Virtual sports are accessible 24/7 without any seasonal breaks or other disruptions.

For operators, betting on virtual sports can be very profitable. The outcomes, although influenced by algorithms that utilize real statistical data, remain completely random. This randomness protects operators from losses that might otherwise occur due to inaccurate odds or bettors exploiting insider knowledge. Also, virtual events are not influenced by variables that can impact live sports, such as weather conditions or player substitutions. This makes it easier for operators to set odds.

Of course, therein lies the main problem of virtual sports betting — despite its appearance, it’s essentially a slot machine. Bettors are unable to use strategic knowledge to influence their chances of success significantly. Some operators try to match real sports odds for a traditional betting feel, but the industry hasn't yet set a standard for simulating live events like football games or horse races realistically.

If this were to happen, it would bring the discipline closer to another form of gambling — fantasy sports.

Fantasy sports, a form of betting that has evolved since the mid-20th century, involves participants forming teams from real athletes and earning points based on these athletes' real-time performance in games. This model not only uses real-world statistics but also rewards knowledge and strategic planning, elements missing in virtual sports betting. Fantasy sports' reliance on live events allows them to operate with real events, closely aligning them with the pace of traditional sports seasons.

While inspired by fantasy sports, virtual sports represent more of an extension of the betting landscape rather than a direct alternative. Each betting style caters to different tastes, showing how sports betting can adapt and change according to consumer needs.

From the bench to the forefront

Before 2020, virtual sports were widely considered a niche gambling discipline — a bridge between online casinos and sportsbooks that appealed to a very limited audience.

But as the COVID-19 pandemic effectively shut down the live sports industry, millions of punters around the globe were left with nothing to bet on.

Not only did companies have to deal with the financial fallout of canceled games and interrupted seasons, but they also had to be ready for the possibility of similar circumstances happening again — and uncertainty is bad for business.

Sportsbooks all over the world shifted to virtual sports to offset their losses. In Sweden, regulators allowed sportsbooks to offer virtual sports betting with the same license to help operators survive the crisis. In the USA, prominent horse and greyhound racing enterprises like Hawthorne Race Course and Palm Beach Kennel Club started partnering up with virtual racing software providers.

In the UK, the Virtual Grand National was shown on national TV in place of a real race. Inspired, the company that provides the product has reported a surge of revenue in virtual sports.

Some companies were ahead of the curve. In 2019, Betradar launched a virtual Asian Cup, which proved very popular in the region. By the time the crisis hit, they already had a strong offering of virtual football, basketball, tennis, and cricket.

The reality of the future

The pandemic era saw a sharp increase in online activities, with virtual sports benefiting immensely. Physical sports events were canceled or postponed globally, leading fans to seek alternatives.

But is there a future for virtual sports in the post-pandemic world?

The rise of digital platforms and the increasing prevalence of online entertainment have profoundly influenced consumer behaviors. Today's audiences, especially younger demographics, are accustomed to consuming content on digital platforms and engaging with interactive experiences. Virtual sports cater to these evolving consumption patterns by offering convenient access to sports entertainment anytime, anywhere.

One of the primary drivers of the growth in virtual sports is technological advancement. From sophisticated AI algorithms to immersive virtual reality experiences, technology continues to push the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of virtual sports. These advancements not only enhance the visual and interactive aspects of virtual sports but also play a crucial role in improving gameplay mechanics and overall user experience. Realistic physics simulations, lifelike player animations, and dynamic environments contribute to creating a more immersive and engaging virtual sports experience.

The global market for virtual sports is expected to continue its growth trajectory. According to market research, the sector is anticipated to expand, driven by technological innovation and increasing internet penetration. As more people gain access to sophisticated devices and faster internet connections, the accessibility of virtual sports is likely to increase, reinforcing its popularity.

Furthermore, the integration of social features, where players can form communities, share achievements, and compete with each other, also contributes to a broader appeal.

Conclusion

Virtual sports offer a great alternative to traditional betting. With events available 24/7 and occurring every few minutes, there's no need to wait for a specific time or place to participate. As technology advances, the virtual sports industry is set for ongoing expansion. Both operators and investors in this field stand to profit greatly, given the industry's anticipated growth and development.

The betting market is a profitable one, but navigating the changing currents of the business requires patience and experience. Slotegrator works with providers, sportsbook operators, lawyers, and industry experts to anticipate market changes. If you’re unsure how to get started on your new business venture or need expert help to revitalize your existing operation, contact us for a free consultation.

FAQ
What are virtual sports?

Virtual sports are simulated versions of real-life sports events with high-quality graphics and animations. They are not influenced by real-world factors like weather or player injuries but are driven by random number generators to ensure unpredictability and fairness.

How do virtual sports work?

Virtual sports work by simulating real sports events using advanced software algorithms. Bettors can place wagers on these virtual events just like with real-life betting, predicting outcomes such as the outright winner, total score, and more. The outcomes of these events are determined randomly, ensuring fairness.

What are the types of virtual sports?

Virtual sports can include a wide range of activities, mirroring those found in real-life sports betting. This can include virtual football, horse racing, tennis, basketball, and more. Each sport is simulated using software and offers a variety of betting options.

What is virtual football betting?

Virtual football betting involves placing wagers on simulated football matches. Bettors can predict outcomes such as the match winner, total goals scored, and more. Virtual football games are run continuously, offering bettors numerous opportunities to participate.

Nikolaj Plugatar
Nikolaj Plugatar
Business Development Manager
Nikolaj started at Slotegrator in 2018 as a Sales Manager and became a Business Development Manager in 2022. Nikolaj is passionate about the iGaming industry — he is an expert in gambling markets and modern technologies and trends in development. He shares his knowledge about the most in-demand products and solutions on the market today and steers the gambling community in the direction of growth.

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