In the digital age, there’s no room for the impossible — modern, advanced technologies offer a massive range of directions on how to make people’s life easier and more comfortable. And luckily, the iGaming market is no exception. For the last 15 years, the industry has seen a lot of changes, including one of the latest phenomena that has experienced a sharp rise — virtual sports betting. Operators should be aware of the most profitable markets within this field of gambling, their specifications, and their risks — not to mention their challenges. The main goal is approaching the market without any loss — that is to say, prevention is better than cure.
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Around the World
According to many experts, the African virtual sports market is booming and it is viewed as the most successful one worldwide. To put it right in a more specific way, we should note that the whole betting scene in Africa is mostly expanding on account of virtual sports that are available 24/7 on players’ devices, no matter what — even off-season periods don’t seem to stop punters from placing their bets.
The extremely high interest in virtual products is a green light for any bookmaker to add such a great product to the sportsbook, including online and retail ones. Let’s prove this statement right with the walking testimony to the huge success on the African market — Martin Wachter, CEO and founder of Golden Race (the biggest virtual operator in Africa). “People have a lot of trust in this kind of game. And I see even betting companies open new betting shops to have virtual sports more than the sportsbooks,” said Mr. Wachter, sharing his vision of the current landscape during the recent webinar “Virtual Games: offering unrivaled potential for players and operators around the world.”
In summary, the African market is totally worth taking the risk. The bottom line includes, for the most part, the right strategy and clear understanding of how particular regions throughout the African continent operate — one of the most crucial points that should be considered by any operator.
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The Asian scene of virtual products is quite promising and gradually maturing, but there’s always a “but.” And this “but” is tightly linked to the quality of graphics, since the Asian punters are as mad keen on placing their bets, as they are on watching the competitive part of virtual sports, even realizing that virtual matches are not entirely pure luck but instead based on a sophisticated algorithm.
Unsurprisingly, when it comes to the choice between virtual sports or videogames, the vast majority of players go for the latter. In the meantime, some gambling experts strongly believe that since the market opportunities are on the immediate horizon, all operators need to do is be patient and at the right moment make their move.
On the surface, the European virtual sports market does not seem like the most stable plank to stand on. However, there are a few countries that have found success. Italy (the biggest market in virtuals), the UK (having a lot of potential), and Spain (actively growing) are on the frontlines of virtual sports.
In addition, it’s necessary to understand that, throughout Europe, there’s a tremendous variety of traditional sport disciplines with loyal fans who aren’t just betting for the sake of betting but enjoy watching the games and the element of unpredictability. Operators should keep the fans’ love of action in mind.
Even having said that, it would not be right to label the European market as a heavy cross to bear. Just to be clear, operators ought to embrace the fact that a chance to reach the same level of revenue as in traditional sports betting is not a child’s play at all.
Currently, the virtual sports horizon in Latin America is not as bright as it is in Africa, but not as dark as it was 6-7 years ago. However, hoping against hope, for the last 3 years the virtual sports market has been growing relatively quick with a minimum number of unexpected turns, rises, and falls like riding on the roller coaster.
For instance, in Columbia, a huge demand for virtual sports presents operators with a potentially significant market that has experienced a noticeable rise in the last few years. At the same time, the punters in two other profitable markets for sports betting, such as Brazil and Mexico, are not so responsive to virtual sports betting.
Unluckily for operators, there is an ocean of obstacles in front of virtual sports betting in North America, most of which are quite understandable.
We need to draw a line between esports and virtual sports betting. The line divides the gambling market, to say the least, not in two equal halves — the incredible popularity of esports now is beyond the reach.
Besides that, only several states have legislated online sports betting, giving virtual products a shot in the online space. Among them, there are the following states:
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
Online Vs. Land-based Sportsbooks
There are several pros and cons to mention, speaking of online betting and land-based bookmakers. One of the most crucial sides of the question is punters’ engagement, which is incomparably higher through the internet than over a real counter.
This is not bizarre in the context of the 21st century — more and more people prefer the comfort of their own homes and the freedom to choose the resource and mobility for their entertainment.
Considering the above, operators need to realize that their success in the online gaming space cannot be feasible without a proper and stable internet connection in the chosen market for operation. For players, it’s pivotal to be able to watch and enjoy the simulated match, but not to observe indistinguishable pixels flying around on a device screen.
In conclusion, all operators who intend to add virtual sports to their sportsbook must pay the most profound and detailed attention to the quality of their platforms, making sure that they meet all the punters’ requirements. Quick onboarding, minimum clicks to bet, intuitive design, and proper functioning are the key elements to make players enjoy their virtual gambling experience.
A phenomenon as modern as virtual sports inevitably and perpetually faces different misconceptions. The most common one is where do virtual sports belong — in a casino or a sportsbook?
This question carries another logical one: what is the correct way for operators to use virtual sports? Technically, virtual products are seen as a part of the video slot world because of the RNG system.
Although many reckon that virtual sports deserve to be referred to sports activities, the majority of jurisdictions define virtuals as video slots and, therefore, consider them to be casino gambling. Nevertheless, operators think it is more correct to add virtual sports to their sportsbook, where it seems more related to betting, not gambling. The dilemma comes with another issue — successful cross-selling of traditional casino gambler to sports bettors!
Moreover, the line of questions moves along to the next point. Depending on the answer to what virtual sports are, operators have to ask themselves who their target audience is. What kind of players should they focus on?
We’ve slightly touched on that issue earlier, but it’s always worth repeating that graphics are one of the most important aspects of user experience. To retain your punters, you have to give them what they want. In practice, they don’t require much — a simplistic approach compared to a classic sportsbook, dynamic events, quality visuals, and flawless UX.
Development of the Product
Despite our wish to slow down the pace of time, technological progress develops by leaps and bounds, keeping all kinds of businesses on their toes. While time flies by, the punters’ standards are going up, which helps to move the whole industry forward. For operators to be able to offer an immersive experience to the end-users, the game developers are the ones who carry the responsibility to develop quality content with life-like graphics and adapt to customers’ constantly-changing demands. It goes without saying that offering choices for users within a single platform is crucial for retaining and acquiring clientele. Also, operators need to accept the reality that dictating in-game customization features will spread the wings of any business. Otherwise, if the choice of bet types and UX are poor, losing the audience to competitors is simply inevitable. Moreover, the same template-like approach will not necessarily work for different markets — it is crucial for the operators to consider the market-specific needs and adapt accordingly.
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The technological side of the topic is also considered to be noteworthy for the following reason: various jurisdictions have their own specifications and regulations that they apply to the virtual sports market in terms of game certifications. To be legitimate means to be trustworthy, and trust is something that an operator cannot risk under any circumstances.
Last but not least, the easy onboarding process and short game sessions will no doubt fit punters’ basic needs. There are a few reasons for that: short sessions are perfectly designed for filling gaps between real matches within the traditional sport, in addition to human factors — a short attention span and a desire for instant gratification. Punters value their time and a quality game experience; therefore, they would prefer to keep placing bets rather than waiting for a game result.
That’s why at present virtual products should be considered to be taking only first baby steps, and thus operators ought to be geared up for facing tons of risks and doubts. This growing market still requires 3 to 5 years to start to develop. Besides that, among the current challenges, operators find stringent laws and regulations, which don’t do much to help the market on a path to success.
Read also: Why to Integrate Virtual Sports?