Virtual sports have been available in Europe for over a decade, but are just now making headway in the US.
In European markets, virtuals are a core offering at sports books and betting shops, accounting for as much as 30 percent of all sports betting revenue in major markets like the UK and Italy.
Yet, in the US, virtual sports betting is almost entirely unknown. However, that may be changing.
In addition to being offered online in New Jersey, virtuals are also available at several Nevada brick & mortar sports books run by William Hill.
In this column, Play NJ will answer any questions you might have about virtual sports.
What are virtual sports?
Virtual sports is a video game simulation of a race or sporting contest.
Viewers are able to wager on the outcomes of these contests in the same way they would wager on real-world sporting events in a sportsbook.
The teams and players are generically named, but based on real-world athletes. Like Madden Football, virtual sports athletes have different ratings, which are relayed to the player through the betting lines offered.
The teams, athletes, and horses all have their own skill set and attributes, and there are favorites and underdogs to choose from, as well as multiple wagers to choose from.
How often do virtual sports contests take place?
Virtual sports are available 24/7, around the clock.
In New Jersey, new contests start every four minutes. How often virtual sorts take place is customizable by the operator.
To fit matches into this condensed time frame, the results of team sports are shown in a highlight reel format, whereas horse races are shown in their entirety.
Isn’t this sports betting?
If you’re wondering about the legality of these products, virtual sports isn’t a form of sports betting because of the way outcomes are determined.
Like a slot machine, the results of the virtual sports contests are determined by a random number generator. As such, virtuals don’t fall under the sports betting umbrella and are regulated as a slot machine.
As such, virtual sports must return at least 83 percent to players under New Jersey’s gaming law.
What online casinos offer virtual sports in New Jersey?
The list of online casinos currently offering virtual sports in New Jersey are:
According to a press release by Inspired Gaming, the company has signed partnership agreements with virtually every online operator in the market:
What virtual sports games are available?
The virtual contests available at launch are:
- Horse racing
There are plans to add the following sports in the future:
- Dog racing
- Motor racing
- Speedway racing (bikes)
- American football
What wagers can I make on virtual sports?
Virtual sports offer a myriad of wagering options, with sport-specific wagers to make the already lifelike games seem even more real.
Horse racing wagers include the standard Win, Place, or Show, as well as Exacta and Trifecta bets.
Team sports like soccer provide even more options. Just like you’d find in a sports book before a real-world match, virtual sports customers can make:
- Straight wagers
- Money line wagers
- Prop bets
Some of the prop bets available on virtual soccer matches in New Jersey include:
- Predicting the final score
- Selecting the team that will score first and/or last
- Wagering on the outcome of the first half
Will virtual sports be available offline in New Jersey?
At least one Atlantic City casino, Resorts Casino, already has plans to bring virtual sports to its iGaming Lounge, located just off the main casino floor.
For the other casino operators it really depends on two things:
- How virtual sports performs online
- If sports betting is legalized in New Jersey
If virtuals approach the level of success seen in Europe, it’s safe to assume other casino operators will consider adding virtual sports areas at their land-based properties.
On-property virtual sports will become a necessity if New Jersey triumphs in its Supreme Court case and is allowed to legalize sports betting.
In Europe, virtuals thrive alongside real-world sports betting and drive incremental revenue.
“Our premium products have demonstrated an ability to drive incremental revenues for our customers globally,” said Inspired’s Vice President of Interactive, Lucy Buckley. “Furthermore, we believe Virtual Sports will be an essential acquisition tool and companion products for the potential addition of live sports betting in New Jersey and beyond.”