The internet has given rise to some interesting innovations in recent years. From social media platforms like Facebook to cryptocurrencies, live streaming and more, the online world has disrupted our lives in multiple ways. Unsurprisingly, the betting world has also been touched by technology. Today, the average consumer can go online via their desktop or mobile and place bets, collect bonuses, watch live events and more. However, as is often the case with disruptive technology, things get shaken up so much that lines get blurred.
Within the last decade, one innovation that’s caused a certain amount of confusion is virtual sports betting. When you scroll through any list of top UK casino sites, the standout operators will offer some form of virtual betting. Indeed, 888 is just one example of an operator that effortlessly moves you from sports betting, to virtual events and casino games. For customers, this ability to glide from betting option to betting option is fantastic. However, by merging everything into one, it’s become unclear what some betting options are. Virtual sports falls into this category.
It’s Obviously Sports Betting…Right?
On the surface, the obvious answer is that virtual sports betting is a digital version of traditional sports betting. In many respects, that’s fair. Over the best part of a decade, developers such as Playtech have refined their products to the point where they’re just as entertaining as the real thing. In fact, on top of showing virtual football matches, horse races, cycling events and more, the latest products are packed with features. For example, Playtech’s virtual sports technology uses advanced 3D graphics and CGI to create realistic simulations. Beyond the aesthetics, you can also take advantage of pre-event odds and, more recently, in-play betting markets.
In this regard, virtual sports betting is virtually identical to traditional sports betting. In fact, it could be argued that this way of wagering on sports is better because the action doesn’t stop. Even though the best UK casino and betting sites now cover events from around the world, there are always quiet periods. With virtual sports betting, there are no need for breaks so you can ante-up 24/7. What’s more, there something to be said for virtual sports’ ability to tap into the zeitgeist. When you consider that eSports is projected to generate $1.5 billion in revenue by 2020, the line between physical and digital sport is now indistinguishable. From this, it’s easy to see why betting on something that’s essentially a video game has become popular.
Authenticity is Defined by True Randomness
However, on the other side of the coin, there’s the argument that virtual sports betting is more of a casino game. If you refer back to Playtech’s product breakdown, you’ll see that each simulation is governed by a random number generator (RNG). For anyone that’s ever scrolled to the homepage of the top UK casino sites, the logos of eCOGRA and iTech Labs are common. As per the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) guidelines, all casino RNG’s have to be certified as fair by a company like eCOGRA. This basically means that the results are 100% random and everyone is getting a fair shot at making some money. Virtual sports betting is governed by the same rules. However, as random as the results are, algorithms can’t account for truly unexpected events.
For instance, if you played roulette in a live casino, a weird turn of events could mean the ball jumps out of the wheel or lands in between two numbers. Sure, it’s unlikely, but it’s possible. Online, this wouldn’t happen. Based on this logic, you could argue that virtual sports betting is more like a casino game. Because you’re never going to see a dog interrupting a football match or a tennis umpire making a wrong call, virtual sports do lack a certain amount of authenticity. Now, overall, the latest products are a fantastic representation of sport. However, there is a certain X factor that technology can’t account for.
Overall, it’s hard to say that virtual sports betting isn’t akin to traditional sports betting. However, there are clearly some similarities to casino gaming. Put simply, the lines have been blurred but, in our opinion, that’s a good thing. Online betting is designed to cater to as many people as possible. So, if developers can create products that appeal to sports bettors and casino players, that means more interest which, in turn, generates more action. While it’s helpful to unpick the latest innovations and question their position in the market, the reality is that it doesn’t really matter. Regardless of whether virtual sports betting is a casino game or not, it’s entertaining and that’s the only thing that matters.