Virtual sports betting is very much a modern phenomenon, tapping into the ‘everything now’ culture created by new technologies that facilitate instantaneous betting opportunities on a variety of sports, with the action simulated using computer graphics. All events are protected by a complex algorithm that skews the balance of power in the favour of the market favourite or the ‘in form’ team, so while the result is pre-ordained virtual sports betting is far more than a simple game of chance.
Not to be confused with the equally budding market, eSports, Virtual Sports are simulated while eSports involve human influence. Both markets rely on the growing popularity of the virtual gaming world but on two very different fronts.
The concept of virtual sports is a simple one: to deliver wagering opportunities on a whole host of sporting events 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It has made it easy for punters to bet during the off season, for example, or where there are gaps in the fixture list. Courtesy of virtual sports, betting can be enjoyed at any time.
Many of the mainstream sportsbooks, including William Hill Sports, Coral Sports and Bet365 Sports, offer virtual betting alongside their ‘real world’ offering, which highlights the growing popularity of the concept. William Hill Sports' Virtual World platform sits neatly alongside football, horse racing, tennis and cricket on their betting frontline.
It is easier to understand the concept of virtual sports betting via a genuine working example. This virtual football match should get the ball rolling: a list of fixtures is presented alongside a fictional league table, with many of the traditional markets available, so the outright winner of the match can be wagered on as can a multitude of other fields. The likes of 'Correct Score', Asian handicaps, 'Over/Under 2.5 Goals' and 'Double Chance' are all included.
The match is then presented visually – think along the lines of the FIFA series of computer games – or, alternatively, punters can fast forward to the end of the presentation to check the results in the quickest possible timeframe.
That’s the key difference between the virtual realm and real world sports betting: results are instantaneous, and so it is easy to place a bet on almost any mainstream sport at any given time, rather than having to wait for the event to take place. Generally, there are different events across the sporting spectrum starting every couple of minutes as well. This is on-demand betting.
The key takeaway point here is that virtual events aren’t resolved completely by chance; each sportsbook uses a rigorous algorithm (which is checked by independent verifiers too) to ensure its virtual markets are fair and unbiased. So the form book and the recent results sections of a virtual sports platform are of relevance, and a bettor can wager with confidence.
Many more popular markets can be backed in virtual sports. This is particularly true of football, but covers horse racing and motor sports too, where punters can wager outright or each way, and place combination bets such as Forecasts and Tricasts.
The virtual tennis platform presented by Coral Sports offers a number of pre-match and in-play options. It is possible to bet on the winner of the contest before it begins or after it has started, as well as predicting the correct scoreline in the next service game and the total number of points that will be played.
As in the ‘real world’, virtual sports have given rise to a number of betting systems that aim to take advantage of prevailing trends. Some of these systems are well thought out and offer opportunities for punters to make small profits on a long-term basis, while others promise riches but in reality deliver very little. The skill is in separating the wheat from the chaff, but remember that virtual sport is consistent with the ‘unusual and the unforeseeable’ that prevails in real world action.
One system that has garnered a lot of attention has been devised by Frank Belanger, and while it is not foolproof by any means it does have its advantages over the likes of Martingale in that even if a losing streak is experienced, the staking plan ensures that the amount of investment required remains at a sensible level.
At its core, virtual sports betting is no different to regular punting, so it is essential to remember those well-rehearsed rules for success no matter which sports/markets are preferred.
Discipline is key – chasing losses is a no-no, as is managing bankroll from a business perspective and considering each bet as an investment. This way, it's possible to minimise risk and maximise the potential for long-term profit – the key building block to betting success.