Throughout the world over three billion people are in some kind of lockdown and billions more are being cautioned to stay at home as much as possible to distance themselves socially and refrain from any type of gathering. If the coronavirus pandemic was to have erupted 50 years ago, such restrictions would have meant a sports industry shutdown. Yet creative minds have simply revised Vegas casino online sporting competitions to include online matches where gamers can participate virtually.
One way in which this is happening involves virtual sporting contests. Such electronic games create visual feedback on a PC or mobile device. These games are inspired by real sporting events. They originated with fantasy sporting events and have evolved to a genre of sports which can be played by a group of friends and onward to events that can be played among competitors from around the world. Thanks to motion capture technology which is now a part of today’s PCs, participating gamers are able to engage in – and wager on -- complex sporting animations.
That means that, even though stadium events – including Euro 2020 and the Tokyo Olympics -- won’t be happening in the near future, organizers can generate advertising and sports betting revenue via broadcasts of virtual sports on Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and even on traditional TV platforms.
New Options for Sports Fans
Archaeologists and anthropologists tell us that humans have held sporting events for thousands of years. Some are well known – chariot races in ancient Egypt and the Olympics of Ancient Greece. Sometimes participants competed for honor and prestige and sometimes for money. There were even societies in which the underdog would lose his life. Whatever the outcome, there were always plenty of people standing around to watch and cheer.
Now, virtual sports, which had been hardly recognized only a few short months ago, is drawing millions of sports fans to its games. Virtual sports involves fixed odds events (scheduled) in which the outcome is decided by a random number generator (RNG). All fans have access to the same schedules and view identical outcomes.
After the event the results are published. Bets are settled based on the outcome as dictated by the RNG. Gaming companies are rushing to offer virtual sports events including virtual horse and greyhound racing, virtual football, virtual motor racing, virtual tennis and virtual cycling. Bettors can place wagers on match odds under or over, match odds on total number of points, bets on correct score and “straight forecasts” where selections are named to come first and second. There are also “reversed forecasts” in which two selections are named to finish. Single or multiple wagers can be placed.
Virtual sports are filling the vacuum that was left by the cancellation of most of the world’s spectator sporting events. Gambling sites are providing the entertainment and virtual sports are running around the clock. Virtual sports is immune to pandemics so sporting fans are able to respond by placing the bets that they would have otherwise have put on live events on the virtual sporting episodes.
Industry analysts note that the increase is happening despite the fact that there’s less of a chance for the bettor to beat the bookmaker in a virtual event than in a real live sporting event. Bettors don’t have access to any information on which they can base their bet on a virtual event other than the flat odds – no decisions based on player injuries, weather, or any other random event. Yet the industry is growing at a fast pace as sports fans look for alternatives to their traditional sports betting activities.
Charles Ritchie, a leading proponent of gambling reform, explains that, “While virtual sports betting has so far accounted for only a small proportion of overall betting activity, they have become increasingly popular amongst regular online bettors. But these are not real sports events – these are events constructed entirely to provide an opportunity to bet, indeed multiple and frequent bets. No one is interested in the result per se. There is no ‘form’ to be studied, no skill in picking a ‘winner’. They owe more to so-called ‘slots’ and casino games, based on high speed random number generators, which are associated with incredibly high addiction rates. And that’s where the worry lies. Will more people who either don’t bet or bet on traditional sports be drawn into this dangerous activity, essentially through boredom?”
During the present coronavirus pandemic, virtual sports have become a substitute for other types of sporting events. Everyone is asking the same question – once traditional sports relaunches, will virtual sports maintain the same popularity that they are now enjoying?
Ritchie points to a “new normal” where anyone who registers with an online gambling site will be subject to continued marketing from the company. “The worry for campaigners for gambling reform is that this was just a Trojan Horse for gambling companies, with people having to sign up for an online account in order to place their bet… who will now be subjected to the relentless marketing by this voracious industry…..Of course, it will have also introduced many people to the whole concept of betting on a virtual ‘sport’, which is the only ‘sport’ to bet on in these days of lockdown.”
In the absence of live sporting events, gambling businesses are trying to provide content for their fans. eSports is another option that’s filling the void. Major gambling companies and online casinos are, increasingly, offering eSports options. Analysts are seeing a significant upswing in eSports betting – a 943% increase to the Online Betting Guide’s betting tips page suggests that sports bettors are prepared to migrate from traditional sports betting to a different genre to satisfy their yen.
Real and Virtual
Some people have noted that the readiness of sports bettors to move to virtual sports and esports demonstrates how closely intertwined the lines are between the worlds of virtual and real sports. Growth Through Participation (GTP) refers to a psychological state that is observed when sports fans integrate various elements of video gaming into real. The integration can occur via actions, sensations or thoughts. Many mental health professionals believe that, as sports increasingly impacts language and social interaction, it makes it easy for the virtual world to blur the lines between our gaming life interactions and our real life interactions.
Yet there are many positive aspects to the new sports offerings. Through esports and virtual sports people can maintain social connections that keep them stimulated and in a positive frame of mind. In such times, that’s a big endorsement.