Legal Sports Report

Virtual Sports Betting

Virtual sports betting is the newest innovation in the larger sports betting industry. Conducting sports events virtually — via computer software — is opening up a whole new avenue for sportsbooks and bettors around the world.

Here are some frequently asked questions about virtual sports and virtual sports betting:

What are virtual sports?

Virtual sports are essentially video games where computer software plays out sporting events, races or contests. Advanced algorithms determine the outcome; they account for the skill of the participants as well as the luck elements inherent in real-world sporting events.

The computer-generated graphics of the virtual sports are usually advanced and look much like you would see on current-generating gaming consoles, but short of watching a television broadcast.

Virtual sports have gained traction as a way for sportsbooks to offer action without needing a real-world event on which to take wagers, increasing the velocity of bets they can take.

What virtual sports are there?

Virtual sports exist for nearly many of the most popular sports worldwide, but here are some of the most common virtual sports:

  • Football (soccer)
  • Horse racing
  • Dog racing
  • Motor sports
  • Tennis
  • Basketball

Here is a look at an example of one suite of virtual sports products:

Betradar put on a virtual version of the Euro 2016 soccer tournament in 2016.

Is betting on virtual sports legal?

Whenever a licensed bookmaker offers virtual sports betting, it can be assumed to be legal. Those sportsbooks or the virtual sports provider would have gotten regulatory approval to offer the games in the jurisdictions in which the product is offered.

Many unlicensed, offshore bookmakers do not go through such a regulatory vetting process, so be wary of placing bets on virtual sports at those books.

Virtual sports betting sites 2017

Virtual sports are offered by a variety of online and land-based sportsbooks in regulated markets like the United Kingdom and Italy, and is popular as a form of UK sports betting.

Some of the bookmakers that offer virtual sports betting include:

Is virtual sports betting available in the US?

Virtual sports betting is coming to some US casinos in 2017. And it’s likely to appear in many more casinos around the country in coming years.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act prohibits most wagering on real-world sporting events around the US, except for in Nevada. But because virtual sports don’t have any impact on real-world sports, presumably any state that regulates gambling could allow virtual sports betting.

The product would allow for casinos to offer “virtual sportsbooks” that show virtual contests and take bets on them.

For the short term, both Nevada and New Jersey are expected to have virtual sports betting soon. The Golden Nugget and Resorts AC online gambling sites have deals in place with Inspired Gaming. The same is the case at William Hill US, which also has a deal with Inspired, for its Nevada books and mobile sports betting client.

How do you bet on virtual sports

Betting on virtual sports is much like betting on a real-world sporting event. The only differences are the bookmakers determine when the virtual events occur — usually at fast-paced and regular intervals — and who is competing.

But beyond that, the mechanics are just like normal sports betting. The most common bet would be to bet on the winner of an event, like a football match or a horse race, based on odds or a money line.

A variety of proposition bets are often available for each virtual sports event. For example, exactas or trifectas in horse racing, or the number of goals that will be scored in a soccer match.