The modern phenomenon of online sports betting has brought round-the-clock access to gambling products to sports and betting enthusiasts. Players can place wagers on events long before they take place as well as live in real-time.
Technologies like cryptocurrency and virtual reality continue to push the experience forward, and the rise of esports betting has shown that technological advances can open up entirely new betting markets. One such market is virtual sports betting, a form of gambling for in sport itself almost becomes an abstract concept.
What Is Virtual Sports Betting?
Virtual sports betting is the practice of wagering on the outcome of entirely fictional sports matches. These matches are powered by statistical algorithms and are represented in high-end computer graphics designed to mimic sports broadcasts.
Popularized by games like FIFA and Football Manager, betting on virtual sports is essentially betting on a predetermined outcome based on sets of data processed by the algorithm. While globally, the most popular virtual sport is soccer, one is also able to bet on virtual football, tennis, basketball, and horse racing.
Often attempts are made to simulate actual teams, but licensing often leads to transparent ‘knock-off’ club branding. For instance, at Unibet, one will find Arsenal and Manchester City renamed as the London Guns and Manchester Blue.
However, knowledge of real-life players and clubs makes no difference, so one without sports knowledge can effectively bet if one understands betting value principles. Besides the digital mechanics of the computer image, virtual sports betting works almost precisely like traditional online sports betting.
Team rankings and statistics are provided by the bookmaker, and the standard betting markets are available, like ‘Correct Score,’ ‘Over/Under’, and ‘Asian Handicap,’ along with their associated odds.
Unlike real sports, the results of virtual matches are instantaneous, and new virtual matches are played every few minutes. A perk to some and a danger to others, the nature of virtual sports allows twenty-four-seven gambling.
Is Virtual Sports Betting Fair?
Perhaps the first question a skeptical punter may put forward, at first glance, the fairness of virtual sports betting is far less certain than in flesh and blood sports competitions. While match-fixing, referee bias, and off-field strategy do threaten to corrupt the natural playing environment, real-life spontaneity is still far more palatable than a preordained outcome determined by a bookmaker.
However, one can be assured that the bookmaker algorithms have been thoroughly assessed by unbiased third parties. As a condition of licensing, bookmakers are tested for integrity and fairness, which includes having their complex software and odds determining methods verified.
This is one of the main reasons why one should always deal with a licensed sportsbook and avoid the rest. But there is something to be said about predetermined outcomes. Even if these outcomes are brought about by a verified Random Number Generator (RGN), which inputs data into the match algorithm, there is some element of human randomness that is sacrificed.
While bookmakers may be verified as fair, within the range of acceptable fairness, there may be a structural ‘House edge’ that simply can’t exist in real-life sports. Hence, virtual sports betting is fair only to this extent.
Where Can You Bet On Virtual Sports?
Like Unibet mentioned above, one is able to bet on virtual sports with most major bookmakers. It is a testament to the rise and popularity of the phenomenon that if one already has a bookmaker account, one is likely already able to engage in this market. Nonetheless, some significant players in this area are William Hill, Bet365, and Ladbrokes.
Replay Sports Betting
Similar to virtual sports and yet distinct, replay sports betting is a recent offshoot of the concept of virtual sports. Replay sports displays virtual matches, but rather than randomly generating outcomes, these matches are based on historical data.
Meaning, the virtual game will play out exactly like a match in the past; the caveat being the bookmaker does not inform the player about which teams are playing until the end. Replay sports betting is less widely available and is currently pioneered by NEO.bet.
And, of course, all the same, skepticism still applies. Regardless, replay sports betting in addition to virtual sports, is yet a further step toward expanding the reach and capability of igaming and online betting for an ever-widening consumer base.
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