Why "Virtual" Sports When You Have the Real Thing?

If you're not a gamer or you haven't visited an online casino or sportsbook, "virtual sports" may be another term that you've filed away with hot spot, plug 'n play and streaming.

These days everything seems to be going virtual. Do you want to learn the piano? You don't need one. Grab your iPad and pull up a keyboard. Do you belong to a membership club? You don't need to attend meetings or get your ID card, you simply go online and look for the latest information from your club's director.

Virtual reality games are everywhere now. You can drop a 20 and get a crazy looking headset to put over your phone and look at things from a new perspective.

To answer the question, though, virtual sports are games that play out courtesy of a computer program and have no human interaction during the events. No one is at a controller manipulating any of the players. The games are broadcast using random programming but are based on players, teams, and statistics that have been developed and are relatively consistent, just like the real world versions. Bettors are provided with the same type of information that they review before placing a wager on a traditional sporting event.

Virtual sports are one of the latest trends in sports betting, along with esports, and are a cross between a sport and a casino game. Virtual and "e" are quite different in nature though, so I wanted to give you just a quick glimpse at the difference between the two and a closer look at the virtual options and how you can get in on the action. No headset required.

Difference Between Virtual Sports and esports

Whereas virtual sports are entirely computer generated, esports are competitions between people playing online games.  esports has leagues and top players that are followed like traditional sporting teams. Virtual sports is based on real players and sporting action, but there is no human influence during the events themselves. Some of the matches may even have two competing players on the same team so they need to be followed independently of what's happening in the real world.

Their Inspiration

I'm incorrect if I've implied that virtual sports are new, although their popularity is relatively current. They came onto the scene back in 1961, although you probably wouldn't be aware unless you've been a hardcore computer enthusiast from the beginning./p>

An IBM 1620 computer was used in fantasy baseball and incorporated random number generation and player statistics to determine an outcome of a game that was never played on the field. The premise has been greatly expanded on, and today's bookmaker-hosted virtual sports events have more of a feel of the FIFA video game series with state of the art software mimicking a real match.

Why Do People Like Them?

Fans of virtual sports like being able to develop their personal betting strategy based on completely different statistics, and appreciate being able to stake a bet whenever they want. Live events are on a schedule, so players wait a day or even a week or more to see the outcome of their prediction. With virtual sports, they can bet, watch the game, and get paid (hopefully) on their schedule.

What Sports Have Gone Virtual?

Most of the top sports are now available in virtual sports format as well. You can opt for horse racing and greyhounds, or American football, baseball, basketball, tennis, and, of course, the world's football game, aka soccer.

Not all markets will be available, but you'll still have a good selection. For example, if you bet through Betfair, the top betting exchange-bookmaker combo site, you can get in on additional action every three minutes. Their soccer markets include match odds, over/under 2.5 goals, total goals, correct score, and double chance.

Where Can I Play?

The better question is where can you not play as virtual sports are now a mainstay in online sportsbooks around the world.

On bet365, virtual sports have a massive £1,000,000 top payout. You're not going to see a number that high in most other places, but you still can get in on non-stop betting action through virtual sports.

Asian provider Bodog88, UK's Coral, William Hill, and Betfair all have ample betting opportunities. Canada's Sports Interaction has a very small virtual area housed within the "games" section but is not nearly as impressive as most.

Offshore providers to the US and Canada like Intertops, Bovada, Bodog, and Bookmaker have opted to exclude virtual sports from their main betting menu. You may find esports, but virtual is omitted.

There are a few US licensed bookmakers and casinos that are now dipping their toe in the water of the virtual sports pool. Virtual sports are considered to be just like regular sports betting, so it is regulated. Pala, Resorts, and the Golden Nugget are guinea pigs for a US virtual sports experiment, though, so we could see much more to come.

If You're Still Intrigued by Virtual Sports, Here are a Few Other Things You May Find Interesting...

  • 1. Virtual Sports is more regulated than any sport in the regular betting menu - the reason is probably obvious. How do you know that the games are being played out fairly if you're not watching real people making their moves? That's why the software companies and providers are strictly monitored to ensure integrity. You can equate it to a random number generator on a slot machine. Random is the operative word and regulation keep things equal for all players.
  • 2. Virtual sports can give new players some experience on traditional betting - statistics from virtual sports do not mirror real-life. They are developed for the virtual world only, so a new player can start studying virtual games and players to come up with their predictions and strategies that they can then translate to conventional sports.
  • 3. Today's technology has made virtual as close to the real thing as it can get - National Anthems are sung, spectator interaction is integrated, and the graphics and audio are top-notch. You'll feel like you're there watching a live game.