When we think of betting, we usually think of wagering on real-life sports. Whether it’s major sports such as horse racing, football, or tennis, or smaller sports such as cycling or snooker, there are always plenty of markets available for those looking to wager.
Away from regular sports, some betting sites also offer bets on non-sports related topics such as celebrities, politics, and TV shows.
But there are other alternatives to betting on real-world sports, and even events such as virtual sports betting.
What is virtual sports betting?
The concept of virtual sports betting has been around for many years, but not every punter may be aware of it.
For example, virtual horse racing events were popular at private functions in the 1980s and 1990s. A video of a random historic horse race would be shown but without the details of the runners and jockeys.
Instead, participants would just choose a number from a hat and place a fixed price in a betting pool. The player with the winning number would then take the pot.
There were also arcade games featuring virtual horse races. In the simplest games, you could place a stake and choose a horse. If it won, you would bag a nice profit, if it lost, you said goodbye to your stake.
However, some games were a little more complex. In the USA, the game known as Derby Owners Club was very popular at truck stops in the early 2000s.
It was a huge machine with seats for half a dozen players. You could even create, train, and breed a virtual horse and save the info on a digital card to use again at any machine.
Virtual sports betting today
Today, many betting companies include virtual horse racing betting on their websites, and there are many guides out there to help you find the best places to wager on virtual horse racing.
But these virtual sports are not limited to horse racing. You might also come across virtual cycling, greyhounds, speedway, and motor racing.
What markets are available?
In virtual races, the number of markets may be limited compared with real sports. For example, you may only be able to bet on the winner or each-way finish in a virtual horse race.
Sometimes, the forecast bet may also be available – this is when you bet on who will finish first and second in the correct order. As a rule, the more competitors in the race, the more betting options there will be.
As well as virtual races, you may also see virtual games between two opponents such as tennis or football. In these games, you may find even more betting options available – such as correct score, total goals, and total points etc.
How are the odds calculated?
The odds and race results are calculated using software such as random number generators (RNGs), just like the ones used on video slot machines and online casino games.
The competitors are weighted by the software to calculate odds, and then the race is decided by the RNG. What this means is that the favourites will have the best chance of winning, just like in a real race, while upsets are still possible.
To ensure the RNGs are fair, they are tested and certified according to the Gambling Commission standards.
How does it differ from betting on real sports?
The big difference compared to a real sport is that you cannot apply many strategies to your selections. You cannot study form or past data to make an informed decision, you just have to pick a competitor at random and hope for the best.
The one strategy that you can apply is choosing a budget that you can easily afford to gamble and sticking to it. Even in virtual gambling, bankroll management is important.
In that respect, virtual races are more like playing a slot machine or a virtual casino game than a direct alternative to betting on real sports.
They may appeal most to those who enjoy casual sports betting without a strategic approach, as well as those who enjoy the random nature of casinos. Despite these differences, virtual betting can offer an entertaining experience and you can still end up a winner!