Is Virtual Sports Betting Fixed?

Posted on February 14, 2018 - Last Updated on February 13, 2018

It’s a short and simple question but one of the most commonly raised issues I have ever come across regarding Virtual Sports betting. Here’s just a sample of some of the comments that I have viewed when looking through various websites.

“This is seriously rigged and not to be trusted…”

“If the bookmaker sees there is lots of money going on one horse, they can decide what horse is going to win the race in these computer races”

In almost any forum, you will find similar comments from disgruntled customers from all types of sites that claim that the experiences that they have, cannot be down to random elements or bad luck and are proof that Virtual Sports results are rigged in favour of the bookmaker.

And here’s the news for you, they are, but not in the way that you think.

The importance of the house edge

If you are a casino gamer then it is likely you will be familiar with the house edge in a casino game, whereas if you are sports betting enthusiast and don’t bother with slots or card games much, then it may not be as familiar to you.

Simply put, the house edge is how much a casino has a game playing in its favour. It is usually expressed as a percentage, where the higher the percentage, the more a casino game is likely to turn a profit for the bookmaker each time, and the lower the percentage, the more chance a player has of turning a profit when they play.

However, and this is crucial, for a casino to operate profitably then most if not all of its offerings must offer them long term profit over the punter. No online casino ever existed for a long time if it paid out more than it took in from punters.

Let’s use a simple example to show how a game is made to give the casino a slight edge each time. In roulette, there are a number of bets that pay out even money and which appear to be 50/50 bets. These are the Odd or Even bet, the 1-18, 19-36 bet or the Black or Red bet.

These look like 50/50 bets and they pay out even money, but on a European Roulette wheel, there is one green zero slot. This then means that even these bets that look a 50/50 chance for the player, are actually slightly in the houses favour. On an American Roulette wheel, there is both a single zero and a double zero slot on the reel which gives the house an even greater edge on these bets.

Now on one spin of the roulette wheel, the house edge may not appear to be much but on hundreds, thousands or millions of spins, that house edge becomes significant and means that even though the house may pay out almost 50% of the time on these bets, they still make a profit on them overall.

The house edge is built in to every casino game and with Virtual Sports betting being more akin to a casino game than actual sports betting, then it stands to reason that bookies would need to have a house edge built into these games too.

The house edge in Virtual Sports

It is commonly understood that in Virtual Sports betting, the outcome of an event is generated at random by a random number generator, in a similar way to the outcome of a spin of a modern online slot is decided by the machinations of just such a program.

Now of course, in an entirely random event of say four runners, then each runner would have a 25% chance of winning that event. In Virtual Sports though, each of the competitors will have more or less chance to win than the others due to the handicapping system which is in place to ensure that the sport offers a realistic simulation of sports betting.

So, by combining the technology of slots (including the built in house edge that comes with the random number generator with these games) and prefacing it with a Virtual Sports livery and game, Casinos get the happy mix of being able to offer what appears to be a realistic sports betting simulator, but which works in much the same way as a slot does, complete with the inherent house edge.

Does that mean that Virtual Sports are rigged?

That depends on what you mean by rigged. If you mean that the casino stands a better chance than the player does of being the one making a profit most often, then yes the games are rigged but by that definition, every game that you can play and every bet that you can make is rigged in some way.

If you mean rigged as in the casino is actively making players lose by reviewing the bets made on a Virtual Sports event and then selecting a low-cost winner for them, or that the software is designed to recognise these betting patterns and then that is not correct. If it were, then gaming legislators would have recognised these within the software when it was reviewed and the games would not be made available for the public to play without being modified.

It is worth pointing out here that all the sites that offer Virtual Sports hold licenses to offer betting activities within their chosen locations. In the UK, the legislators that govern casino licenses is pretty stringent about what can and cannot be offered to UK customers and indeed any game where the player is always going to lose, would not be allowed.

However, a casino operating a house edge on its products is not illegal, as without it the casino would be unlikely to survive financially for long as they would pay out more than they took in.

The nature of random events

So what can cause these irate people so much angst? Part of this may be a lack of understanding of how random events occur. If you roll a dice six times, you would be unlikely to get the same number appear six times in a row. It can happen, but it is unlikely. Similarly, you would be unlikely to roll the sequence 1-2-3-4-5-6 in those rolls. Again though, this can happen.

The nature of random events is that they are entirely random and do not follow a pattern. Yes, a favourite may not have won a race for 15 attempts or more, but that doesn’t mean that it should win at the next attempt. Nor does it mean it will definitely win in the next 10, 20 or 200 events.

The nature of random events is precisely that they are random and there is no control over them. Understand this, and you can better deal with poorer runs when it seems a game has turned against you. Similarly, you can understand more when your luck is in and you seem to be able tp pick a winner time and time again.

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Ian John

Ian John is an expert across many realms of online gambling, both in US and international markets. Based in the UK, Ian covers sports betting, poker, and the regulated online casino and esports betting markets for a wide number of industry-focused publications.

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