Are Virtual Sports Fair or Fixed?

Written By Ian John on September 5, 2018

One of my guilty pleasures, when I have some spare time, is to head on over to the discussion boards and message boards that populate many sites on the Internet. In amongst the useful information and genuine stories from people who want to relate what has happened to them, there are my favourite type of posts.

These are the posts where the user has experienced a bad run of luck on a particular type of game and now wants the world to know that the game is a total fix, that the company running them cannot be trusted and that they are a con.

Over years, we have seen these posts from people about poker, real life sports betting, casino gaming, slots and now we are finding the occasional post from a disgruntled Virtual Sports punter who wants the world to know why these games are fixed against the player.

The complaints usually go along the lines of:

“I was playing (Insert Virtual Sport of choice) at (insert Sports betting site of choice) and I played for 3 hours and wagered away far more money than I should have done. I only won a couple of times and as I tend to win more playing the (slots/table games/sports betting/poker – take your pick) I can only conclude that Virtual Sports is a complete fix and here soley to rip people off.”

This is then usually followed by a number of disgruntled Virtual Sports punters who will then give you their own litany of woe about how the game was fixed and how they never won and always lost, regardless of whether they bet on the favourites or not.

We have touched upon this issue in the past, but as Virtual Sports grow in popularity, it is important that the truth of the matter is made clear to everyone who has an interest in Virtual Sports, or who may want to bet on them.

Here’s a number of questions you can ask yourself to ensure that you are enjoying safe and fair Virtual Sports betting.

  1. Am I playing on a reputable site?

Before we even consider the Virtual Sports games themselves, you need to ask yourself whether you are playing on a trusted, reputable site. I would hope that every punter is doing precisely that. Of course, top sports betting sites by reputable companies are easy to check.

Betway, for example, shows clearly at the foot of their landing page on the website that they are not only licensed by the Gambling Commission in the UK, but they are also members of ESSA (which is dedicated to ensuring sports betting integrity within the industry), eCOGRA (which rigorously checks the software used by companies on sites is safe and fair for punters) and the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS) which will listen and investigate any complaints against the company regarding unfair practices.

If your site is not licensed to operate in the country you reside in, then you may have a problem in the sites you are selecting to play at. Furthermore, if their software isn’t verified by an authority such as eCOGRA and they are not members of ESSA or IBAS, then are you sure they are going to adhere to the strict rules in place these companies have to protect you?

Fortunately, the chances of a ‘fraud’ site cropping up to con players out of their cash is much smaller nowadays than it used to be, so let’s assume that you are playing at a reputable site, so what else could the problem be?

  1. Am I betting responsibly?

Many complaints against Virtual Sports stem from the fact that the punter in question has lost all or a significant amount of money betting on these events.

In real life sports, the result of an event can take from a few seconds, to minutes, to hours or even days to resolve. Depending on the sport in question of course. Betting on these events can therefore take more time and a £10 bet on the outcome of a five day test cricket match for example, can take the best part of a week to decide.

On Virtual Sports, events tend to take around three minutes to be decided to completion and that includes a significant proportion of time prior to the event starting to place bets. As such, if you bet on Virtual Sports, you can bet much more frequently.

Now say you have £50 in your account and you bet £25 on the outcome of a test match, after five days, you will know the result of your bet and assuming you don’t’ want to make another bet until the test has finished, you’ll still have £25 in your account.

On Virtual Sports, if you have £50 in your account and bet £25 on the result of say, a Speedway race, you will wait a maximum of three minutes until the next race. Bet again and lose again and you will have gone through your £50 deposit in just six minutes.

Even if you decide to make smaller bets, say of £5 per race, a £50 deposit would only last you approximately 30 minutes (unless of course you hit one or more winners).

Part of betting responsibly is ensuring not just you bet what you can afford to lose, but that you use your staking money wisely and over a time period to suit your budget. If you have a budget of £50 a month and like placing two £25 bets or five £10 bets over that period, you will find that on Virtual Sports, betting like that will see you burn through your cash in just minutes, rather than weeks.

  1. Do I understand the nature of Virtual Sports?

It is tempting to think that because Virtual Sports are based on real life sports, that betting on them will essentially be the same as a real life sports bet. Unfortunately, this is most definitely not the case.

In real life sports, punters can use any number of different sets of data to help inform their bet. In horse racing for example, you can check the horses form, its record over the current ground, its record on the course, the form its stable is in, the form of the jockey, the record of the trainer and even the breeding of the horse to see if its genetics tend to suit one type of race more than another.

In Virtual Sports, none of this extraneous information is available, the race does see the selections handicapped in some way to produce a variety of betting, so the favourite is more likely to win and outsiders less likely, but at the heart of every Virtual Sports event is a random number generator.

Once you enter a random number generator into the equation, then Virtual Sports ceases to be a replica of sports betting and instead operates at its intrinsic level, much more like a slot machine. Results are more random and as such, it is much more difficult to predict the winner of an event.

This isn’t an error in programming. It has to be this way for casinos to offer Virtual Sports betting as a way to play or bet. If the favourite of a Virtual Sports event won most of the time, then casinos would start to lose a huge amount of money to punters simply backing the favourites each time.

Once you get your head around Virtual Sports being more like a slot game, than betting on a real life sport, even though it appears to be the same, then you will realise that the nature of the game is that you are not likely to win anywhere near as often as you may do when betting on real life sports, especially if you tend to back the shorter priced selections or favourites.

As a result, if you play on a reputable site such as Betway, you are still prone to suffer the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ that are evident in any game that has a random element. As such, if you reduce your stakes accordingly and bet on Virtual Sports as you would a slot, then you will find that they are much more fun to play and more importantly are a safe and fair way of gaming.

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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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