Just How Big Is The Virtual Sports Betting Industry Nowadays?

Written By Ian John on January 24, 2018

Ever since I have been covering Virtual Sports Betting, I have read many different articles and reports all of which have stated that Virtual Sports is one of the fastest-growing features in the sports betting industry and that there are an ever-increasing number of customers trying out these particular games on sports betting sites.

It would therefore seem that Virtual Sports are fast becoming one of the most important aspects of a sports betting site, but what is the evidence for this? Are there any facts and figures that can back this assertion up? We decided to take a closer look at the evidence and see whether these assertions are based on fact, or mere supposition.

What do the facts say?

Perhaps the most interesting stat for a beginner comes from the Statista portal which looked at the Share of Online Gambling Participants in the United Kingdom as of March 2017 by the type of gambling activity that they enjoyed. The findings of this survey clearly indicate how important Virtual Sports betting is to online gambling sites:

  • Spread Betting – 88%
  • Sports Betting – 69%
  • Casino Gaming – 61%
  • Betting on events other than sport – 59%
  • Football Pools – 57%
  • Virtual Dog or Horse Races – 51%
  • Horse Racing – 48%
  • Greyhound Racing – 43%
  • Non-National Lottery Draws – 36%
  • National Lottery Draws – 28%
  • Bingo – 22%

As you can clearly see, betting on Virtual Dog or Horse Racing betting is now more popular online than playing bingo, playing any lottery game and even betting on real life horseracing and greyhound racing. Indeed, more than one person in every two that visits a sports betting site regularly will likely bet on Virtual dogs or horse racing.

You can then safely assume that when you include all the other Virtual Sports available, such as cycling, football, tennis, motor sports, speedway and trotting, that the actual percentage is likely to be a little higher than that number.

However, another statistic gives you an idea of the potential for growth within the Virtual Sports industry, despite already enjoying popularity with online punters. That stat is a look at how many people (as a percentage) indulge in gambling activities in the UK (as of March 2017) and which activities they indulge in.

Now the figures for this statistical analysis are going to be much smaller as this includes a population of people that do not gamble (which is a significant percentage of the population). There were also many more options for this survey which revealed that when it comes to the particular type of activity most gamblers enjoy, Virtual Sports is still a relatively small player.

  • National Lottery Draws – 30%
  • Scratchcards – 13%
  • Different Lottery Draws – 12%
  • Sports Betting – 7%
  • Private Betting – 6%
  • Horse Racing/ Fruit or Slot Machines – 5% each
  • Bingo – 4%
  • Casino Games – 3%
  • Football Pools, Virtual Games Machines in Bookmakers, Online Slots/Instant Win Games – 2% each
  • Betting on other Events, Greyhound Racing, Any other gambling activity, Poker, Virtual Dog or Horse Racing – 1% each

So, if we look at both these figures what does it tell us? Well the first survey tells us that when you look at people that bet regularly, Virtual Sports betting has grown massively over the years and now enjoys great support from many punters. However, in terms of the actual population, the number of people that enjoy Virtual Sports betting on a regular basis (certainly on horse racing or greyhounds) is still relatively small.

It is this last statistic in particular that has many in the Virtual Sports Betting industry excited. Virtual Sports when played prove popular but as yet, still only a relatively small number of people have played these games. When you consider that the two other forms of betting most closely related to Virtual Sports betting (Sports Betting and Fruit or Slot Machines) both have much larger numbers of people playing them (7% of the population do sports betting, 5% play fruit or slot machines), then the potential for growth in the Virtual Sports Betting industry remains huge.

Virtual Sports Abroadhow to bet on virtual sports

One of the most intriguing ways in which Virtual Sports Betting is developing is in how the service is being used abroad. In Europe, Italy is one of the countries alongside the UK where Virtual Sports are proving to be a huge hit with customers, especially in the Southern city of Naples where betting on these games is incredibly popular.

However, it is in America where the Virtual Sports Betting industry is being viewed most eagerly. In many states, sports betting is illegal in the U.S., but in a landmark move, New Jersey has become the first state that outlaws sports betting, but which will allow customers to bet on Virtual Sports.

This landmark move occurred just a few weeks ago and the reasoning behind it was that while sports betting on real life sporting events is still banned in the state, Virtual Sports Betting is somewhat different. This is because Virtual Sports are not real events, but are computer generated and therefore share more characteristics with slot games (which are legal to play in New Jersey). As a result, legislators felt that Virtual Sports Betting should be allowed in the state.

The reason why this is such a big deal in the United States is that there is an increasing move to allow sports betting be permitted across all of the 50 states and the fact New Jersey has allowed Virtual Sports to be bet on in the state, is seen as the first step towards not just Virtual Sports but sports betting being allowed nationally. Many other states are now said to be reviewing their legislation in terms of sports betting and Virtual Sports and this could lead to a massive new market for both forms of gambling.

With that however, will come a need for Virtual Sports that are more suited to the American market and as such, that should drive companies to develop an increasing range of Virtual Sports games for American players, such as Virtual Basketball, Virtual American Football, Virtual Baseball or similar.

The knock-on effect of this change will be felt globally with more Virtual Sports likely to be made available to players in other countries too, which will again give the industry added appeal.

What is clear is that Virtual Sports is a massive part of the appeal for online betting sites and a large number of punters play these games regularly, furthermore there is still massive scope for growth in the industry which is exactly why so many companies are now polishing up their Virtual Sports betting services to appeal to a growing user base.

So to answer the question posed in the title, Virtual Sports are a big part of any online sports betting platform and the exciting thing is, that they have the potential to become a much greater part of it in future.

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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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