Last week in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Globel Gaming Expo (G2E) took place. This is the annual gaming trade show that showcases to buyers across the world some of the newest gaming technology set to become available for purchase in casinos all around the world.
The expo is one of the biggest in the gaming industry and attracts buyers and parties from all over the world an in amongst all the new releases of slot games, skill-based games, card games and electronic table games, there was also a far greater emphasis being placed on Virtual Sports too.
So much so that it seems that Virtual Sports terminals may well be available to play in many more casinos across the world over the coming 12 months or so.
Virtual Sports in Real World Casinos
It is tempting to think that Virtual Sports is a modern phenomenon and certainly in its present guise of a computer program that generates a virtual sports event, works out betting on the event and then runs the virtual event to get a result, it most certainly is. However, if would be a mistake to think that the Virtual Sports story starts when the Internet became more widely available and the first Virtual Sports game was developed.
In actual fact, you can head back to the 60s and 70s to find evidence of Virtual Sports game in casinos and arcades, even though back in those days, the games were not called Virtual Sports.
I can remember from my youth a number of games based on races (horse racing was the most popular version, but I do recall a sports car version of the same game too). The machine was entirely mechanical and there were a set number of runners in the race. You could bet a coin (I can remember when it was as little as 2p on a race, but over the years it increased up to 10p or more) on one of the competitors in the race.
Each competitor had their own set of odds for the race ranging from shorter odds to longer odds bets. Once you entered your coin into the slot, your bet was placed and a light would shine next to your selection. After a set amount of time, the betting would cease and the race would take place. If your selection won, you were paid out at the odds stated.
This was an entirely mechanised version of a Virtual Sport that was available in casinos and arcades for many years prior to the Internet and, indeed, if you look hard enough, you can find games like this still in operation today, although they are becoming more obsolete as time goes by and technology advances.
Resurgence in modern-day casinos
It is fair to say though that since those games of yesteryear, Virtual Sports games or any sort have not been pre-eminent in real world casinos. It has been online that has seen the Virtual Sports revolution at the forefront of modern sports betting.
This has been the case in all parts of the globe, and it has led to some interesting situations. Virtual Sports betting has proven to be especially popular in Italy for some reason, and it is also growing massively in popularity in other parts of the world, such as the U.K.
However, it is in the United States where Virtual Sports has played a key role within the US gambling industry as a whole. This came about when a judge ruled that Virtual Sports was more like a slot game than sports betting and so his ruling meant that casino sites in the some states of the United States, while not allowed to offer sports betting, were allowed to offer Virtual Sports betting.
Many people within the US Gaming industry feel that this somewhat unusual state of affairs, where betting on real sports is outlawed in a state, but you can freely bet on virtual sports, is somewhat anomalous and is part of the reasons why many states are now reviewing their laws on gambling. Some states like Pennsylvania, have already moved to change their legislation to legalise sports betting, as well as Virtual Sports betting and other forms of gambling too.
The popularity of sports betting online therefore has made real world casinos well aware of just how appealing this particular form of betting is and, as is always the way within any industry, when something is popular, the big guns want a piece of the action.
What will we see in terms of Virtual Sports in modern day casinos?
How can modern casinos approach offering Virtual Sports to customers? This is a good question and one that does require a little thinking about.
Most online Virtual Sports services are offered by online sports betting sites, which would clearly be an option for online casinos. It is possible that casinos could offer consoles where players could log in to play Virtual Sports online. The casino could have a contract with the Virtual Sports provider directly (if they do not have one already through their online offerings) which would then allow them to personalise the Virtual Sports in the same way that online betting sites do.
However, I also think that there is a growing call for Virtual Sports consoles to cover more than one Virtual Sport. I can see consoles that reflect how Virtual Sports are offered online, where the player can select which of the Virtual Sports to play, being more commonplace. Rather than simply one console offering one Virtual Sport. The latter method would be restrictive and not offer anything better than can be found in an online casino.
The Atlantic City Weekly reported that Virtual Hockey, Virtual Basketball and V-Play Football are just three titles set to be released in real-world casinos over the coming year or so and it will be interesting to see how they are presented. Will they be bespoke items designed specifically for that casino and land-based casino gaming, or will they simply be ports over from the online versions of the game?
Whatever the case, Virtual Sports is coming to land-based casinos and it will be arriving sooner than you think.