What is Next for the Virtual Sports Betting Market in the UK?

Written By Ian John on June 27, 2018

Over the last couple of months, we have reviewed the different Virtual Sports betting options at two popular betting sites in the UK, 10Bet and Betway. What we have learned from this is that while Virtual Sports on different betting sites share many similarities, there are considerable differences between the quality of product on offer between sites, even when they use the same initial software as the basis for their Virtual Sports service.

Those differences manifest themselves in a couple of ways. Firstly, there are differences in the types of Virtual Sports on offer (some sites offer considerably more than others) and secondly there are also differences in the types of bets available on each Virtual Sport from site to site. Lastly, there are also marked differences in the quality of presentation and reliability of Virtual Sports from site to site.

It is therefore clear that while many sports betting sites offer Virtual Sports, their offerings do vary in terms of the number of sports offered and the quality of the Virtual Sports on offer. So it still does pay for punters to shop around to find the best Virtual Sports service that suits their particular favoured form of betting.

What is also fair to note at this juncture is that Virtual Sports betting is still very much an emerging market and the technology that supports it, is also undergoing rapid development. With even the oldest Virtual Sports offering around 10 years old, this means that Virtual Sports is still very much in its formative years as a betting service, but the good news from that is that in the future, the service should improve markedly as new software and technology is developed to enhance this particular form of betting.

So, the question we are going to ask now is, given that we know the current state of the Virtual Sports Betting Market in the UK, how is the industry likely to develop in the future?

Pointers from Abroad

To perhaps best predict how things will go in the UK, we need to consider how the global Virtual Sports betting industry is going and at the moment, it is a topic that is keenly being discussed, not just in the UK and Europe, but particularly in North America.

In the vast majority of states in the US, sports betting is illegal, but recently, casinos have moved to offer Virtual Sports games to their customers, citing that this particular form of gaming is more akin to playing slot games, than it is to actual betting on real life sporting events.

As a result, a number of states have allowed casinos to offer Virtual Sports betting to customers and many industry experts are of the opinion that this will not only open up the US to an increasing involvement in Virtual Sports, but that it is the first step towards legalising sports betting across the majority of the country.

Furthermore, Virtual Sports popularity continues to grow not just in the US, but also in Italy, where Agipronews reported that bookmakers in Italy have reported revenues of €42 million from the first two months in 2018 from betting on Virtual Sports alone, an increase of 6.6% from the same period in 2017.

Details for the UK are difficult to ascertain clearly as the revenue generated by Virtual Sports is pooled together with revenues from other newer markets, such as Fantasy Sports betting and Esports betting. However, it is notable that after football betting and horse racing betting, these newer forms of entertainment generate the third most amount of revenue for UK bookmakers., This is ten times as much as is generated from betting on golf and three times as much as bookies generate from tennis betting.

What is clear is that these newer emerging forms of betting are hugely popular and that means you can bet UK bookmakers will be looking to keep expanding and improving their offerings to customers in these areas.

How will Virtual Sports betting develop in the UK?

What is going to be hugely interesting to those with an interest in Virtual Sports betting will be how the market develops over the years in the UK and also in those countries, such as the US and Italy, where Virtual Sports is equally popular.

There are a number of ways that the market could well develop, namely:

  • Increased Betting Markets available on Current Virtual Sports offerings

We have already seen that some bookmakers offer more betting markets on their Virtual Sports than other bookmakers do with the same virtual sports. That said, the number of markets available on Virtual Sports are still considerably smaller than real life sports. As such, I’d expect bookmakers to start offering more betting options on Virtual Sports. However in order to do that, they first may need to wait for another key development in the Virtual Sports industry.

  • Refinement and Improvement of current Virtual Sports offerings

It’s fair to say that most Virtual Sports services are now starting to look a little tired around the edges and the time has come for the development companies to work on either improving their current games, or perhaps replacing them with a more detailed and improved offering. For example, you could have a Virtual Football game which instead of playing a selection of random games, instead plays through the games in a competition. This would allow players not just to bet on Virtual Sports, but also the outcome of the competition and open up a whole new opportunity of betting.

Other refinements could include having varied length races in Virtual Sports that are to do with races. In Horse Racing, you could also have fallers in races over fences, which could possibly see players earn their bet back as a free bet if their horse falls or is brought down in a race.

Additionally, as software and technology has developed over the last ten years, it may also be possible to improve the graphics and presentation of each Virtual Sport as well as giving the commentary a much-needed overhaul.

  • Introduction of New Virtual Sports

Alongside the current line up of Virtual Sports, I think it is certain that at some point in the future a number of other Virtual Sports will be added to the range available. In the United States, companies are already working on Virtual Sports betting games on the top US sports (such as Basketball, Baseball and American Football) and if and when these are developed and released, I would not expect it to be too long before they are available in the UK and around the world too.

There’s also the opportunity to develop Virtual Sports that may be based on sports that are not the most popular for punters, such as Swimming or Athletics, which would both easily lend themselves to the Virtual Sports format.

In addition, I’d expect to see Virtual representations of the most popular games, such as Rugby, Golf and even Cricket (particularly the short overs format of the game) hit casinos at some point in the future.

The Virtual Sports industry is growing at a pace but it has now reached the point where it needs to take the next step in its development, or risk starting to look dated. It is going to be interesting to see how the industry pushes forward over the next couple of years or so and as always, when there’s news, we’ll be the first to bring it to you.

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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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