For many people, the thrill of sports betting comes from betting on matches and contests that are based in reality and which, on many occasions, can be viewed from home on the television, or streamed to their PC or mobile device.
The thrill of watching an event unfold and seeing how your selections either roar to success, or succumb meekly to failure is all part of the sports betting experience for millions of punters.
However, did you know that you can get a similar thrill, not to mention the chance to see the results of your betting selections far more quickly, by taking a trip into a virtual reality?
No, we don’t mean that you have to wear a rather strange-looking headset and immerse yourself in the digital recreation of a sporting contest, but instead the more sedate, but no less exciting world of Virtual Sports, specifically those on offer on the SkyBet website (where new players can sign up today to claim their £20 free Sky Bet sports bets).
What are Virtual Sports?
Virtual Sports are representations of real sports that rather than being dictated by what happens in real life, have their results and other factors decided by a complex computer programme. Part of the allure of virtual sports is that you can watch either the full event, or at least highlights of it, on screen as the computer programme plays out the “race” or “match” in progress.
The reason many people enjoy virtual sports is that they are decided in a fraction of the time of a real sporting event and are available to bet on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, which is not the case in any real life sport.
Bet on a real life football game for example, such as a Premier League match in soccer and you have to wait from the moment you place the bet before the game starts, at least 90 minutes, plus injury time, to find out the result. Usually if you place a pre match bet just before the game starts, you’ll have to wait around 2 hours before the results are confirmed and your bet settled.
In a virtual football game however, the game is played out and the highlights of the match shown within just a couple of minutes meaning that it is considerably quicker and allows punters to place many more bets per hour on the sport, and get the results of those bets, than they can in a real world game.
What Virtual Sports are available on SkyBet?
SkyBet currently offers five different types of Virtual Sports to bet on. Four are race-based sports (Horseracing, Greyhound Racing, Motorsport and Speedway) and the fifth is Virtual Football, which sees two teams contest a virtual football match to decide the winner.
The main difference between each race-based virtual sport is the number of competitors in an event. In Speedway that is always four riders, in Greyhounds it is six dogs, in motor racing it is 12 drivers and in horseracing there is a range of runners in each race from eight up to 16 depending on the race.
Of the racing events, horse racing is the virtual sport that offers the most variation. Races are contested over both flat racing and national hunt courses and the addition of form for each horse, plus a jockey and the choice of racing over three different courses (Bishop Street, Sandunes Park and Wellington Place) means that you can tune into a new race every three minutes.
The other racing events see less variation. There are the same number of competitors in each race and fewer competitors means that there is less variation in the odds available on each race. For every racing-based virtual sport, you can bet on which of the selections will win but on horseracing and motor racing, you can also place Forecast and Tricast bets too.
For virtual football matches however, things are slightly different. Virtual football sees the highlights of a match between two fictitious teams played out on screen. You can place a number of different bets on the outcome of the match including betting on the match result, the correct score, total number of goals in the game, whether there will be under or over 2.5 goals and a double chance bet.
Teams are weighted to produce differences in the odds with stronger teams generally a shorter odds option than weaker teams.
After you have placed your bets, the highlights of the game are then displayed, with goals, missed chances, free kicks and saves by the goalkeeper. After the highlights are shown, the results of the match and bets are displayed for the punter to view.
How to bet on SkyBet Virtual Sports
Betting on virtual sports on SkyBet is as easy as placing a bet on any real sport. Simply click on the virtual sport you want to play and then click on a race or match that you want to bet on. The market prices will be displayed for this event and all you need to do is click on the odds for the bet you wish to make to add it to your bet slip, enter in your stake and click the Place Bet button.
You can then watch your virtual sport event unfold on your screen to see if your bet wins. You can play all virtual sports via mobile too, although it may be advisable to check you have a WiFi connection, especially if you are not on an unlimited data plan with your mobile contract provider.
How are the winners and losers in Virtual Sports decided?
The winners and losers of a virtual sports event are decided by a computer program. It would be inaccurate to describe the program as being ‘random’, as this would mean every bet has roughly the same chance of winning, but there are random elements incorporated into the software to give a roughly accurate representation of real world sports betting.
What does that mean? Well for example, if in a football match one team is rated as an even money favourite and the other team is 5/1, the computer programme weights the game so that the favourite has more chance to win. Hence, when the game is played 100 times, the favourite team will likely win considerably more games than the lower ranked team.
However, there is enough variability in the market to ensure that higher odds selections can win too. This ensures that there is enough variation within the results to create a realistic betting experience.
Are Virtual Sports fair to the UK sports punter?
Of course, some punters will feel that the software in virtual sports could be doctored to ensure that the player always loses when they place a bet. However, the good news for punters is that just like computerised slots and casino games, virtual sports are rigorously tested to ensure they adhere to fair gaming rules.
There’s also the argument that if players lost far too often on bets, then customers would soon grow wise to this and not bother playing the virtual sports option in the first place, which means it is counter-productive for casinos.
Virtual Sports are fair in the same way casino games and slots are fair. The house edge is created by how the odds for markets are marked up, not by doctoring the software as this is illegal and would only result in punters not playing the game anyway.
Virtual Sports are a great option if you are not bothered by real world games and results, but like to bet frequently on games and enjoy casino games as well as sports betting. If you do, then virtual sports is a fantastic option to try out now on SkyBet.