Virtual Sports Betting Sites & Offers
A generation ago the idea of betting on a virtual horse race would be ridiculous but only a few decades on not only can you bet on virtual horse racing but virtual sports of all varieties.
The market for virtual sports is growing exponentially with most of the best betting sites and bookmakers now providing virtual markets. Unlike real world sports there is very little waiting around for an event to start, meaning you can bet on virtual sports any time of the day.
Virtual sports are in effect games, this means they have fixed odds and payout rates. This can be a good thing for the customer as the predictability of virtual sports means many betting sites can offer lower margins compared with real world sports (just like with casino games). You can honestly bet on most sports in the virtual world, football, tennis, cycling, motor sport, all types of racing and even computer games (e-sports).
Of course to get the best value you need to know where to bet on virtuals. This page tells you the best offers along with the best bookmakers to bet with and how to bet.
Virtual Sports Betting Offers
Sport Nation are relatively new in the world of online betting and it tends to be the newer operators who take virtuals a little more seriously.
The site almost always have a virtual sports offer, such as stake back free bets as shown in the image here (note this may not be available and is for illustration purposes only). At other times they've had matched free bets, cash back on loses and more. The selection of virtual sports markets is also impressive, the site runs on the SB Tech platform who are renowned for having a slick virtuals section.
With Sport Nation you can also earn loyalty points for all bets, virtual markets included.
The first time you place a £10+ bet on NetBet Virtual Sports you will qualify for a £5 free bet, but not just once you can claim this once every day.
No opt-in is required and your 1st bet placed each day between Monday-Sunday each will count, no minimum odds or game restrictions. You can earn up to a maximum of seven £5 free bets in one week.
Only single bets will apply and system bets will not be considered as a qualifying bet.
Ladbrokes have one of the most expansive virtual sports packages around, they are also one of only a small handful of sites to give you added free bet incentives to play.
Generally Ladbrokes provide some sort of matched free bet the first time you use the product, but it is the ongoing value that is the best factor. Existing customers can regularly get offers that link virtual and real sports. These promotions give you virtual free bets for betting on real world events and vice versa. For example you may have something like 'bet £20 on the Premier League get a £5 virtual football free bet' or 'bet £10 on virtual motor racing get a £5 F1 bet'.
Any regular virtuals bettor should check in with Ladbrokes regularly.
Coral were one of the first online bookmakers to offer virtual sports markets and have become one of the best places to bet and play with their wide selections of sports and offers.
They can pretty much always be relied on for running a first time use free bet offer, something like 'bet £20 on virtuals get £20 free', the amounts also tend to be more generous than other sites.
As with Ladbrokes linked real event offers are also a common feature for regular punters.
Best Virtual Sports Betting Sites
CoralCoral were an early adopter of virtual sports and so have one of the best and complete packages. With linked free bet offers and other features there are many reasons to bet here.
Sport NationOne of the only reliable betting sites for regular virtual offers. Sport Nation also give points for all bets meaning you are always earning rewards when playing virtual sports with them.
Bet365One of Bet365 strongest suits is their virtuals products. For years they have led the line with new sports and features. Worth checking out for new and seasoned players.
LadbrokesLadbrokes have one of the biggest selections of virtual games you will find. Events also start at a very high frequency for those that don’t like waiting more than one minute.
VbetAnother very modern betting site with a focus on more than traditional sports. Regularly have an offer for virtual sports and are one of the best for football in particular.
BetfairBetfair have entered into virtuals a little later than others but they have caught up very quickly with some astonishingly good games, graphics and features.
Virtual Sports Explained
This is simply a digitally rendered version of a traditional sport. Modern technology allows virtual sports to look almost like the real deal. Benefits include being permanently available at any time of the day and no nasty surprises such as non-runners or void bets.
Most bookies provide virtual horse racing and some have quite expansive packages that include virtual football, tennis, cycling and more. You will often see cross product promotions to get you to try them out, e.g. bet £10 on a real world sport get a £5 free bet on virtual sports.
The virtual events are driven by software and this means the payout rate of the game is fixed. Unlike real-world events there is no unpredictability in virtuals.
If, for example, you back a virtual horse at 20/1 then in a virtual game it will win every 21 or 22 times, on average, (21 times instead of 20 as this builds in the bookmakers margin). In a real race a 20/1 horse will not necessarily win at that rate and this unpredictability means sites build in larger margins to compensate. On balance therefore virtual games can actually pay out at better rates than the comparable real version.
How To Bet On Virtual Sports
Betting on virtual sports is easy and perhaps easier than placing a bet on a real world event. Races and events go live all day long and you can place many of the same bets on virtual sports that you can place on real sports. Bet on handicaps, accumulators, multiples, half-time markets, correct scores, winning distance, you name it you can wager on it.
Odds in virtual sports are generally reflective and fair, all events are digitally generated and so bookies can set the odds to really reflect the chances of winning. Bookies will also tend to have lower margins (i.e. higher payout rates) in general on these sports because there are no surprises and they can always guarantee a profit, then again this makes it harder to beat the bookie.
The main thing to realise with any virtual sports is that it is ultimate a game with fixed limits, just like a casino game. In fact many operators use virtuals as a means to get traditional sports punters to play games who wouldn’t ordinarily do so.
All virtual sports are regulated in the same way that normal sports betting is so be assured your bets are safe and fair. The software that runs the games is tested independently to ensure it is random and pays out at the levels stated.
History of Virtual Sports and Betting On Them
On these pages we’ve looked at everything from cricket to American football, snooker to the F1. We’ve looked at sports that could be put into the ‘obscure’ category as well as ones that are watched by millions of people around the world every single week. Now, though, we’re looking at a side of the betting industry that is as modern as it is controversial in some quarters. Virtual sports aren’t the sort of thing that gets the blood pumping as much as watching an ice hockey team smash into one another for an hour, yet they’re a popular thing to bet on and they’re getting better and better all the time in terms of how the technology works.
The interesting thing about virtual sports is the manner in which some are willing to look down upon it in a way that they wouldn’t with electronic card games or computerised roulette. They essentially work in the same manner, but those that can be snobbish about seeing electronically rendered horses running along a track will happily play poker against a computer and feel as though it’s a more realistic representation of the game. The more that computer systems are improving, however, the more that virtual sports are gaining respect from bettors of all walks of life. Here’s a look at how they work, which is a little different to how we’ve looked at other sports.
What Are Virtual Sports?
Let’s start with the obvious: a look at what virtual sports actually are. They are electronic versions of real life sports, though they aren’t replications of actual events that have taken place in the past. Instead, a computer will use random number generator technology to display a visual representation of how a sports even might play out, allowing punters to place wagers on the different participants.
Football fans who enjoy games such as FIFA or Pro Evolution Soccer and like to put them on the mode when the computer controls both teams and simply watch the match play out will know what sort of thing we’re talking about here. It’s a computerised algorithm made visual thinks to the improvements in technology that allow punters to see an event unfold and then bet on it accordingly.
History Of Virtual Sports
In 1961, an IBM 1620 was coded by John Burgeson to show a fantasy-based version of baseball. It wasn’t used as a betting platform at the time but was instead intended to demonstrate the power of the computer and coding in general. Two players were able to pick two teams and use combination of a random number generator and player statistics to see play-by-plays on a game.
That original game took up just twenty kilobytes of data, which was a large amount at the time but is basically nothing by today’s standards. There was no visualisation of the game, bar the play-by-plays. Modern day virtual sports are significantly different, of course. The use of motion capture technology and computers that make the IBM 1620 look like a relic from another time means that today’s virtual sports players can essentially watch a match with their own eyes and make calls according to how the players seem to be playing.
The games still have their basis in fantasy versions of the sport. For decades statisticians would use information available to them from previous games to imagine how a match might work out if certain players were taking part in it. As time has gone on this has also been extended to imagine how classic sportsmen might have got on against modern day or even fictional ones. How would Rocky Balboa have gotten on against Muhammad Ali, for example? Virtual sports allow programmers to ask the questions and bettors to place wagers on the answers.
Virtual Sports and Online Betting
As online betting grew in popularity, so too did the desire to bet on certain aspects of the market that regular sports couldn’t offer. Because they are essentially computer programs, those that are responsible for engineering them can add in whatever they want to the game depending on what it is that punters want to bet on.
Another hugely important part of virtual sports is the fact that they can begin at any time. If there’s a huge demand to bet on jump racing, say, and it’s outside of the jump racing season then an online casino can simply run a virtual sports jump race for those that want to bet on it. They can also run games, races or matches at any time of day or night, allowing the companies to take bets whenever it is that someone wants to place one.
Virtual sports might not be perfect in many ways, with the fact that random number generators are used meaning that results can’t necessarily take into account things like fatigue or changes to a player’s mental capacity that happen in the real world. Yet unlike real people, virtual sports teams aren’t susceptible to the likes of bribery or the influence of playing against their childhood team, for example.
One argument is that as virtual sports look a lot like computer games then they will appeal to children. This may well be the case and betting on these is restricted to over 18’s as with any forms of gambling. Personally I can’t see why a virtual football match is any more appealing than a casino game however.
Major Virtual Sports Markets
There are certain virtual sports that are more common than others and that tend to be offered by the biggest bookies. Here’s a look at each of them:
Virtual Horse and Greyhound Racing
These are a sports that lends themselves to the virtual world on account of the fact that statistics are so readily available on real-life horses/dogs.
Competitive horses that are raced professionally will have stats on them that tell you when they’ve had a run, which course it was on, what the Going was like at the time and how much weight, if any, they were carrying as a handicap. With that information you can then speculate as to how they would perform if there was a mixture of those conditions at a future race. It’s why horse racing bettors pour over the form of the competitors before they place their wagers on a race.
Virtual sports are beloved of animal rights organisations as they allow people to bet on a horse race without any actual horses being involved or put at risk. It will obviously never take over real racing for those that like to watch it, considering that it doesn’t allow for people to look a horse in the eye and get a sense of the mood their in from the way that they’re handled by the jockey. Even so, animal rights advocates will continue to favour it as a method of racing that people can bet on. Virtual greyhound racing is popular for similar reasons.
You should be able to bet on virtual horse and greyhound racing with all bookies that offer virtual sports.
As suggested before, virtual football is a version of the sport that might be familiar to those of you that tend to play popular console games. It’s also one of the virtual sports that is extremely popular, mainly because so many people are used to seeing computerised versions of footballers. Inspired Entertainment’s Rush Football 2 is one of the most popular virtual football games to bet on.
Betting on it works in much the same way as betting on traditional football games, with the major different being the length of time it takes to witness an outcome. Virtual games can take place every thirty seconds, should a bookmaker want that to be the case. That means that punters don’t have to wait nearly two hours to see if their bets have come in as they would do with a real football match.
Again most sites that offer virtuals will provide football as a market.
Other Virtual Sports
Other alternatives to real sports include the likes of virtual basketball, virtual American football, virtual tennis, virtual motor racing and even virtual cockfighting.
If there’s a sport that you particularly want to be able to bet on in a virtual fashion then you just need to shop around to see which bookies have you covered. The best place to start would be our recommended virtuals sites further up this page.
Real Sports v Virtual Sports: What To Think About
Obviously there are numerous differences between real sports and their virtual alternatives, with the aforementioned physical and mental fatigue being just the start of it. One of the big differences is that you don’t need to study the form book as you would with real sport, meaning that you don’t need to know which footballers are injured or which baseball players have recently picked up a hand injury, say. In fact, you don’t even need to have prior knowledge of the sport at all if you don’t want to.
The fact that there are less variations with virtual sports compared to real ones means that it’s actually even easier to bet on the former than the latter. You will never have an unexpected change in a virtual sport, such as a player dropping out of the team at the last minute. You’ll also find that things such as poor refereeing decisions won’t influence the outcome of virtual sports as much as real sports.