The COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing, but data indicates that new infections are leveling off, and states are opting for varying degrees of reopening. Because major sports involve interstate travel, leagues are forced to get creative to begin play.
The PGA is set to resume its schedule on June 11th at the Fort Worth Invitational. Forbes is reporting that the event will be held without fans and that social distancing practices will be used, but plans have not been finalized. Regardless of spectator presence, online gamblers will be eager to bet on golf, and sportsbooks are counting on it.
NBA Basketball has not set forth a strategy to reopen, but those that are interested in betting on Major League Baseball may have something to wager on soon. The MLB seems poised to jump-start their season by bringing all teams to Arizona and playing games in bulk, again, with no fans. No date has been announced for MLB’s opening day.
Even with these starting dates on the horizon, that still leaves a minimum of five weeks without any major sports to wager on. The scenario provided by the absence of real games on the calendar has allowed for the emergence of betting on virtual sports at top-rated online sportsbooks.
So just what are virtual sports anyway? Bettors encountering virtual contests for the first time will find them comparable to a generic video game, with basic players and teams that don’t represent actual athletes and franchises. Sure, the Los Angeles basketball team might sport purple and yellow uniforms, but the similarities end there.
There is no human component involved. Just sit back and watch the action unfold through a streaming video and choose the odds that you want to wager on listed underneath. But what kind of virtual sports are available to bet on?
Right now, the options are limited to basketball, soccer, animal racing, and auto racing. Virtual basketball and soccer games are shown in the form of a series of highlights that lasts for around three to five minutes.
Virtual racing offers a more authentic betting experience, presenting the entire race. Virtual betting lines are just like the ones you’d encounter at a real racetrack with odds to show, place, trifectas, and more.
Some games provide a live commentary, which can create a more authentic viewing experience but can also present an awkward moment now and then when they try to dramatize the action using random player and team names.
The quarantine situation created by the Coronavirus pandemic has provided the perfect testing ground for virtual sports, and bettors have responded with a significant increase in betting activity. This additional revenue has been helpful to a gaming industry that is lagging during these trying economic times.
When major athletic contests return to playing fields and television screens, and sports betting reignites, will virtual sports remain in the spotlight? Not likely, but they have gone a long way to cement their place amongst other betting lines, and to provide offseason or late-night sports betting opportunities.