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Bringing virtual sports to the mainstream iGaming market

Much will ultimately depend on whether virtual sports can ever replicate the atmosphere of corporeal action

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Image: Red Bull

While the iGaming market is now choc-full of both established and emerging casino platforms, it’s the former that continue to lead the way in terms of revenues and bottom-line profitability. 

Of course, emerging and startup platforms have developed something of an edge in terms of innovation of late, although larger players such as 888.com made significant ground in this respect last year. 

If you’re interested in learning more about this platform, you can read a review here, but 2019 definitely saw the 888 brand bring virtual sports games and betting kicking and screaming into the consumer mainstream.

But how did they achieve this, and why have virtual sports become such a revenue-rich niche for operators over the course of the last 18 months or so?

Teaming Up with Gold Race ‘Beyond Virtuals’ – What Do You Need to Know?

Renowned as one of the world’s leading iGaming and online entertainment platforms, 888 broke new ground in the virtual sports space by partnering with Golden Race ‘Beyond Virtuals’.

The aim of this collaboration was clear; to deliver a huge range of virtual sports games for both 888casino and 888sport, while leveraging an increasingly popular vertical that continues to draw huge sums of money.

For their part, Golden Race has been at the forefront of cutting-edge virtual sports games for more than 15 years, conceiving authentic and immersive games such as virtual horse racing and 3D virtual football. The latter is actually home to more than 20 individual leagues and tournaments, each of which now be available to players across both of 888’s flagship platforms.

These players will also benefit from 3D and virtual iterations of dog racing, speedway and motorbike racing, which provide access to real-time betting markets with incorporated RNGs to ensure transparency at all times.

Interestingly, Golden Race are the leaders in this field, thanks to the quality of their in-house teams and the access that they have to the very latest technologies. 

This enables them to create genuinely authentic and immersive replications of the world’s most popular sports and events, while the collaboration with 888 will augment this with a familiar sportsbook interface and a significantly increased audience.

In many ways, each of these respective market leaders provides a natural fit for one another, with 888casino also established as a multi-award-winning operator that won the Casino Operator of the Year Award from EGR last year.

So, by joining forces and combining their considerable technical expertise and resources, both companies will be able to scale their growth organically and provide an outstanding online experience to players across the globe.

These players will also be able to access their favorite sports virtually and through a huge number of camera angles while enjoying multi-lingual support and professional voiceovers (or commentary) that add another layer of authenticity to proceedings.

Ultimately, this makes for a marriage made in heaven, and one that could ultimately popularise virtual sports betting on an even larger scale.

The Rise of Virtual Sports and What This Means for the iGaming Market

If anyone had said a decade ago that virtual sports would one day emerge as a significant revenue stream in the iGaming niche, most people would have dismissed such seemingly fanciful claims.

However, significant graphical and audio improvements have elevated virtual and three-dimensional gaming onto an entirely new level, creating an opportunity for developers to replicate the most popular sporting events at any given time.

While authenticity may be key to the appeal of virtual sports (and indeed any online casino experience in the digital age), this trend is also indicative of a changing mindset amongst gamblers.

More specifically, gamblers are now increasingly happy to wager online and within an augmented and bespoke reality, and one that puts them in greater control of when and how they bet on events.

This shift in mindset is also borne out in part by the rising popularity of eSports, which is also rooted in a kind of virtual reality and is set to underpin a global marketplace worth more than $1.1 billion by the end of this year.

The question that remains, of course, is whether virtuals sports can ever overtake the real thing, in the same way that iGaming has evolved to claim a 37% share of the overall gambling industry in developed countries such as the UK?

It’s hard to answer this question at this stage, not least because this isn’t an equal analogy by most measures. However, the rise of iGaming does indicate that people are happy to eschew brick-and-mortar gambling for the online alternative, and it’s more than conceivable that a similar trend could unfold in the sports betting space.

Much will ultimately depend on whether virtual sports can ever replicate the atmosphere of corporeal action, but who knows what can happen in time and with sustained technological advancement?

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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