Virtual Betting – They are in charge of the 15:56 starter from Puntwell Park. There is a large field of 15 horses and the slight favorite is Laughing Lola, ridden by Simon Schuster, at 11/2.
Lola is slow. She is promptly pushed to the bottom of the pack and the race commentator doesn’t even mention her name in the first few stages. But then he mentions no horse by name, impersonally referring to each of the runners and riders only by their number. He’s in his 20s after all
Lola recovered in the second half of the race but could not get close to breakaway leader Lowitt, who stormed three or four lengths to the delight of the punters who backed him at 20-1.
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However, there is no time for photos in the winner’s circle, because a new competition starts in seconds. And if steeplechase racing didn’t appeal to you, now, on this Monday afternoon in early April, in the midst of a global pandemic that has all but eliminated live sports around the world.
Lest anyone think that one of the few side benefits of the global lockdown will be fewer opportunities for players to spend, virtual sports have filled the gap. Whether you’re betting on computerized thoroughbreds at Puntwell Park on sites like Betfair or betting on real human players in eSports tournaments. The gambling industry doesn’t need real sports to separate players from their money.
Therefore, with Betfair only listing four real live events on Monday afternoon – two tennis matches, one darts match, one volleyball match – gambling sites are becoming increasingly reliant on providing their own entertainment. Almost all major betting sites in the UK host these virtual sports events and they run around the clock, every two minutes like clockwork. No virus will beat Ecuador vs Ivory Coast in PaddyPower’s Virtual Soccer World Cup or Michaux Velodrome cycling at Betway. Well, just a computer virus.
Amazingly, these virtual events give bettors even less of a chance of beating the bookies than real events. Take, for example, the race listed above, which happens to be listed as “race 70, 879, 877” on the Betfair chart, which gives some indication of the frequency of these virtual events.
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Competitors and winning odds are listed on the site just minutes before each race, but beyond that, players are left with no information to make an informed judgment about which virtual horse is likely to win. Charts showing each horse’s latest form are shown briefly before the race, but players are so close to the actual form that they don’t have time to study it or compare it to other horses in the race as they would in a normal race. Gamblers are effectively betting blind.
The same goes for Monaco Kings vs Barcelona Braves soccer match played at Betway. There are many markets to bet on – match winner, total goals, exact score, away goals, etc. – but there is no other information to base the bet on other than marginal odds. Even before the “match” starts, a “bet close” is announced – just like before the start of all virtual sports I’ve seen on betting sites – meaning the player has no option to change the bet, once the action is over, they go on their way and they see which way the wind blows. And when I say matches, I mean a short set of FIFA-style match highlights. There is no way these sites are leaving a full 90 minutes between betting opportunities. The next one will start in no more than three minutes.
Charles Ritchie of Gambling with Lives, founded by families bereaved by gambling-related suicide, worries that people who normally gamble on regular sports will be drawn to these much more common, much less predictable virtual sports during the coronavirus gambling crisis. “Although virtual sports betting has until now only been a small part of the overall betting business, it is becoming increasingly popular with casual online gamblers,” he says.
“But these are not real sporting events – they are ‘events’ built entirely to provide an opportunity to make bets, lots and lots of bets in fact. Nobody cares about the result
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There is no “shape” to learn, no “winning” skill. They owe more to “slot machines” and casino games based on high-speed random number generators, which are associated with incredibly high levels of addiction. And here is the worry. Will more people who either don’t bet or bet on traditional sports be drawn into this dangerous activity, mostly out of boredom?
Virtual sports are not just broadcasts on gambling sites hidden from public view. They were turned into televised stand-ins for major sporting events during this crisis.
ITV, the UK’s second biggest TV channel, aired The Virtual Grand National – the AI version of the country’s biggest horse race – at exactly the same time as the real race last weekend. The virtual race featured all 40 horses and jockeys most likely to qualify for the Grand National, with spectators encouraged to bet on the race and bookies donating the winnings to NHS charities.
People watching the Virtual Grand National on TV in Leicester. (Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Images via… [+] Getty Images)
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The race was won by Potters Corner at 18-1, but Charles Ritchie fears the losers will not only be the punters who backed the other 39 virtual nags, but anyone who signed up to the gambling site to bet on first place in the charity race. “The concern of gambling reform campaigners is that this was just a trojan horse for the gambling companies and people have to set up an online account to place a bet … who will now be subjected to constant marketing by this greedy industry,” he says .
“Of course, it will also introduce a lot of people to the whole concept of virtual ‘sports’ betting, which is the only ‘sport’ you can bet on during these lockdown days. The event raised £2.6m for charity – a tiny fraction of the £14.5bn earned by the industry (and player losses). But for how many people is this the first step on the road to addiction? This £2.6 million will go towards the costs of gambling and suicide harm, adding to the estimated 500 gambling-related suicides each year in the UK.
Gambling companies don’t rely solely on virtual sports to entertain bored players. Take a look at any of the major betting sites over the past few weeks and you’ll notice eSports climbing up menus and appearing on ‘live’ screens much more prominently than before the coronavirus.
. Although figures on the volume of bets placed on such events are hard to come by, there are signs of a massive resurgence in eSports. Online Betting Guide claims to have seen a 943% increase in traffic to its eSports betting tips site, suggesting punters are looking for new ways to spend their money.
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“The COVID-19 crisis has the potential to have catastrophic consequences for gambling disorders in the UK and around the world,” warns Charles Ritchie. risk. But for many people, taking risks has become a huge part of the enjoyment of football. Online betting ads are everywhere: on the internet, on billboards and at matches, fans are encouraged to support their teams and players by earning some ‘in-game skin’.
I’m one of those fans who goes to games when I can, but most of the time I spend Sundays yelling at the Philadelphia Eagles (and the refs) from my apartment. COVID has changed a lot about me, but not necessarily the way I like to play. But for many who found crowds in the stands, bars and tailgates, the pandemic has disrupted the way they show their support. Virtual betting was legalized in many states at a time when many people needed it to maintain connections with teams and fans.
Something I find interesting about virtual sports betting marketing is that it encourages fans to have a different relationship with the game: a financial one. This may seem obvious since betting is a financial decision, but marketing compares betting profits to the profits of fan favorite players. For example, sportsgeek.com states in a post comparing sports betting sites: “Joey Bosa makes $43.8 million a year…Carson Wentz makes $43.4 million…Finding out how much NFL players make is incredibly fun, but is much more exciting to find
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