Those of you who are regular visitors to sportsbooks will undoubtedly have seen ‘Virtual Sports’ listed as an option. If you’ve got no idea what virtual sports actually are, though, you’ve probably always skipped over it! That’s perfectly understandable. Do be aware, however, that you’re actually skipping over some pretty serious betting opportunities. After all, virtual sports betting offers hundreds, if not thousands of markets each day, with each of those being a chance for you to make money.
For starters, they are not video games. While obviously they’re still virtual, you have no direct control over the outcome of a matchup. Instead, you must watch a match play out, as you would with real-life sports. The main difference is that – rather than being determined by human players – the results are determined by a computer algorithm (more on that later). You’re still given a few choices in how you bet on those outcomes, though, and any winnings from virtual betting are still paid in real cash.
Because they’re not limited by any real-world practicalities, virtual sports take place almost constantly on platforms where they’re available. Whatever time of day you log on, there will either already be a live event in progress, or one will be starting shortly. They will usually be available on a few different sports too, with the most popular – as with real-life betting markets – being football and horse racing.
To start off with, virtual sports were seen as something of a luxury feature. Once their popularity became clear, however, they became increasingly widespread. Nowadays, you’ve actually got a whole lot of choice when it comes to picking a sportsbook with virtual sports.
To save you the trouble of trawling through them all, though, here are the five best virtual sports betting sites on the market right now.
10Bet are arguably the least famous brand on this list, but don’t let that fool you. They’ve established an excellent track record since being founded in 2003, and boast an excellent, highly modern feature set, including one of the best virtual sports offerings you’ll find.
Arguably the three most popular real-life betting sports – football, horse racing, and tennis – are available in virtual form here. Basketball and greyhound racing are also included, presenting you with a healthy range of options from one single platform. Whichever sport you choose, you’ll usually have several ongoing matches to pick from at once, all featuring completely different teams. You get a decent amount of choice in how you bet on each match too, with each football match – for example – presenting you with bet types like Match Result, Correct Score, Double Chance, Over/Under Goals, and more.
One of the more interesting options which 10Bet offer is their ‘Instants’ variant on virtual sports. Rather than watching through an extended match, as you’d normally need to, Instants play out immediately after you’ve made your bets, generating a result… instantly! If you’re pressed for time, therefore, but still want the excitement of sticking down a wager, this is an excellent solution. Even better, Instants aren’t merely available on football, but on a range of horse, greyhound, and even bicycle racing too.
Software for 10Bet has been created by the highly-regarded SBTech, and – from a technical perspective – we found the virtual sports to work flawlessly. While the graphics aren’t necessarily the most impressive we’ve seen, everything streamed extremely smoothly, and matches load almost instantly.
Ladbrokes is easily one of the biggest and most experienced names in sports betting. Having been founded all the way back in 1886, their staying power has been simply remarkable, as has their ability to keep moving with the times. Nowadays, this manifests itself in an outstanding online betting platform, which also happens to be one of the best virtual sports betting sites around.
Virtual sports are given their own dedicated section here, which is just as neatly-arranged as everything else on this intuitive website. While not enormous, the range of virtual sports available here still encompasses the biggest hitters; namely football, horse racing, greyhound racing, and motorsports.
The sheer quality of the streaming here is outstanding. From the graphics, to the animations, to the sounds of virtual crowds, Ladbrokes manage to create a genuinely immersive atmosphere. Most of the credit for this, of course, must go to Inspired Entertainment, their software provider. Inspired have been in business since 2002, and their outstanding track record includes EGR awards for Best Virtual Sports Supplier, with the most recent coming in 2020.
All this quality compels you to want to get involved, which you can do simply enough with a solid range of betting markets. All the usual most popular bet types are available for football – Match Winner, Over/Under goals, and so on – and Win, Each Way, Forecast and Tricast wagers are available on virtual horse racing.
Betway are actually the newest platform on our list, only launching back in 2006. This has still allowed them ample time to enjoy incredible success, though, and they are now firmly established as one of the biggest names on the British betting scene. Partly this has come through massive sponsorship deals, of course, with the likes of West Ham and the Grand National festival. But the quality of their execution of online betting features simply can’t be overlooked, and this absolutely applies to their virtual sports offering too.
Football is the headline sport here, as you’d expect, and with new games kicking off every three minutes, you’re never waiting long for your next betting opportunity. The quality of the matches shown is highly impressive, with incredibly lifelike animations – plus live audio commentary – helping to create the feeling that you’re watching a real-life game. You’re also given more ways in which to wager than elsewhere, with Handicaps, Winning Margin, and 1st Half/2nd Half bets all available alongside the usual suspects.
Elsewhere, the other available Betway virtual games – horse racing, cycling, greyhound racing, motor racing, speedway, and trotting – are handled with similar style. All have new events kicking off constantly, and a quality of presentation which helps trick you into thinking you’re watching the real thing.
Like Ladbrokes, Betway have made the smart decision to use Inspired Entertainment as their software provider. All of Inspired’s experience has helped to ensure that the streaming here is kept nice and stable throughout, and is equally good on mobile apps as on the desktop version.
The success Bet365 have enjoyed in the past couple of decades has been astounding. Despite only being founded in 2000, making them far younger than the likes of Ladbrokes, William Hill, and so on, they’ve comfortably established themselves as one of the most dominant sportsbooks in the industry. Part of this was due to going online-only from the start, and this commitment to digital betting has seen them stay ahead of the curve ever since. Their excellent virtual betting section is simply the latest example of this lengthy trend.
For starters, Bet365 offer easily one of the most wide-ranging selections of virtual sports. You’ll not only find horse racing and football here, but greyhound racing, cycling, trotting, motor racing, basketball, tennis, darts, basketball, and cricket too. Even better, whilst most bookies opt for random matchups between their virtual competitors, Bet365 have actually implemented league systems or other competitions for several of their sports. This gives proceedings the type of context you’d get from a real-life matchup, helping to make the whole thing more compelling.
While there aren’t any virtual sports promotions at the time of writing, there are still plenty of ways to find value here. These mostly come via an incredibly flexible range of bet types. Within the Bet365 virtual football markets, for example, in addition to simply betting Correct Score, you can actually take a ‘Correct Score Group’ wager, building three possible ‘correct’ scores into one bet. You’ll find similar room for flexibility elsewhere in other sports, too.
In terms of presentation, everything in Bet365’s virtual sports section screams quality. From the graphics and animations, to the live commentary (some of which is provided by well-known voices, including former England spinner Phil Tufnell on cricket), this is another example of a bookie providing an immersive virtual experience.
Coral might technically have been acquired by Ladbrokes several years ago, but it’s still very much its own distinct brand. Most importantly, they’ve retained the qualities which have helped them develop into one of the most successful betting companies in the UK since being founded way back in 1926. Like Ladbrokes, Coral have done a wonderful job of keeping up with the fast-paced technological developments of recent times, and this is perfectly displayed in their selection of virtual sports.
While not as wide as Bet365’s, for example, the collection of supported sports here will be more than enough for most bettors. In addition to football and horse racing, you can also bet on virtual greyhound racing, cycling, and darts. New events start every three minutes for all sports except darts, whose five minute intervals are only slightly slower.
In terms of sheer variety of bet types, this is easily one of the top virtual betting sites around. Whether you’re betting in-play or pre-match, you’re rarely limited to one or two different choices. Darts alone, for example, gives you nine different bet types to choose from, while in football you can pick between old favourites like Match Winner, Correct Score, Over/Under Goals, and Double Chance.
There might not be any actual offers available right now for virtual sports, but Coral still show plenty of flair for innovation. The best example is undoubtedly Coral Legends, in which Coral use performance data to race thousands of historical jockeys and horses against each other, with you – the bettor – able to wager on who you think will come out on top. Like all other aspects of their virtual sports offering, this intriguing feature is available on the mobile app, as well as the desktop version.
Those of you who’ve only tried real-life betting before may be disappointed at the number of virtual sports which tend to be available on a platform. With real sports, pretty much every modern-day bookie will have 30 or more sports to bet on. With virtual sports, this is usually reduced to a mere handful.
That said, the ones which are provided tend to be the most popular sports for British bettors anyway! Below, you’ll find a list of the biggest virtual sports to bet on, plus an explanation of how they differ from their real-life counterparts.
As the dominant real-life online betting market, it’s no surprise to see that football is the most popular virtual sport to bet on too. While the other sports they provide will differ, just about every major bookie around will offer virtual football betting.
How does virtual football betting work, though, and how does the sport itself differ from real football?
For starters, results in virtual football – as they are for every other such market – are calculated by a virtual sports algorithm. These operate via random number generators (RNG’s) to decide results, with no real life data – related to teams, players, and so on – being used.
Elsewhere, virtual games are much shorter. Real matches obviously last 90 minutes, but here a new match will kick off every three minutes. This usually boils down to around 90 seconds for pre-match betting, one minute of actual playing time – presented as highlights – then a 30 second gap before the next match. While obviously that means you can’t get as much of a ‘feel’ for the game, there’s a lot to be said for getting the result of an entire football match so quickly!
Finally, the ways in which fixtures are decided varies from bookie to bookie. With some, matchups are simply random, even pitting domestic teams against international ones. Others, though, create entire leagues full of virtual teams, who duke it out for top spot. While the results are still random, this does help to create context – and therefore additional excitement – around proceedings.
Horse racing was the ‘original’ modern betting sport, and remains enormously popular today. That goes not just for in-person racecourse betting, but for online gambling too. It makes sense, therefore, that horse racing – alongside football – is also the most popular virtual sport.
Just like real-life horse racing, all the betting on virtual racing takes place before the off, with no ‘in-play’ options available. Just about every bookie will offer you the same two main bet types – Win and Each Way – and many will also support Forecast and Tricast wagers.
That’s more or less where the similarities between real and virtual racing end, though. The major difference – as with football – is that real-life horses, and their form, have no place in virtual racing. Instead, results are determined by a random number generator, with the winning horse picked completely by chance.
This also means that the odds are fixed in place before the race, rather than being liable to change as real odds do. By extension, this means you don’t need to worry about choosing between the current odds and a Starting Price wager. Non-runners – whether through injury or any other factor – are also not a problem, nor is weather a factor, and all race results are settled immediately (rather than needing to be reviewed by officials).
New virtual horse races tend to start every 1-3 minutes at most bookies. Although there’s a mix of flat races, sprints, and jumps, events are usually random one-offs, rather than part of a larger competition.
For a long time, darts has been a seriously underrated betting market. It might not quite have the year-round appeal of football or horse racing, but it still draws in both viewers and bettors in their droves. While virtual darts can’t quite match the intensity of the real thing, mostly due to the lack of raucous crowds, it’s still a very compelling virtual sport to bet on.
In part, that’s because software developers do indeed try to make virtual darts as close to reality as possible. For starters, rather than having completely animated participants like most sports, virtual darts features real players throwing (against a virtual backdrop), and real darts hitting the board. Only the spot in which the darts actually land on each throw is determined by an RNG, which ensures that everything is fair. Add in the same ‘split screen’ layout you’ll find from genuine televised darts, and the whole thing really does start to feel pretty real!
Virtual darts betting also consists of a few different types of wagers. Naturally you can bet on the Match Winner, but the likes of Over/Under 40.5 Checkout Total, Checkout Colour, and even 9 Dart Finish are other common markets.
Greyhound racing doesn’t quite have the popularity it used to in the UK, but it’s absolutely still a major betting market. On the virtual betting scene, it’s also one of the most common sports to find… so clearly it retains a sizable audience!
On sites which do indeed offer virtual greyhound racing, new races usually begin every couple of minutes, meaning you’re never waiting around long for a betting opportunity. Virtual races are shorter than their real-life counterparts too, tending to last anywhere between 40 seconds and a minute. You’ll usually get either six or eight dogs running in each race, and most bookies will have at least two courses on which they rotate races, to help keep things interesting.
Elsewhere, there are quite a few similarities between virtual greyhound racing and horse racing. This variation also has completely fixed odds, meaning that you don’t need to keep an eye on the starting price. An RNG is used to determine results too, with neither form nor a greyhound’s actual ability playing any factor. Almost every bookie will offer both Winner and Each Way bets, and many will also let you place Forecast or Tricast wagers, which help you lock in the first two or three places respectively as ‘winners’.
Within the broad category of motorsports, there’s a pretty hefty range of variety. Whether it be different cars, tracks, or rulesets, it’s not hard to see why this is an area which not only appeals to so many TV viewers, but to so many bettors too. Of course, even when there’s no real-life race on which you’re interested in, you’ll find plenty of virtual races available to bet on instead.
As in real life, there’s a wide variety of different virtual motorsports you can bet on. Although they won’t have official branding, there are virtual equivalents of Formula 1, Nascar, Speedway, and so on available at most major bookies. Between accurate camera angles, good graphics, and sometimes even live commentary, these do actually serve as pretty good approximations of the real thing.
By far the biggest difference, though, is the time each race takes. While real life F1 races, for example, might last a couple of hours, their virtual equivalents will be over in a couple of minutes. In short, you’ll essentially be shown the beginning of the race, some highlights in the middle, and its conclusion.
Like the other forms of racing we’ve looked at, the entrants here are fictional, and results here are determined by an RNG. All your favourite bet types will be available from most bookies, including Winner, Each Way, Forecast, and Tricast.
While it might not get the same marketing attention as the others, tennis may well be the third-most popular sport to bet on, following football and horse racing. It’s somewhat surprising, therefore, to find that not all bookies who feature virtual sports will actually offer tennis. Those that do, however, provide an incredible volume and variety of matches to bet on.
Visually, virtual tennis looks like an extremely high-end video game, with the bigger bookies tending to use developers who can provide impressive graphics and smooth animations. By mirroring the top-down view of a point being played, though, and cutting away to the players between points, it does have a realistic feel to it. Likewise, while the players are all fictional, watching a point being played still also has the compelling tension of the real thing.
Fans of real tennis betting will be pleased to discover a similar level of flexibility here, in terms of bet types. In fact, rather than limiting you to simple Match Winner bets, some bookies will allow you to get incredibly specific. Not only can you bet set-by-set, but you can bet game-by-game too, even predicting the winner of the very next point! This willingness to facilitate in-play bets is rare among virtual sports, and really sets virtual tennis apart from the crowd.
Before you start developing your own virtual sports strategy, it’s extremely important that you understand the differences between this variation and the real thing. For our money, these are the four biggest ways in which virtual sports differ from regular ones.
By now, you should have a thorough understanding of how exactly virtual sports work. In order to turn an actual profit from betting on them, though, there are a few other things to bear in mind. These are some of the most important virtual sports tips to follow.
To an outsider, virtual sports might seem confusing, or even downright strange. When you spend any actual time with them, however, you’ll quickly see the appeal. Virtual sports offer you unlimited matchups to bet on, are far less time-consuming than regular sports, and – assuming you go with a legitimate bookie – are completely fair.
If you’re an experienced bettor, virtual sports are a fun way to switch things up. If you’re completely new to betting, they’re an excellent entry point. Either way, we’d highly recommend signing up with one of our recommended bookies, taking advantage of their welcome offer… and simply giving virtual sports a shot!
Results are determined using a random number generator (RNG). This is a computer algorithm which ensures each result is either random, or obviously biased towards particular entrants (the ‘favourites’). Form, ability, and so on play no factors in the result.
The same way as a normal bet. You place a wager either pre-match or in-play, using a real money stake. If your chosen outcome actually happens then you’ll make money, with the profit determined by the odds you were given.
If you go with a legitimate sportsbook, yes. To ensure a bookie is legit, check that they hold a license with the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. The authorities in Malta and Gibraltar are also highly respected.
Not usually. Some bookies take the trouble to run leagues, cups, or other season-based competitions. With most, however, the matchups are completely random, and devoid of context.