DraftKings, Inspired Entertainment Reach Virtual Sporting Betting Deal In New Jersey

Real sports are mostly on a hiatus, but Inspired Entertainment is bringing virtual sports, including a NFL-branded game, to DraftKings in NJ.
virtual sports

With no sports on the TV airwaves, DraftKings Casino NJ now has a deal to bring virtual sports from Inspired Entertainment to its legal and regulated platform.

On Thursday, Inspired announced that it had signed a contract with the Boston-based company to provide its virtual sports betting product to DraftKings in the Garden State. The arrangement allows for “minimal integration effort and rapid speed-to-market,” Inspired said.

No official launch date was provided.

Virtual sports from Inspired, which debuted in the Garden State in November 2017 on two online gambling sites, came ahead of the May 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that paved the way for New Jersey and other states to move forward with gambling on real sports.

While gambling on real sports involves an element of skill, virtual sports is akin to wagering on a slot machine. Virtual sports betting, now widely available across New Jersey’s online gambling industry, doesn’t involve skill. It has the look and feel of a video game.

The ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis closed brick-and-mortar casinos in Atlantic City in mid-March, but online gambling has continued. Last month, the online casinos in the state won $64.8 million from gamblers, up more than 65% year-over-year. Sports betting revenue of $13.1 million was down nearly 60% year-over-year and will fall even further in the coming months as the sports world was alive and well for about two weeks in March. Revenue from virtual sports wagering in the Garden State is included under online casino.

Inspired referenced the situation with real sports in its presser last week.

“Not only do we have the largest and most advanced portfolio of virtual sports,” Inspired President and Chief Operating Officer Brooks Pierce said, “we tailor our products to sports fanatics with a combination of fast-paced action, ultra-realistic player simulations, and a tremendous breadth of bet types. We are looking forward to working with DraftKings on bringing a continual stream of betting content to their customer base, especially at this time when there is limited live sports content available.”

Real sports are expected to make a comeback in the coming weeks and months, but it’s unclear when the sports world will return to something close to resembling normal.

Offerings for DraftKings

The deal with Inspired includes 14 virtual sports variants, including basketball, football, horse racing, soccer, and car racing. All are available 24/7.

The football product utilizes Inspired’s deal with NFL Alumni, forged in 2019, to use official branding and the names of former NFL greats. The “legends” virtual football product features 11 teams of the former stars facing off in a single game format. In-game wagering is available.

Inspired’s basketball game does not utilize NBA branding.

Inspired, which also has casino and lottery content, received regulatory approval in Nevada in 2016 through a business arrangement with William Hill.

Inspired operates in about 35 jurisdictions worldwide, according to the company, including content/products for more than 100 operators. In Europe, it’s reported that virtual sports accounts for as much as a third of revenues for some online gambling platforms. Gambling on these simulated contests is expected to grow over time in the U.S.

Inspired powers the Pennsylvania Lottery’s Xpress Sports offering, which began in August 2018.

The news of the deal with DraftKings follows a successful fourth quarter for Inspired in which it reported revenues of more than $60 million.

Highlight Games, which is behind the NBA Last 90 virtual sports wagering product, is an Inspired rival in the nascent U.S. iGaming market.

Some form of online casino gambling is legal in just six states, two of which have not yet launched.


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