It may not be sports betting, but for New Jersey gamblers anxiously waiting for the first online sports books to launch, virtual sports betting should prove a worthy tie over.
The format, which debuted in November 2017 on two NJ online gambling sites, and later expanded in 2018 to six more, enables users to place real-money wagers on a variety of virtual races and sporting contests, just as they would for a traditional sports betting contest.
But that’s about where the similarities end. In this brief overview, we’ll dig deep into what virtual sports betting actually is and answer some of the most common player inquiries.
What are virtual sports?
The virtual sports format was first popularized in European betting markets, and was designed in part to allow bettors to fill the time gap between live sporting contests.
The format was made possible by advances in digital technology, that allowed developers to produce current-gen video game quality broadcasts depicting racing and sporting events. These broadcasts, combined with sophisticated computer algorithms that determine match outcomes, are the basis of virtual sports.
Betting for virtual sports contests is done in much the same matter as they are for their real-life counterparts. Bettors can place a variety of wagers, across various stakes, on the team or contestant of their liking. Odds are posted before the match, indicating the relative skill of each participant. Skill and randomized factors (luck) are used by the computer system to determine the winner and/or placement of the contestants.
Winners are paid out in accordance with the odds almost immediately after the short contest concludes.
The format is popular with sports bettors because it grants them constant access to sporting contests. It’s this same high frequency of contests, along with the reliable house take, that makes virtual sports a hit with operators.
Which NJ online casinos support the virtual sports format?
Currently, there are eight: Play SugarHouse and Betfair Casino were first to market, followed by Golden Nugget Casino, Resorts Casino, Mohegan Sun Casino, and Caesars Casino. Betfair also features virtual sports betting on its international sportsbook.
Lastly, Borgata Casino and playMGM Casino, which are part of the same GVC-powered network, began offering the format in March.
The launch of virtual sports on other NJ online casino sites, namely Pala Casino, appears imminent.
All six sites use the same software, provided by Inspired Entertainment, for their virtual sports games. They also feature the same five contest types: Horse racing, soccer, greyhound racing, motorcycle racing, and car racing.
Games are available on desktop as well as on the sites’ Android and iOS-powered mobile NJ gambling apps, and run round the clock.
Is virtual sports betting legal in New Jersey?
Yes. Virtual sports did not fall under the purview of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, as it doesn’t relate to real-world sporting events. And even if it did, the US Supreme Court recently struck PASPA from the books.
Theoretically, virtual sports can therefore be featured at any New Jersey online or Atlantic City casino. However, like any online gambling game, it had to first receive regulatory approval from New Jersey’s gaming governing body, the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement, before a rollout was permitted. And that’s exactly what happened.
Thus, players can rest assured that the virtual sports format was subject to the same level of testing and scrutiny as any slot or table game present on a legal NJ online casino site, thus ensuring game integrity and fairness.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of virtual sports NJ?
- Can be played from any location within the state of New Jersey
- The only form of sports betting currently available online in New Jersey
- Available on both desktop and mobile playing devices
- Wagering minimums as low as $2
- Contests run around the clock, and are spaced just a few minutes apart
- Multiple bets available per contest type
- Outcomes are determined by a random-number generator, nullifying the skill element of traditional sports betting
- Only one sporting contest: soccer
- Video feeds can be choppy on mobile playing devices, and on computers with slower internet connections
- Not the best game to play in terms of house edge; but some bets are better than others
Virtual sports games at NJ online casinos
Currently there are five virtual sports contest types available, which can be broken down into two categories: sports and races.
The only sporting event currently available is soccer, with the other four game variants falling under the racing category.
Soccer games run every four minutes. This is made possible by the stream only revealing the highlights of each contest, thus boiling down what is usually a two-hour game into just approximately 120 seconds.
Before the match begins, players can place a variety of bets, including:
- Match betting: Simple wager where players bet on the winner of the game, or to draw.
- Correct score: Wager on the exact final score of the match.
- Total goals: Sum of goals scored by both teams
- Over/Under 2.5 goals
- First team to score
- Last team to score
- Half-time result: Same format as match betting, just for the first half.
Players can place bets on up to five matches ahead, giving them a maximum of 20 minutes or so to look over the odds. Payouts are typically distributed within 30 seconds of a match’s close.
There are four racing variants:
In terms of betting, these all effectively function the same way. Players can bet on their preferred choice to Win or Place, or place a wager on an Exacta and/or Trifecta. The only exception to this rule is Motorcycle racing, which due to the small field size, does not allow for the Trifecta wager.
Contests for each variant run four minutes apart, and are staggered in such a way that there’s never more than a minute or two in which some form of racing is not spotlighted.