Will Virtual Sports Betting Catch On In United States Wagering?

Recently Gamesys Group Plc, operators for the Virgin and Tropicana online casinos; announced they had struck a deal with Spin Games LLC for use of content. The deal includes the virtual wagering game of NBA Last 60 as well as a few brand new slot games. Highlight Games, a developer from Britain; created NBA Last 60 and the game is different than other virtual sports games as they use real footage from NBA games.

NBA Last 60

NBA Last 60 uses real NBA footage clips from the last few seasons and puts them together to make a simulation of the last 60 seconds of a game that is made up. This is different than other virtual sports offerings that use digital animation rather than real footage.

NBA Last 60 players can choose the teams that they want to be in the fictitious game. Then they are given a few betting options such as game total or what team will win the game. When the player is done making their bets the game strings together the final 60 seconds of a game using real footage clips that the player watches to see if they have won.

NBA Last 90 was first available in June of 2019 from Highlight and later they came out with NBA Last 60.

Gamesys is the first gaming operator that had made a deal with Spin Games in order to offer NBA Last 60. In August of last year Resorts signed a deal for the NBA Last 90 version and then in October Golden Nugget did the same but for the NBA Last 60 version. Neither online casino currently has those games live but Golden Nugget announced they would be offering it sometime in the early part of 2020.

Highlight Has Soccer Virtual Games in Europe With Hockey Coming Soon

NBA Last 60/90 is not Highlight’s first virtual betting game, as their first was Soccerbet, which, as you can assume, is a virtual soccer game that is very popular in Italy and can be played at quite a few online sportsbooks in Europe. Soccerbet differs from NBA Last 60, as it has clips that make up a kind of highlight reel for entire soccer match that include goals scored, goals almost scored, and yellow or red cards handed out.

Highlight is working on a hockey virtual betting game and while they do not have a deal with the NHL they currently use footage from international games.

Considering Soccerbet is a popular virtual game in Europe Highlight is optimistic that their NBA 60/90 game will catch on in the United States. Soccerbet was available in Italy in 2019 and many Italian online sportsbooks now offer it and has become the most popular virtual betting game.

Highlight has also targeted Greece, as in December of 2019 they announced they had struck a deal with the Greek Football League in order to use their match footage for a virtual betting offering.

It would seem that basketball is better suited for a virtual betting game than soccer is. The pace of a basketball game allows for more highlights and there can be many of them even in the short time span of 60 seconds or 90 seconds. Highlight’s NBA virtual offering has more of a game feel with the last seconds of action as opposed to soccer stinging together highlights for the entire match meaning it has more a game recap feel.

Wait & Watch For US Betting Market

The virtual NBA game is well set up but there are some issues. The players and sometimes uniforms will change from one clip to the next and between each clip there is a fade-to-black. However, with the success of Soccerbet in Europe it looks as if bettors want to see real live action footage rather than footage that is computer generated.

One issue with virtual sports catching on in the U.S. is bettors from there are not as familiar with the product. In Europe online sports betting has been around much longer which means European bettors have seen the older computer generated versions of virtual betting games and ones with real footage at the same sportsbook. US Bettors have not seen a wide variety virtual games yet like bettors in Europe have.

In the limited options for virtual games in the US, they are typically grouped with the online casino games and are not easy to find. For example, Golden Nugget has a virtual soccer betting game as well as five kinds of virtual racing games, but they only show up on the 14th and 15th tabs and unless the bettor has a high-resolution display they have to scroll to find the games.

May Need More than a Great Product

It is unclear if virtual sports betting games would work at US sportsbooks. Regulators will have to make a decision if those types of games fall in the realm of sports betting games or casino games. Currently there is not any wagering law that has virtual sports betting provisions.

For sports betting and casino betting the demographics for each are, obviously, not the same. However, the virtual sports betting market may be more similar for casino betting than sports betting.

NBA Last 60/90 has a better chance to make it in the US gambling market considering they have official NBA branding and real game footage. Live dealer games at online casino have been a big success and that may show a demand for gaming products that fall between live gambling and virtual gambling.

Still, at the current time there is not an established market for virtual sports betting games. Much of the future success of them in the U.S. may depend on how to market those types of games to the typical better than wagers on sports. That is at the discretion of the regulators as well as how much gaming operators and the NBA will invest in promoting virtual sports betting games.

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