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Virtual Sports

The online wagering world faced many crises during the COVID-19 epidemic, but possibly the main one was the postponement or restriction of sporting events. The 2020 Olympic Games was perhaps the biggest event to fall foul of the global pandemic, plus the European Championships in football was cancelled too. Many sporting leagues suspended play or cancelled their seasons entirely.

This led to a problem for sports betting sites as the number of events that punters were able to place bets upon dwindled significantly. Most survived by expanding their betting options, but punters were less keen to bet on the Second Tier of the Lithuanian Under-17s handball league when they were expecting to bet on all that year’s major sporting events.

There was some good news, though – because of the loss of real sporting betting opportunities, Virtual Sports experienced a huge surge in popularity. While not as thrilling as betting on real sporting events, betting on virtual sports can still be entertaining, which is precisely what betting is supposed to be.

If you want to learn more about betting at online virtual sports casinos, then keep reading our virtual sports guide.

Best Virtual Sports Casinos in 2024

    Virtual Sports Betting and eSports

    There is a lot of confusion about what virtual sports actually means, and people get confused about the difference between similar disciplines. Some people even claim that virtual sports and eSports are the same – this could not be further from the truth.

    Virtual Sports are purely software-based versions of real sports such as football, horse racing, US sports, tennis, rugby union and so on. All the action presented via a virtual sports game is purely fictitious and has no connection with real sporting events. Players use the virtual sports software to place bets on an action that is purely software-generated and completely made up. Virtual sports games are usually found at online pokies and casino sites, and not at online sportsbooks.

    eSports is a name for competitive video gaming. Real people as individuals and as teams play against each other via popular gaming titles on PCs or gaming platforms such as the Xbox or Sony Playstation. Some of the most popular games used for eSports are World of Warcraft, Counterstrike: Global Offensive, Starcraft II and League of Legends. These are all team-based games – the most popular individual game is Fortnite. To muddy the waters, a little FIFA is also an eSports title, based of course on soccer. Punters can bet on eSports events just as they would on traditional sports. Esports betting is typically only available at online sports betting sites, and not at online pokies or casino sites.

    We hope that has un-muddied things a little for you if you were confused about the differences between virtual sports and eSports.

    Virtual Sports and Fantasy Sports

    People tend to mix up virtual sports and fantasy sports too, so here is an explanation of fantasy sports and why virtual sports and fantasy sports are very different, just like virtual sports and eSports.

    Fantasy sports are based on the performances of sportspeople in real sports. For example, someone playing fantasy football (soccer) may be required to select a team of eleven football players from different clubs. The football players would have different values and the fantasy football player a specific, limited budget so they could not simply select the eleven best players in a specific league.

    The football players are awarded points depending upon how well they perform over a specific matchday. They could gain five points for scoring a goal, or two points for being on the winning side. The fantasy football player with the most points (either during one week or during a season) is declared the winner and usually picks up a cash prize.

    Fantasy Sports are seldom used for betting purposes.


    Virtual Sports have been around far longer than you probably think. Virtual sports have probably been played since the 1950s, with pen and paper and calculators being used to decide the outcome of fictitious sporting matches and competitions.

    Engineer John Burgeson created the first computerised virtual sports game on an IBM computer in 1961. It was based on baseball and used pure random-number generation to simulate a game. Baseball remains one of the most popular simulated sports in the world today thanks to ‘Out of the Park’ which is a popular baseball simulation game, but one that is not commonly used as a virtual sport.

    Virtual sports games first appeared at online casinos in the mid-2000s. They were pale imitations of the kind of virtual sports game that you find at online casinos and sports sites today. For a start, they were purely text-based, so there was no ‘virtual’ action to look at.

    Those first games were football-based. Players were shown a series of football fixtures from a completely made-up football league. They could also study the latest league table and current form of the teams. Based on this information players could choose which teams to back having been offered odds on win, lose or draw for each side.

    Players would only have a limited time to place their bets – usually around three minutes. The games would then play out, but not in real-time. In this example, the ninety minutes of a game of football were condensed into one full minute of real-time. All game events (usually just the goals) were indicated with text only. Once the ninety virtual minutes or one real minute was up, players were paid if their bets were successful. They then had another three minutes or so to place their bets on the next round of matches, and so on and so on.

    Soon horse racing joined football as a virtual sport, with players having to study the form of fictitious horses before the start of the next purely fictitious race.

    Within a few years, many other sports had become virtual sports too, such as tennis, rugby union and US sports like American football.

    In the 2010s companies that made virtual sports games started adding aspects of the video to their games. In those fledgeling days, the video was essentially crude, but at least players were finally able to watch aspects of a football match or horse race taking place instead of just relying upon the text.

    Over time though the video aspect of sports games became increasingly sophisticated. Fast forward to 2020, and it is hard to even distinguish between a virtual sports game and live sports, and indeed some virtual sports games look so good you’d think you were watching someone play FIFA or PES, the world’s two most popular football video games.

    How to play Virtual Sports Betting Games at Online Casinos

    First of all, you will need to decide which sports game you are going to want to play. For this introduction, we are going to concentrate upon the most popular virtual sport of all – football or soccer as some parts of the world call it.

    When you start up a virtual football game, you will notice that the game does not wait for you to decide what you want to do. This is because the games run on a central server and not individually for you. This means that everyone using the software will observe the same games and see the same results when the games are over.

    You should be able to select a specific league or tournament on which to bet. Many events and teams will be purely fictitious, but some games use real leagues and real teams.

    Once the latest set of games have been completed, you will have a limited time to place your bets on the next set of games. You should be able to choose more than one game to bet on, although it is unlikely that you will be able to bet upon multiple leagues.

    Your range of betting options will not be the same as with true sports betting, but the following options should be available to you, in regards to football anyhow:

    Match Result

    Bet on a team to win, lose or draw a game.

    Double Chance

    Combine any two match outcomes. You can bet on a team to win or draw a match, lose or draw a match or win or lose (I.e. not draw) a match.

    Over/Under 2.5

    Bet on whether the game will see under 2.5 goals being scored in total (so, either 0, 1 or 2) or over 2.5 goals being scored (so 3 or more).

    Goal or No Goal

    Bet on the game containing at least one goal, or no goals at all from either side.

    To work out which bet to place you will need to look at the current league table and most recent results of the teams about to play.

    Naturally, the above only applies to football. Still, the principle is the same for all virtual sports in that a limited number of typical sports betting wagers will be available for each virtual event. When it comes to horse racing, for example, you will be able to bet on a horse to win or place, plus a small number of other events.

    There will normally be a limited time for you to place your bets. If you haven’t placed any bets by the time your time is up, it’s just hard luck. Remember that anyone connecting to the virtual sports server via an app will be betting on the same events.

    When the time is up, there will normally be the option to watch at least one of the games that you have bet upon. When it comes to events such as football, tennis and rugby union, you only see the ‘highlights’ of the event. With horse racing and greyhounds, you can see the entirety of the race.

    Once the event is over if any of your bets are winning ones you are paid out just as you would be following a non-virtual sporting contest. The next round of betting will begin, and so on.

    Virtual Sports Games available

    There are plenty of sports available virtual sports games and from many different software providers. For example, Playtech – one of the world’s leading online gambling software development companies – offers virtual football, tennis, basketball, horse racing, cycling, speedway and greyhound racing.

    Other common virtual sports available include rugby union, golf and American football, plus more oblique events such as trotting!

    Successful Virtual Sports Betting Strategy at Online Casinos

    Two things are important to remember when it comes to a successful virtual sports strategy at online casinos. The first is that betting on virtual sports will never be as entertaining as betting on real-world sports. The second is that you should only bet on virtual sports for entertainment purposes.

    The best way to think about betting on virtual sports is the adage ‘the best team usually wins, but sometimes it doesn’t’. Betting on the higher-placed team in a football match, for example, will win much often than not, but the returns will be low. You only need one upset to occur to wipe out your winnings from your previous ten successful bets, for example.

    Never expect virtual sports betting to give you a steady stream of income, and it never will.


    2020 has seen a rise in virtual sports gaming because of the restrictions placed upon real-world sports due to the effects of COVID-19. While an entertaining concept, they should never be considered a viable alternative to real-world sports betting. They are entertaining and should only ever be considered a source of entertainment and nothing more.

    Remember, no matter what you gamble upon be it an online virtual sports game, an online slot or betting upon Liverpool to win the EPL, always practice responsible gambling and never place a wager with money that you cannot afford to lose.

    Virtual Sports FAQ

    • How do I know that virtual sports are not fixed?

      That’s a very good question! Unlike online casino games and pokies, virtual sports results are not decided by random number generation. The result of any virtual sporting contest must be realistic, and of course, realistic sporting contents are not at all random. However, if the ‘best’ team wins every virtual sports match then virtual sports punters could guarantee for themselves genuine income by simply betting on the better team all the time.

      Virtual sports results are created using complicated algorithms that produce real results. These algorithms have to be inspected by independent certification companies as a legal requirement before being released at licensed casinos.

      One thing to consider – there is no need for online wagering software companies to ‘fix’ virtual sports games as, as long as they mirror realistic sporting contests, the ‘casino’ will always maintain an advantage.

    • Why are not all sports covered by virtual sports?

      Firstly, only really team sports are best covered by virtual sports, and racing be it horses, greyhounds or motor vehicles. There are also some individual sports covered, such as tennis and less frequently, golf.

      Events that take a long time but cannot be condensed are unsuitable too which rules out cricket, baseball, snooker, pool and darts.

      Also, it pays virtual sports software companies to invest in the most popular sports, which rules out slightly niche sports such as volleyball, handball, badminton and squash.

    • Can I ‘cash out’ when using virtual sports as I can at real sports betting sites?

      Currently, we know of no virtual sports games where cashing out is available. It’s not likely that cash out will ever be available with virtual sports as the events themselves are not ‘live’ – they only appear to be. The result of an event is already known before the video is displayed, so in effect, you are watching highlights as opposed to the event unfolding in real-time.

    • Who are the best virtual sports teams?

      This is not really a question that can be answered as all virtual sports teams are purely fictitious. Some virtual sports teams are virtual versions of real teams so they will mirror the current strength of that team which can be an aid to placing your bets.

    • Are any virtual sports actually based on video games?

      We know only of one – Madden20. Madden20 is the most famous example of an American Football video game. There is one sportsbook that allows you to bet on the outcome of Madden20 matches but the games are run purely by a CPU and not gamers. There is no human involvement.

    • Can I play virtual sports?

      We are not sure what you mean by that. Virtual sports are virtual simulations of real sporting contests and competitions that people are able to place wagers upon. They cannot be ‘played’. We think you may be referring to video games. If you are, then perhaps you would care to take a look at our eSports section?

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