Online virtual betting is the latest product to debut in New Jersey’s regulated online gambling market, although what kind of reception the product will receive remains to be seen.
On Wednesday, Rush Street Interactive launched online and mobile virtual sports and racing via its New Jersey online gambling site, PlaySugarHouse.com. The product was designed by Inspired Gaming, which has carved out a lucrative niche supplying virtual sports to both land-based and online bookmakers across Europe.
Late last year, Inspired received approval to operate virtual sports terminals in Nevada but the New Jersey launch represents the first time the product has been made available online in the United States. Two other New Jersey online operators, Resorts Digital Gaming and the Golden Nugget, have plans to launch similar products in the near future.
Even in European markets where actual sports betting is permitted, virtual sports betting has proven popular, particularly in the UK and Italy. The latter market’s retail betting shops reported virtual sports betting turnover of nearly €1.2b through the first 10 months of 2017, compared to slightly more than €3.5b in ‘real’ sports wagers.
Bookmakers love virtual sports, as it gives punters something to wager on in real time during the lulls between real-world games or races. But serious bettors have traditionally sneered at the product, in part because of the inherent randomness of the outcomes of these virtual matchups.
Like online slots or other digital casino products, virtual sports’ outcomes are determined by a random number generator, and while bettors are provided with pseudo-historical data on the humans, horses or dogs involved in the pretend contests, it’s not quite the same as Jimmy the Greek beating the bushes to determine whether a college football quarterback’s fiancée secretly dumped him the night before the big game.
That said, most of the graphics are top notch, and if you’re a true degenerate who just can’t wait until Sunday or simply an impatient millennial who wants something NOW, DAMMIT, virtual sports are just the ticket.