EGR Big Debate
The global sports shutdown has seen online sportsbook operators look to diﬀerent products to ensure they oﬀer something to ﬁll the gap.
This has seen many turn to virtual sports as they provide something similar to live-action sports betting while teams and players sit on the sidelines for the foreseeable future. But I believe operators are being disingenuous if they believe that sports bettors will wager on virtual sports simply because they have a desire to bet on something.
There are many factors to this, but perhaps the most signiﬁcant is because virtuals fail to tap into the psyche or touch the heart of punters in the same way that live-action sport does.
Betting is ultimately an intellectual or emotional activity – you either bet based on knowledge and strategy, or you bet because you are passionate about a team or a player.
For example, an emotionally-led bettor may wager on Lewis Hamilton to win the Silverstone Grand Prix because they are a Hamilton super fan. They will make this bet even if Hamilton is starting from the back of the grid.
An intellectual bettor may bet on Max Verstappen to win the same race because they have followed his form and know
Silverstone is a track (due to the high cornering speeds) where he excels.
It is unlikely that either type of bettor will switch to virtuals because they are unlikely to meet their intellectual or emotional needs when wagering.
Of course, there will be some bettors that do switch to virtuals while live action sports are oﬀ the calendar, but I don’t believe they will do so en masse.
Instead, I think operators would be wise to focus on adding more skill-based games to their portfolios. Poker in par-ticular is enjoying a surge in popularity.
Why? Because it combines skill and gambling, appeals to both intellectual and emotional players, and provides the same sense of community that comes with sports.