The idea of betting on virtual sports is a relatively new one, so even bettors of some experience may not know exactly what it’s all about. So, before we tackle its surge of popularity across the African continent, it will be helpful to define precisely what it entails. 

eSports involves human players competing against one another in video games, but virtual sports are essentially computer-generated and computer-simulated events based on real-life athletic events. However, these virtual versions of sports fixtures don’t take as long to play out as their real-world counterparts. For example, a virtual sports football match can be wrapped in just 90 seconds, a 10th of the 90 minutes an actual game lasts. 

Virtual sports bettors are not just limited to wagering on Football games. Popular options include Cricket, Dog Racing, Horse Racing, Motor Sports, and Tennis. eSports, however, are devoted to games that people play solely on their consoles or laptops like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, CS:GO™, Dota 2, League of Legends, and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege.

One of the most important aspects of virtual sports is that they also feature fixtures based on realistic odds. This makes wagering on them very similar to doing so on actual matches and games. However, their results are determined by Random Number Generator software rather than players’ efforts. 

This puts virtual sports in the same category as slots. But, instead of creating a single result for each round of play like is done for reel games, a range of outcomes is generated in virtual sports. Based on these, players receive realistic odds from the bookmaker offering the event. And they’re free to evaluate these and then place a bet in the same way they’d do when wagering on a real sports event

The Appeal of Betting on Virtual Sports

Why are more Nigerians electing to wager on virtual sports when the real thing exists and can be bet on? 

There are a number of reasons it’s appealing to so many people. The first is that results are determined so much sooner. For example, Football bettors receive their winnings in a mere 90 seconds if they’ve predicted the outcome correctly, rather than the hour and a half real-world game would take. So, bets can be placed more frequently. 

Then there’s the fact that virtual sports events are always starting, looping endlessly, so there’s never any waiting time required before the next one starts. You can place your bet at any time of night or day, no matter what time the mood strikes you. Simply log in to your account at the online bookmaker hosting these types of events and wager. You can also access the action from your laptop, smartphone, or tablet as you prefer. 

And the legal factor is another very important element. Nigerian law explicitly states that betting on games of skill is permitted but wagering on games of chance is not. Because there is the requirement of odds evaluation in place for virtual sports betting, it’s categorized as the former and is thus 100% legal. 

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Virtual sports betting being legal in Nigeria is one of the biggest predictors of its continuing to flourish in the future. It’s a brand-new style of real-money entertainment and the technologically adept youth love it. The market is consequently steadily increasing. Plus, the fact that we’re still so restricted by COVID-19 is another reason to assume its popularity will keep increasing. 

In 2020, COVID-19 disrupted sporting calendars worldwide. The UEFA Champions League. The 2020 Basketball Tournament. Vergil Ortiz Jr’s struggle to find an opponent in the Boxing ring. The postponement of the United Rugby Championship. Or even the outright cancellation of the 2020 World Athletics Indoor Championships. No sport was unaffected. And these brakes applied to wagering as much as they did to sports, laying out the red carpet for the opportunities presented by virtual sports. 

With no real end to the chaos, COVID-19 has caused and uncertainty around real-world sports starting up again, virtual sports may be our only option for a while. 

What the Future Holds

For virtual sports to truly come into its own, developers will need to start treating each country as the individual entity it is in terms of wagering preferences. Providers will then be tasked with adapting their specific offerings to the market as determined by these. Football is an obvious choice, given its enormous popularity in Nigeria and around the rest of the world, but a mix of other options will not go unappreciated, either.

When you consider that bettors getting the most enjoyment from virtual sports at the moment are part of the younger generation, it’s safe to assume that its future in Nigeria is assured. It’s likely that an increasing number of online bookmakers are going to start offering a widening array of virtual sports betting options. And increased demand will see game developers experimenting with more sports options. This makes the future of virtual sports an exciting development in Nigeria, Africa, and across the globe.

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