The global COVID-19 pandemic has taught the world a lot of things, not the least of which is the fact that it is completely possible to gamble online. It has also shown that there is the potential need for more virtual offerings, even in the sports world. 2020 brought a rise in virtual sports as live competitions were forced to remain in the lockers, and there exists the possibility that, for a number of reasons, virtual sports might eventually become more popular than live events.
It may seem a little far-fetched, watching virtual football teams go at each other, but it is something that has to be considered. There was a time when virtual gambling would have seemed unrealistic, when email would never take off and when streaming movie and video game services were nothing more than a passing fad. They are now completely normal and are proving to be more popular than other alternatives.
It’s conceivable that the same could happen with sports, and Giuseppe Donato, Kiron Interactive’s country manager in Italy, sees a bright future for virtual sports. During the SBC Digital – Italy segment from yesterday, he asserted, “Virtual sports offer a replica of real sports delivered in a condensed format. Events are configurable and scheduled at a high frequency ensuring gameplay at all times. Virtual sports use the latest CGI technology and a proprietary physics engine to capture the vitality of their real sport counterparts and deliver entertaining and visually appealing content to your customers.”
The virtual sports movement has already begun and a number of markets are now open around the world. These can be found in Italy, Spain, the U.K., Russia, the U.S., Australia, Colombia, Brazil and many more. Donato has witnessed a substantial amount of interest in his own backyard, especially when live action is called off, and asserts that Italy is “one of the largest virtual sports markets globally.” To drive his point home, he points out that Kiron, the first to bring gambling to the virtual sports realm in 2015, is part of an industry segment that is generating revenue of over €1.6 billion ($1.93 billion) each year in Italy alone. He adds that the global segment is worth as much as €12 billion ($14.48 billion) and is growing incrementally 0.5% each year.
Donato adds, specifically about virtual sports gambling, “The rise of this alternative has created a domino effect not only on opening access to new markets but also on customer preferences, such as the ease of online gaming. The viability of the vehicle offering as an alternative to real life events in particular in difficult times, was demonstrated last year. However, there is so much more than this, with multiple virtual sports on offer to customers as an alternative to the real thing. Most suppliers now have high quality football, basketball and motor racing as well as racket sports to meet the needs of sports fans across the world.”
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