The return of live sports will have a positive impact on virtual sports according to Martin Wachter – CEO and Founder of Golden Race – who predicted that it will result in increased traffic and exposure of virtual products.
According to Wachter, the pandemic has proven to the betting industry that virtual sports is not a ‘side product’ but instead is ‘a real option for bookmakers’ to continue engaging with bettors.
He explained: “Virtual sports is the only side product that doesn’t have to be afraid when sports betting comes back. In fact, sports betting coming back will bring only positive effects, as there will be more traffic and people on the website. When there weren’t real sports, some people looked for virtual sports, but many people didn’t enter the websites at all.
“Virtual sports will benefit when sports betting is back, as more people in the websites will find a very similar product as an additional tool next to sports betting.”
With a mostly global hiatus of live sport during the pandemic, operators have turned towards virtual products to deliver betting markets for punters missing the live events.
The Golden Race CEO pointed out that the last few months have seen increased interest in online and virtual sports, with the sale of online tickets having increased by 74% in March, with that number doubling in April.
It’s not just the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought about the popularity of virtual sports, however, as Wachter pointed out that Golden Race products have been on a growth trend – albeit one accelerated by the crisis – for more than seven years.
The pandemic has acted as a ‘wake up call’ for betting operators to see that virtual sports is not just a ‘short-term option’, explained Wachter: “In my opinion this situation has been a wake-up call for sports bookmakers to embrace virtual sports and we may see some changes in our industry from now on. But there is plenty of evidence that virtual sports have been successful and have helped businesses to grow in the past.
“Back in 2004, when I was starting with virtual sports in Germany, operators were happy to include Virtual sports as a way to add traffic to their sportsbook in the betting shops, especially during complicated months when real sports betting was down because of high payouts or other issues. Currently, virtual sports provide the same amount of traffic (or even more) than sports betting in many countries.
“Of course, the more diversified your product is, the better prepared you will be to survive no matter what happens.”