Virtual products – reaching new audiences in North America

Virtual products – reaching new audiences in North America

Following on from our recent article which explored the growth in regulated sports betting across the USA, let’s look at how virtual products could bridge the gap to reach new digital audiences.

According to a recent independent report by Global Betting and Gaming Consultants, globally, virtual betting could account for between 4% and 5% of the market by 2025, suggesting a gross win of US$3.89billion.

What are the market drivers?

With the reduction in live sport and likewise live racing venues throughout 2020, the industry has looked to accelerate its digital content distribution with the rapid launch of virtual products.

Recent successes of high-profile virtual horse racing events include the UK Virtual Grand National of 2020 which replaced the live event and was watched by an audience of more than 4 million viewers, while also raising GB£2.6million for the NHS Charities Together. The virtual Grand National was such a success, that this year ITV shall be broadcasting the Grand National Race of Champions virtual race again this year on Friday April 9th at 8pm on ITV4, and again at 1pm ahead of the real race on Saturday April 10th. The virtual format was quickly followed in the US last year with the virtual Kentucky Derby which featured 13 Triple Crown winners from the past century competing in the virtual Derby and drew an audience of some 1.7million viewers. There is no doubt these high-profile virtual racing events broaden the appeal to existing consumers, but it also opens the sport of kings to a younger, always on, digital-first base.

 

It is not just horse racing that is going virtual

In August 2018, The Pennsylvania Lottery launched Xpress Sports, a virtual American Football and Stock Car Racing games every 2 to 3 minutes. The lottery reported Xpress Sports sales of US$2.2million in 2018/2019, rising by 194% in 2019/2020 to US$6.5million, further demonstrates the rising nascent demand for virtual products, across a broad spectrum of consumer audiences.

Sports betting operators continue to be expansive in the virtual product arena with the principal market leaders, such as DraftKings, FanDuel, GVC US engaging the Oregon Lottery throughout last year for virtual betting events. It is likely that these market forces will continue as more US regulated operators seek to use virtual events in free-to-play social sports prediction game, and thus expand the virtual product category from niche to mass-market adoption.

Virtual demand

With the continued growth and adoption of console and computer games among a younger generation throughout North America it is likely that real world sports will be surpassed in popularity by virtual games with this younger digital first generation.

The Virtual Live Racing technology stack, with its state-of-the-art CGI, delivers immersive graphics and provides digital enablement of a racetracks data content stream, to launch and deliver market-ready regulated pari-mutel wagering based virtual products, within a short timeframe.

We already have products live at Parx, Pennsylvania; Hawthorne, Illinois; and Florida tracks Derby LaneTampa Bay Downs and Palm Beach Kennel Club – and in a few weeks’ time we will launch our harness racing product (with our partners US Off-Track) for Saratoga Race Course in New York.

If you represent a racetrack interested in developing a virtually based gaming experience, that can be used as a bridge and a means of infotainment to engage a digital first consumer in the ‘sport of kings’, reach out today.

View some of our racetrack showreels here

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