Let’s make this clear from the outset – few things can compare to the excitement and atmosphere of a classic day out at the races. By visiting a major racecourse like Cheltenham, spectators get to enjoy the best of what horse racing has to offer, from the roar of the crowd to the genuine thrill of a win.
However, what if you’re unable to attend the next big race day or want some similar excitement between trips to your local venue? One option might be to go virtual.
More people than ever are watching eSports based around the football simulation game FIFA. At the start of November, SportsProMedia.com reported that the FIFA 21 Challenge organised by EA Sports was the publisher’s most-watched eSports broadcast in history. It achieved a total watch time of more than one million hours.
With this in mind, it is perhaps not a huge surprise that virtual horse racing has been attracting plenty of attention in recent times. As BestBettingSites.com explains in its guide to the issue, the area has really taken off with several providers now specialising in the area. The site adds that virtual horse racing is thought to account for around 25 per cent of all horse racing bets at top brands, with major improvements being seen in the graphics and overall look of such experiences.
Pros and cons
But, while interest in the concept is clearly rising, how does the experience of following the action of virtual horse racing ultimately compare to the real thing?
One thing that BestBettingSites.com highlights is how time is definitely on the side of those who embrace the concept. After all, virtual races are held every few minutes throughout the day, which means people can place bets whenever it suits them. The site adds that there are no issues like judge’s decisions to consider, while unbiased results are produced thanks to a random number generator.
Such elements might make virtual horse racing attractive to those with little specialist knowledge of racing, but the flip side is that it may not offer the same experience as the real world. For instance, with real racing, you can aim to make an informed decision by studying form and keeping tabs on recent results. Plenty of media outlets dedicate time to this, with The Racing Forum looking at such issues for us and TheGuardian.com featuring its Talking Horses section. As the results of virtual racing are random, there is no way to take form into account.
Once upon a time, the idea of getting heavily invested in the action of a simulated sporting event might have seemed strange, but things have definitely changed on that front. All in all, it could be argued that while virtual horse racing has gone from strength to strength in recent years, it still differs from the real thing.
There are pros and cons to both forms of racing, and it will be intriguing to see how the virtual experience develops further in the years ahead.