Stian Hornsletten in GI Friday: Virtuals During Sports Shutdown

Stian Hornsletten, Group Chief Commercial Officer for EveryMatrix explains why virtual sports are of interest in the current crisis.

A UNIQUE VALUE PROPOSITION

Positioned at the intersection of sports and casino, virtual sports present both players and operators with a unique proposition. It’s a gaming category with its own complex environment. Through stunning

yet realistically designed graphics, as well as an enormous amount of sports choices, I think virtual sports reach the peak of instant gratification.

Similar to casino games, they provide easy access to around-the-clock content, which translates into an unlimited number of bets that can be placed by punters. By eliminating waiting times associated with real-life sports, operators have the rare opportunity to bring more excitement to fans left with limited betting options during the COVID-19 crisis.

Since virtual sports aren’t subject to adverse natural phenomena, travel disruptions or pandemic restrictions, they are a great alternative to sports events and a safe refuge for both operators and players. As well as keeping bettors engaged in the absence of real-life content, they provide the familiar environment of real sports, through remarkable graphics that create an immersive experience.

Currently, we are experiencing a 52% increase in the number of virtual sports players. And in the last five weeks, figures have shown triple-digit increases in rounds and placed bets, with week-over-week records. The numbers clearly show there is huge potential in this niche and, for operators looking for alternatives, virtuals are the place to start.

COMPLEMENTARY REVENUE STREAM

At the start of the pandemic, there was a 75-80% drop in sports revenues within one week, affecting operators of all sizes, with no exceptions. Keeping retention rates high is essential for securing financial survival during these difficult times. Diversification of the current offering is key here, and by including virtual sports in the mix, operators can build from scratch a new revenue stream, which can help in the next six months.

While at this point, with real sports missing from the picture and virtual sports receiving a front-row seat (and plenty of attention within the industry), we should first consider how exactly they enhance the player experience.

Virtual sports is not a betting vertical meant to replace real sports betting, but rather a complementary offering that, if used smartly, brings in more revenue. While bettors must wait the typical match times – for example, around two hours for a football game – a virtual match offers immediate satisfaction.

There is solid potential for virtual sports in the long run, which comes mostly through eliminating tedious waiting times, access to a wider variety of sports and an inherent attractiveness for younger generations.

ATTRACTING NEW AUDIENCES

One clear target audience is millennials, who are passionate consumers of novel experiences in the online gaming realm. Exciting virtual sports content can draw them in, as well as an outstanding player experience enhanced through mobile-friendly technology, superb graphics and richer digital interactions.

These factors are all key to retaining a large share of them. For many sports punters who try out virtual sports betting during this time, we can say the same thing: a seamless experience will grow the appetite for such content for many of them.

Realistically speaking, we can’t expect virtual sports to replace everything else available on the market. But if operators move fast to implement high-quality and flexible integrations, with access to vast content, there is a significant chance to see virtual sports growing into a steady revenue source.

If companies play their cards right, what is now a patching solution will become a solid advantage when the current situation is over. Check out GI Friday’s full feature to get more insights from more industry executives on the potential of virtual sports.

Check out GI Friday’s full feature to get more insights from more industry executives on the potential of virtual sports.

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