Aristocrat Gaming has tapped long-time partner Inspired Gaming to develop its NFL-branded virtual sports games. The virtual football titles will feature team logos and other NFL intellectual property, such as the Super Bowl, league conferences, and more.
Virtual sports provide a betting experience similar to online sportsbooks, but the outcome is determined by chance rather than a real-world sporting event. Inspired’s virtual NFL games will include multiple betting options such as moneyline wagers, game totals (over/under), and prop bets.
Aristocrat’s NFL virtual sports will be part of the company’s multi-year, global licensing deal with the NFL. Aristocrat has already announced NFL-themed retail slots, which are expected to debut by the start of the 2023 NFL season.
Inspired Gaming Is A Leader In Virtual Sports
The relationship between the two companies goes back to 2020. That original deal allowed Inspired to offer Aristocrat game content on video lottery terminals in certain European markets.
Even without that existing partnership, Aristocrat’s choice to work with Inspired for virtual sports would be logical. It is the world’s most prominent virtual sports developer, with over 20 years of experience, operating in 35 countries worldwide. It’s also the primary provider of such games in the US.
The NFL also benefits by bringing its brand to the virtual sports space. The deal could help the league reach new audiences and increase its popularity in emerging markets, especially Europe.
What Are Virtual Sports?
Virtual sports are online simulations based on real-world sports. They’re not to be confused with video games or esports, like the popular Madden series of football games.
One significant difference is no human is controlling the players in a virtual sports match. Unlike esports, the results of the games are random and not dependent on players’ abilities.
Virtual sports based on real-world leagues use statistical data to determine the odds. For example, in virtual horse racing, the developer bases horses’ odds on historical race performance, so a horse that is faster in the real world has lower in-game odds and a higher chance of winning.
How Are Virtual Sports Different Than Sports Betting?
In other words, the experience resembles sports betting on the front end. However, they’re mathematically more like a casino game, and there’s no skill involved in picking winners.
Virtual sports sometimes appear alongside conventional betting lines at sportsbooks in some jurisdictions, but they’re purely a game of chance. That’s because virtual sports use a random number generator (RNG), similar to other online games like slots and table games like blackjack. The RNG ensures all results are random and fair. Unlike sports betting, virtual sports have a fixed return-to-player (RTP), meaning every bettor’s odds and statistical losses will be the same over the long term.
Virtual sports matches aren’t tied to real-world events. They may or may not use real-world players and teams, depending on whether there’s a branding deal in place, such as the one between Aristocrat and the NFL.
The main advantage of virtual sports is convenience, as games are available 24/7. The supplier sets the duration of games and the betting intervals between them. Matches typically start every few minutes and are significantly shorter than real-world equivalents.
For players in a rush, there’s even the option to skip watching and receive the match results immediately.
Where Can You Play Virtual Sports In The US?
While virtual sports are trendy in Europe, they’re only available in two states at the moment: New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
In Pennsylvania, players can play virtual sports through the state lottery. The games are called Xpress Sports, and the options are horse racing and motorsports. Inspired also supplies these games, but they’re only available through retail terminals, with no online option.
Meanwhile, you can play Inspired virtual sports at New Jersey online casinos. Because the games use an RNG, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement considers them a casino game, not a sports betting product. Players can find these games on most major sites. Available sports include:
- Horse Racing
- Motor Racing
- Dog Racing
- Marble Racing
While there’s already a football version, the NFL branding should attract more attention, especially in the off-season.
Some other states will see virtual sports appear shortly. Michigan and Oregon have approved the games through their lotteries. Meanwhile, Nevada has elected to allow the state’s sportsbooks to take bets on simulated matches. All three stats have yet to launch, but the ability to offer games with real NFL teams may provide an incentive to hasten the process.
A focus on the NFL partnership, including virtual sports, may be key to Aristocrat’s US plans. The company recently struck deals with BetMGM and Caesars, which are among the companies offering virtual sports in New Jersey. Offering NFL-themed slots and virtual sports could appeal to more online casinos seeking to diversify their game selection.