Betting On Virtual Motorsports
Virtual motorsport races are drawing a lot of attention from sportsbooks and their players.
For those in the sports betting world, the cancellation of major sports has left us with few wagering options. But while fans of basketball, baseball, or hockey are patiently waiting to see their favorite players return to action, motor racing bettors don't have to wait at all.
Competitive motor racing barely missed a beat when COVID-19 shut down sports worldwide, thanks to the realism of virtual racing simulators. These programs are used regularly by drivers to keep their skills sharp without the high cost of real track practice. Therefore, many of the top racers in the world entered eSports tournaments just days after real-world events were canceled.
The first of these events were held in March and became so popular that sportsbooks began to take notice and offer odds.
This is an excellent opportunity for any bookmaker to use the momentum of this sport to fill the gaps left in the absence of most leagues.
The success of these events just goes to show how far the realism of simulation racing has come in the eSports era.
With professionals now involved, along with the sanctioning bodies of F1, NASCAR & IndyCar, sim racing has been put into the spotlight.
Make no mistake; the age of competitive virtual motorsports is upon us.
With that in mind, let's explore the big three leagues going on right now that you can bet on.
eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series
The NASCAR season was put on hiatus after just four races, but a new form of the sport is experiencing an explosion in popularity. The NASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational was created to pick up where the Cup Series left off and use the iRacing platform to finish the season.
Taking place each Sunday, this series pits NASCAR drivers and dignitaries against one another on a virtual track. Names such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, and Kyle Bush are a big reason for the early success.
The iRacing platform makes the action feel as genuine as possible and is used for training on off days. Denny Hamlin suggested that around half of the people who work for or with NASCAR already have home setups, including wheels and pedals in their homes. This allowed for a quick transition for many races from the real to the digital world.
The success of this new form of competition has been undeniable. The races run so far have been watched by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide to rave reviews.
The odds are available now for upcoming races at Dover and Martindale speedways. William Byron is 3/1 favorite to win both after taking the checkered flag in the last two races and Top-8 finishes in the other two. Timmy Hill is also a guy to keep an eye on. Hill has finished in the Top-3 in all but one race this year and is 15/2 heading into Dover.
INDYCAR iRacing Challenge
iRacing has also teamed up with INDYCAR to host a virtual racing series while real races are on hold. The competitors are a mix of NTT INDYCAR Series drivers, along with some special invitees such as F1 racer Lando Norris.
Norris was a special guest driver for Arrow McLaren for last week's race at the Circuit of the Americas. The 20-year-old dominated the field in fact as he beat out the other 33 drivers on the virtual road course in Texas. Norris had more than 20,000 viewers watching his Twitch stream alone.
The races last around 70 minutes and are broadcasted live on NBCSN with live commentary just like a day at the track would have. There is even a pre-race show featuring a national anthem presentation and more.
The list of drivers includes seven Indianapolis 500 winners and features names like Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Simon Pagenaud.
F1 eSports Virtual Grand Prix Series
With the real-world Formula 1 series postponed, the F1 eSports Virtual GP series has stepped into the spotlight. Professional drivers, retired legends, full-time gamers, and celebrities go head to head in events that mirror the real-life series. This gives bettors a chance to continue watching and wagering on competitive racing on weekends.
The major difference with the F1 Virtual Series is the platform that is utilized. Formula One has its own branded title developed by Codemasters. While not as realistic as the iRacing software, it is still a popular alternative for fans to watch.
It must also be mentioned that this series is not a part of the competitive eSports series that is also currently active. This series is more of an exhibition event and features racers of varying driving and gaming talent.
Races are 28 laps or less and follow qualifying to determine the starting positions for each race.
The first race saw participants ranging from current F1 drivers Nicholas Latifi and Lando Norris, reserve talent Stoffel Vandoorne and Esteban Gutierrez, and legend Nico Hülkenburg. Formula 2 racers, Academy drivers, and pros from other series filled out the starting grid.
Odds for these events have been popular betting options over the last few weeks. Heading into the next event, Team Renault is favorites to win a 4/1 with McLaren (5/1) and Mercedes (6/1), taking the next two spots on the odds board. The latter is an interesting play at those odds considering Guiterrez and Vandoorne are both F1 test drivers and gamers, making Mercedes a strong contender.
These are just three of the major series going on right now, but IMSA, Porche, and the WRC all have eSports events running on a weekly basis. These series will continue to run and provide betting options even when real-world racing returns to action.
This is the perfect time for the sports betting industry to embrace not only eSports but the competitive virtual racing scene.
PayPerHead® agents can stand to benefit massively from this emerging sport. Especially during these trying times, having a weekly event for fans to bet on is a powerful thing. Any time you can get your clients interested in new events is time well spent.
If your pay per head service provider does not include eSports on their list of odds, then it might be time to find a better option. At PayPerHead®, we pride ourselves on offering odds on a slew of virtual and simulation sports to keep your players busy while we await the return of major sports nationwide.
If you are ready to switch providers to a company that offers a better variety of odd, then head over to the PayPerHead® and see what offers we have for new clients today!