In the United States, New Jersey has been the only state to implement and allow betting on virtual sports. As states scour to find ways to make up for lost revenue after the coronavirus pandemic, Oregon lawmakers are hoping to persuade the Oregon State Lottery Commission to approve virtual sports betting this year.

The Oregon Lottery manages the state’s sports betting industry. The motion was introduced last week and was issued as a temporary administrative order.

It is now set for review at another meeting on June 26. It’s possible that the commission will approve virtual sports betting on that same day.

The Lottery currently provides an online sports betting platform for professional sports only through their mobile app, Scoreboard. Because sports have taken a pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, Scoreboard has seen a severe decline in usage.

The Lottery fears that without implementing virtual sports betting, users will become disinterested as it is still unclear when the sports industry will return to “normal.”

Because the Lottery issued the need for virtual sports betting as a temporary administrative order, lawmakers do not need to get a new bill passed. This order allows virtual sports betting to be implemented without any formal changes as quickly as possible.

The Lottery and their partners, SBTech, claim the temporary rules are necessary because of how long permanent legislation would take. They want to add virtual sports betting to Scoreboard within the next few months to increase user engagement.

Are virtual sports the same as esports?

Unlike esports or skill-based games, virtual sports competitions are played by the game itself. They are completely simulated and utilize random number generators and embedded historical data to create an infinite amount of scenarios.

Esports or other skill-based virtual games require a person to actually sit down and play the game. The only participatory element of virtual sports is the ability to bet on the outcome.

Much like in real life, the statistically better team does not always win the competition. The data within the game creates unique players and scenarios, calculates the odds, and then introduces the number generator.

A trait specific to virtual sport is the frequency of events. Considering the fact that they are simulated games, virtual sports contests take place on a 24/7 basis.

The U.K. betting market has done especially well after adding virtual sports because users have access at all times.

Times of COVID-19 have proven how much society relies on sports for entertainment. Virtual sports serves as a solution when no real-world events are taking place.

The user also has the ability to program contests to run as often as they please. This is an alternative to actually watching the competition play out.

New Jersey is the only state to have introduced virtual sports to its betting market. Its two main categories include racing and team sports, such as basketball and soccer.

Racing has been the most popular virtual sport, ranging from horse and greyhound racing to virtual speedway. Much of the data used to create these games is based on real-life players, but their names or likeness are not used.

Virtual sports has been successful in betting markets around the world, including in New Jersey. The movement is now gaining momentum as the country plans to recover from billions in budget deficit since March.

What’s Next?

Since Scoreboard first launched in the fall of 2019, Oregon’s app has failed to show a profit. The app lost $5.3 million within the first nine months and has continued losing profit amid the pandemic.

The Oregon State Lottery Commission hopes to have virtual sports approved on June 26 and implemented in the sports betting market within the coming months.