On Saturday April 4th, record numbers of UK viewers tuned into the Virtual Grand National, with bookmakers donating millions to help the COVID-19 fight. Analysts suggest these high numbers are likely due to the cancellation of other sporting events, including the hugely popular Grand National horserace which was due to start on 2nd April 2020. Although viewers and bookmakers alike were disappointed by the cancellation of this event, the Virtual Grand National brought the nation together in support of NHS charities and offered great escapism for those stressed by the recent pandemic.
Using Sports Betting to Benefit the NHS
Of course, sportsbooks will be relieved to know there are alternatives to real-life sports betting, but this particular race went further than lining the pockets of sportsbooks, with over £2.6 million to be donated to charities working to help the NHS during this pandemic. The same spokesperson for Coral mentioned earlier also stated that based on the amazing work being undertaken by the NHS and our public support workers, “it’s entirely fitting that they are the real winners of this year’s Virtual Grand National.”
Sam, who is the spokesperson for Casinocaptain believes that same initiatives should be taken by more gambling operators: “Now is the time to give back, some parts of our industry might be suffering but the time has never been better to give back and show that we care.” We couldn’t agree more!
What is the Virtual Grand National?
As the real Grand National couldn’t go ahead, bookmakers brought the event online with a virtual horserace for viewers to enjoy and bet on. Using sophisticated algorithms, the Virtual Grand National calculates aspects such as the horses’ weight, weather conditions, age, form, and ground quality to predict the finishing positions and uses state-of-the-art 3D animations to bring the race to life. The Virtual Grand National has actually been running since 2017 and has accurately predicted the results of numerous hard-to-predict races in the past.
Virtual Sports Gain Popularity
The Grand National isn’t the first sport to gain popularity in recent years, with the rise of online casinos and sportsbooks making way for plenty of sports to appear in a virtual setting. With the current global restrictions influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re seeing record numbers of people stuck at home with sporting events cancelled until further notice. This cancellation of sporting events is predicted to cause a further rise in the popularity of virtual sports like these can be completed and viewed with zero risks of infection.
Virtual Sports Betting
As the popularity of virtual sports increases, so too does the number of bets placed on these games. This weekend’s Virtual Grand National was a great example with roughly half the amount of people due to watch the real Grand National logging in to enjoy the virtual experience. A spokesperson from Coral told the RacingPost the average stake on the Virtual Grand National was approximately £2 per bet and “really hit the spot […] providing a fun, one-off betting opportunity” that players throughout the UK were able to enjoy.
While these are trying times for so many of us, the rise in the technology and animation quality when it comes to virtual sports means similar activities are likely to gain plenty of traction over the coming weeks/months. Creating a Virtual Grand National gives viewers the chance to come together to enjoy a highly-anticipated event without risking spreading the disease. With some huge funds being raised to help the fight against COVID-19, it’s clear that sports betting can be used for good; bringing people together and raising money for our NHS.