About Virtual Racing

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Although real live racing events are scheduled 365 days a year, many fans and handicappers still can’t get enough of the action; they want track access 24/7. In response, “virtual racing” has been developed—simulated horse, dog and motor races that offer non-stop opportunities to watch and wager on one’s favourite sports through visual representations of computerised random number draws.

Take, for example, Digiturf.com, a South African-owned web site licensed for gambling in Kahnawake. Its cutting-edge horse racing program allows enthusiasts to purchase, train and race their own virtual horses in a real-time 3D racing environment. They compete against other internationally-owned horses for real money. Each horse costs $15 to buy, plus a $2 per month stable fee.

After running in a non-graded race, each horse becomes “graded” (Grade 1 or 2) according to its “genetic seeding” identified during training, race temperament during racing and the results of its first race. Handicapping at Digiturf.com resembles the real world of horse racing, including weight handicaps and penalties for prior race wins. Apart from winning purses, players may wager at odds on Win, Place, Each Way, Exacta, etc. for each race.

In much the same way, VirtualDogRacing.com offers an online greyhound racing game. It features Flat, Hurdle and Handicap racing at twenty-six of Britain’s favourite tracks, with their unique real-life distances displayed. Factors such as weight, height, pace, racing line, speed, stamina and energy are taken into account in setting odds.

Although many betting shop regulars describe such games as “animal roulette,” the margin for the bookmaker is at least 10%, making virtual racing a very attractive activity to offer. As a result, most major bookmakers have already introduced virtual racing as part of their online services.

Ladbrokes, for example, feature several racing games for both Real Play and Free Play. They include Virtual Dogs and Golden Jacket for greyhound racing and Virtual Horses, Raceclubs Virtual Owners and Golden Guineas for Thoroughbred horse racing. The graphics are rudimentary, rather like those seen in arcade games, but with the advantage of unrestricted access and the player controlling when the races start.

Meanwhile, bet365 has a Virtual Sports section on its bookmaking site for members only. It includes scheduled horseracing and greyhounds starting every six minutes, plus speedway and grand prix motor racing.

By comparison, the Virtual World section on William Hill Sports web site offers a new horse, greyhound or Indy car race every three minutes. The action is highly realistic, with a professional-sounding commentator describing every move from start to finish. Best of all, the races can be viewed for free without wagering until one feels comfortable with the format. Forecast, tricasts and each way betting are all available.

Not to be left out of the virtual racing craze, land-based casinos have been leaping in, too. Virtual horse racing debuted in Atlantic City in 2010, when Resorts Casino Hotel installed its slots-type Triple Towers Virtual Horse Racing. Players wager on touch-sensitive 23-inch monitors at individual betting stations. A central 57-inch large-format LCD screen displays the race action with dynamic camera angles, 3D technology, realistic sounds effects and race commentary.

Information such as horse history and handicap information is displayed before each race, too, of course. Players can wager on Win, Place or Show, Exacta and Quinella in $1 denominations with a minimum of $3 and a maximum of $50 in total bets. There is also a jackpot feature that randomly awards bonus prizes to winners.

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