If you haven’t already come across the concept of virtual horse racing, you’ll be hearing about it soon enough. Technically speaking, gambling on fabricated horse races isn’t something you’d call new. Any kids of the 80s will shortly remember those relatively crude ‘Grand National’ machines in seaside arcades all over the country, where plastic horses on metal sticks raced from one end of a small green strip to the other.
These days, exactly the same concept has been taken to an entirely new level. It’s the same basic idea, only given the full 21st century treatment. Typically available in both bookies and casinos alike, the mechanical horse racing setup has instead been replaced with a cutting-edge computer system. One that combines advanced graphics with engaging commentary and (ideally) a verified random number generator, which ultimately determines the outcome.
All of which adds up to an extremely pretty and appealing picture. The question being – are virtual horses really worth a punt or two?
A Long-Lived Love Affair
In the UK in particular, horse racing has been no less than a religion of gamblers for thousands of years. In fact, the very first organised horse racing tournaments took place in Roman times, when invading Roman soldiers set up their own weird and wonderful events for the entertainment of the elite. Suffice to say therefore, the ‘sport of kings’ really is one of the oldest and most celebrated in the world.
Even today, UK racetracks like Goodwood, Aintree, and Ascot are not only world famous, but growing in popularity all the time. So it’s hardly surprising that gaming developers are increasingly turning their attention towards the kinds of betting sims that are already making waves worldwide. As mentioned before, the concept is anything but new, though the quality of what’s on offer right now really is quite remarkable.
How It Works
If you’ve had your eye on virtual horse betting but aren’t sure how it all works, it’s all surprisingly familiar to anyone with even rudimentary experience. In the vast majority of instances, you’ll first be presented with a blank race card, which will give you the opportunity to wager on the usual options – win, place, and perfecta (correctly guessing the first and second place horses). More often than not, there will be eight courses competing in the race, meaning a total of 72 different ways of betting.
You put your money on the line, hit the ‘Race’ button and watch the action unfold before your eyes. Depending on the quality of the machine, you could be looking at the kinds of visuals that are almost as good as the real thing.
In terms of your odds of winning, quality virtual horse racing machines use similar random number generator technology as other digital casino staples. The only difference being that they also need to factor odds into the equation, while at the same time throw out the occasional shock result. Technically speaking therefore, a horse with 2/1 odds on any given race represents the strongest possible shot at winning. But this doesn’t mean that the 100/1 underdog cannot and will not win.
The whole thing is engineered to be as realistic as possible, replicating the real-life experience through complex algorithmic calculations. But given the complexity of the whole thing, you can’t always count on every developer and provider to deliver the same realistic and fair gaming experience.
As is the case with all examples of casino gaming across the board, the importance of choosing wisely cannot be overstated. The thing is, it’s not as if you or any other punter can take a look behind the scenes and determine whether the RNG technology being used is fair. There’s no way of making it happen. Instead, you have to rely on the provider to do whatever it claims to be doing, which means taking a look at their track record and general reputation.
For the most part, choose a high-end virtual horse racing game delivered by a top-rated casino and you’re probably in safe hands. It’s still worth looking into a good few reviews and ratings beforehand, but most of the time you’re golden. By contrast, choose a completely random machine provided by a developer you’ve never heard of and you’ve no way of determining whether it exists only to steal your cash.
Always check out as many independent reviews and recommendations as possible, rather than those provided by the casino or developer itself.
One of the best things about virtual horse racing – not to mention virtual sports in general – is the fact that they are available on demand. Rather than waiting for events to take place the old-fashioned way, you have total control over when and how the races run their course…literally.Hence, it’s an incredibly convenient and accessible alternative to traditional horse racing.
However, some also argue that this represents the biggest potential danger associated with virtual horses. With traditional horse racing, you’re limited to at least a certain extent by the events taking place at the time. With virtual horse racing, you can start as many new races as you like as often as you like, betting as much as you like at any one time. Hence, the temptation to chase losses may be significantly greater.
In addition, not all virtual horse racing machines give punters the opportunity to check out the recent histories and win records of the horses. With national horseracing, there’s a strong element of research required in making savvy betting decisions. With virtual horse racing, punters often take a much more random and therefore riskier approach.
So once again, it’s a case of letting common sense be your guide and acknowledging the importance of responsible gaming. Virtual horse racing can be incredibly enjoyable and is quickly becoming a viable alternative to the real thing. Nevertheless, there will always be certain differences and potential downsides to take into account, in order to stay safe and avoid crossing the line in a negative sense.