ATP Tour Unveils Virtual Tennis Product to Fill Live Sports Bet Void

Posted on: March 31, 2020, 10:42h. 

Last updated on: March 31, 2020, 11:01h.

Could simulated virtual tennis matches fill the current sports betting void being experienced around the world? Sports data firm IMG Arena and the ATP Tour are betting on just that.

virtual tennis sports betting
With sports canceled and postponed, the sports betting industry is turning to simulated events such as virtual tennis. (Image: IMG Arena)

This week, IMG Arena announced its virtual tennis product will debut sometime next month. The simulated game will feature logos and official tournament names from the ATP Masters 1000 series to deliver what’s touted as “an authentic, fan-first experience.”

Once live, sportsbooks will be able to utilize the turnkey third-party platform by integrating the product into its online network. Gamblers will be able to wager on various odds, including in-match propositions.

“The result is a game-changing product that maximizes player engagement and operator returns,” claimed IMG Arena Managing Director Freddie Longe. “As with all of our virtual sports offerings, we have developed the most realistic look, feel, and betting experience.”

IMG says it contracted Leap Gaming to develop the virtual tennis software.

US Legality

The IMG/ATP Tour betting product will only be available in markets where gambling on virtual sports is legal. That means US bettors might not find the games available on their mobile sportsbooks anytime soon.

Gaming regulators in the US where sports betting is legal have largely followed Nevada’s lead in mandating that only sporting events that are conducted live and regulated by a governing body – the NFL, for example – are permissible.

Nevada Regulation 22.1201 of the “Race Books and Sports Pools” code says, “A virtual event shall not be approved … unless an approved gaming device is used to determine the outcome(s) and to display an accurate representation of the outcome(s) of the virtual event.”

The law also requires that the virtual game be distributed live to sportsbooks. Nevada defines a “virtual event” as one “where the outcome is generated by an electronic device.”

Virtual Games

The ATP Tour virtual tennis product isn’t the only one in the works from IMG Arena. The company’s virtual portfolio includes golf, motorsports, football, horse racing, greyhound racing, and cycling.

Sportradar, another sports betting information distributor, is also in on the virtual gambling game. The company has reached agreements with MLB, FIFA, and UEFA to deliver fans virtual betting platforms.

Sportradar’s Virtual Gaming Solutions has been around for a decade. The company claims more than 180 bookmakers worldwide offer its virtual games, which currently consists of virtual basketball, tennis, soccer, and horse and dog racing.

Sports leagues have shuttered their games and events in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Presently, only table tennis and soccer are being played in Russia and Ukraine. Online oddsmakers have turned to such offbeat props as weather predictions, stock market futures, and reality television outcomes.

The Tokyo Olympics have been rescheduled for July 2021, and ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit said last week that he wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see American football played in 2020.