Virtual cycling is unusual in that, while other ‘sports’ in this sphere such as horse racing and football are already popular betting events in the real world, wagering on cycling is not something that is generally done.
Mind you, that’s not to say the virtual cycling offering isn’t entertaining and if all virtual sports are to be decided by random number generators, which they are, we may as well try a host of different ones. In that sense, virtual cycling offers fans of other sports a welcome break as well as providing genuine cycling enthusiasts a way to bet on their preferred sport for once, sort of!
How Virtual Cycling Betting Works
For most of us, cycling as a sport conjures up images either of the busy peloton of the Tour de France or the indoor track cycling shown once every four years at the Summer Olympics.
The irregularity of these events is why cycling hasn’t taken off as a betting sport, but using the latter type as its focus the virtual betting industry has jumped onto cycling with the speed and ease of each race making these events ever more popular.
Essentially then, punters can place bets on virtual cycling races which are computer-generated versions of real track events. Fictional riders race around several laps of a track with the result of the race decided by a random number generator, meaning the result is always fair and all bettors on each website are seeing the same race.
When each race is run, results are displayed and are winnings paid out immediately before the screen flips to the runners for the next event with their odds, which do not change no matter how many people are betting, shown to their right.
Virtual Cycling – What You Can Bet On
Given the makeup of cycling, especially virtual cycling, there aren’t many betting options on the table but that can be seen as a good thing in what is a fast-moving betting medium.
What you can and can’t bet on will always depend on your bookmaker, BetFred for example only offering prices on the race winner whereas others such as bet365 will offer forecasts and tricasts too. Here’s what to expect across a range of betting sites:
- Win Market – anywhere between 6 and 9 riders can be priced up, meaning not every race offers the same winning chance or the same betting margin. You can back your selection to win or be placed, usually at 1/5 odds, with a typical favourite being priced up at between 9/4 and 3/1.
- Forecast & Tricast – you can back two or three selections in either a straight forecast/tricast or a reverse. You’ll be able to see how much your bet is worth, as the odds for the riders will not change.
- Top 2 Finish – if forecasts or each-way bets aren’t your thing, some bookies offer odds on your rider simply finishing in the first two.
Pace, Frequency and Visual Aspect
Virtual cycling produces a race every three minutes on each bookmaking platform, races lasting for three laps around the track taking around 45 seconds each. As the events run around the clock, this means one bookmaker can offer up to 480 races in a day and all can be bet on.
Given how simple the real-life sport is to watch and understand, the visual version is pretty realistic. Racing around a canted indoor track, 6-9 virtual riders take part and all are easy to spot via their helmet colour, although their race position will be constantly updated.
As this is a fast-moving sport with each event taking place over a matter of seconds, there is no focus on the crowd or other details (although they’re done pretty well). Along with the commentary which helps things along, the overall feel of virtual cycling is pretty realistic.
Are Virtual Cycling Bets Fair?
All virtual sports, including cycling, have their events decided by a random number generator. Somehow there is still a stigma with a rather cynical bunch believing that bookmakers can and do alter the outcome of such events to suit themselves, however this is not true.
All random number generators and their effects are checked by a third party and regulated by the Gambling Commission, so any online slot games or virtual sports you play on via a fully licenced bookmaker in the UK are legitimate.
With this in mind, you can be assured that you are placing fair bets along with everyone else on the platform, but also that the outcome of such ‘sports’ as virtual cycling are more akin to casino games than actual sport, as the result is decided by computer algorithms and cannot be altered.
In terms of value for money, it’s not all good news to be honest. The betting margins on virtual sports are bigger than on normal sports partly due to the fact that there is no fluidity in the markets and the bookmaker has to pay for the software in the first place.
Thinking of it in the same sense as a casino or slot game, the RTP (return to player) runs at around 90% which is also some way short of a typical online game meaning whichever way you look at it, there are better options out there.
When there is a lack of live sport however and you’re craving your fix, you’ll get a fair crack of the whip with virtual cycling as all punters are in the same boat.
Virtual Cycling’s Pros and Cons
While during the admittedly rare televised international cycling events those who know plenty about the sport can get a betting advantage, for most of us the virtual version levels the playing field entirely. Here are the highlights and lowlights:
- It’s Fast and Frequent – there are thousands of races per day across various betting platforms, so you’ll never be without a chance to bet.
- Markets are Changeable – as there aren’t always the same number of riders in each race, the markets aren’t so stagnant and boring. This positively affects not only the win market, but also the forecast and tricast markets.
- It’s Simple – you don’t need any advance knowledge of cycling to take part, just pick the rider you want to back and hit ‘bet’.
- Lack of Control – those who know their sport, especially cycling, will want to use their own knowledge and skill to pick winners and that’s something that is not possible with the virtual version.
- There’s Increased Temptation to Bet – the lack of control can spill over into temptation. As we cannot affect results, it can be easy to either try to supplement winners or chase losses by continuing to bet every three minutes, something that can spiral in no time.
- Low Returns – at around 90% RTP you won’t lose all of your money if you bet sensibly, however this is considerably less than the 95-98% RTP given on a lot of slot games which make them the better option.