Sports Betting Trends: Online Video Game Wagers

February 7th, 2011

Virgin Gaming and Electronic Arts (EA) have merged a partnership for online gambling with popular online video games such as Madden 11, NBA 2K11 and Halo.

President of Virgin Gaming, William Levy, reports “This is the biggest deal we’ve ever had.  We have entry fee-based tournaments.  We also have sponsored tournaments.  Let’s say there was a $10 entry fee tournament, you could click ‘enter now,’ agree to the terms and conditions and then we deduct the $10 from your account and put it towards the pot.”

This format, currently available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, is in process just as Levy describes.  There is a buy-in fee, similar to a poker tournament, which is deducted from a player’s account.  The winner takes the pot.  You can also find sponsored tournament action.  Recently, Virgin Gaming and Maxim Magazine held a Madden 11 tournament on the PS3 online platform.  Winning prizes included a trip to the Maxim Super Bowl party in Dallas, totaling over $25,000.

Virgin Gaming reports about 170,000 users in 30 countries.  With the new wagering on video games format in process, the number of players is bound to heighten.  Next on the docket is the launching of Madden NFL 11 Red Zone, which should be in play within several weeks.  The new feature will allow players to create open and private tournaments in order to play at their own leisure.  Current online video games, which have been successful in tournament wagers for Virgin Gaming, include NBA 2K11 and Halo.  The recent inclusion of EA titles are expected to be a major boost to the company’s user base.

“Competitive online gaming is an increasingly popular component of our industry and a great way for EA Sports and Virgin Gaming to help connect gamers around the world through the global language of sports,” said Peter Moore, President of EA Sports, in a statement. “Virgin Gaming demonstrates the system-wide integrity we desire, and this is a great opportunity for EA Sports fans to experience secure and impeccably managed online tournaments for some of our top titles.”

Virgin Gaming has taken precautions to protect its gamers.  Tournament winners have their game play and activities monitored to ensure there is no cheating.  Users also are allowed to only load $500 onto their account each week.  Larger deposits require direct contact with customer service.

This is an innovative move for Virgin Gaming, owned by Richard Branson, and EA Sports, one of the most recognized video game companies.  Around $2 billion is believed to be wagered on sports in Las Vegas every year, but as much as $60 billion is estimated to be wagered online annually.

This is a major amount of money that is available for businesses to tap into if they can find a means to reach users.  By combining sports betting and the currently most popular sports video games, these companies believe they have created that platform.

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