Last weekend’s Virtual Grand National raised £2.6 million for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), it has been revealed.
The computer-generated event replaced the real-life version this year, which was cancelled due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.
4.8 million people watched Saturday evening’s race, which was broadcasted on ITV.
Still an important betting event for many
All revenue made by sportsbooks from the race was donated to the NHS. Users could also contribute money via other means, such as donation links.
The Virtual Grand National proved to be successful with punters, despite limited advertising allowances being set out by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).
18/1 shot Potters Corner finished in first place, with Walk in the Mill (16/1) and Any Second Now (10/1) finishing second and third respectively.
Coral spokesman David Stevens expressed his delight at people’s reaction to the race. He admitted that beforehand, he was unsure how things would pan out in the absence of the real thing.
His thoughts were as follows.
“We had no idea how popular the Virtual Grand National would be as it was a completely unique situation, with the virtual version replacing the real thing.
“The average stake per bet worked out at just over £2, which showed this virtual National really hit the spot in terms of providing a fun, one-off betting opportunity for so many people.
“And most importantly, all those small bets added up to a fantastic donation to NHS Charities Together.
“We are all seeing on a daily basis the amazing work the NHS are doing right now, so it’s entirely fitting that they are the real winners of this year’s virtual Grand National.”
The sports betting industry is pivoting in the absence of real-life sports
In the absence of major events, sports betting is looking for unique ways to engage players.
Some have turned to esports, while other virtual sporting events are being developed too. Elsewhere, poker has also been talked about.
One such example of the latter is the launch of ATP Tennis’ animated event, created in collaboration with IMG ARENA.
The product, titled ‘ATP 1000 Virtual Tennis’, adds to IMG ARENA’s portfolio of virtual sports elsewhere – which includes basketball and football.
IMG ARENA Managing Director Freddie Long referred to the product as “game-changing”. He also added that the company has “developed the most realistic look, feel, and betting experience.”