NBA Plans a Virtual Sports Betting Business with “NBA Last 90” App

It seems that the NBA maybe looking to branch into sports betting and get a share of this thriving market. It has been two years since a court ruling permitted the legalization of online sports betting in the U.S a ruling that states such as New Jersey and Delaware have fully taken advantage of. In a recent announcement the (NBPA) National Basketball Players Association and the NBA stated that they would be launching a virtual sports betting game called NBA Last 90, the game is set to give bettors the opportunity to wager on simulated games which feature real highlights from the Basketball League. Based on the announcement, the product is set to launch during the 2019-2020 NBA season. It will also be featured in global markets that permit sports betting including those territories in Europe.

Melting two concepts to make something new

The merger of virtual games or video games and gambling is becoming a theme that is gaining plenty of traction. Just recent Rockstar games announced that they would launching the GTA5 (Grand Theft Auto) online with some gambling features to boot. The news has players and the online community losing their minds with interest, skepticism and excitement. Some players wondered how Rockstar would be able to merge the concept of video games with that of online gambling – something that will most likely be at the focal point of the latest NBA announcement.

Fortunately for the NBA, virtual sports betting is a segment of the online casino gambling scene that has been growing, the evidence is clearly seen in Europe for example who have managed to create an active industry with virtual sports betting. Something that may be a little confusing to potential players is whether to expect a video gaming experience, sportsbook experience or an online casino experience? Based on European versions this merger is less of a sportsbook and more of the classic casino type activity. The offering includes fixed odds that dictate the players chances of landing a winning bet. By structuring is this way, the European market has created a gambling product that should be permitted even in those territories that prohibit sports betting.

Even though the stats that underly the outcomes may be more representative of slot games than video games, the gaming experience fully simulates the video game feel and sports betting vibe. As a player you get the opportunity to watch simulated NBA “video games” that out to be well designed and follow the visual qualities of sports video games such as FIFA and even the NBA video games. The quality of the graphics as well as the killer music and commentary will make the NBA Last 90 gambling experience resemble an intense sports game as well as video game. Last year, the UK Gambling Commission reported that, over £771.4 million in virtual sports bets was made between April 2017 and May 2019. This figure surpassed the value of bets placed on many real sports – something that surely caught the attention of the NBA, especially given all the online gambling law advancements taking place in the US.

According to Scott Kaufman-Ross, the head of fantasy and gaming for the NBA the League has been looking at this avenue of the last few years and were quite shocked to see just how popular virtual sports betting was.

So how would NBA Last 90 be used

In the current example of the combination of the two elements, it is common for players to be given information about the game in various sports and are allowed to make some bets thereafter. The games is then played out in that video-game style mentioned earlier. Some current versions of virtual sports betting even allow players to monitor and essentially “watch” the virtual game or even the entire simulated league – this allows players to not just bet on individual matches but also on the possible outcomes of future games and even bet on who would win the entire virtual league. The NBA has promised that their offering of NBA Last 90 will offer an even more player immersion experience. Essentially every time a player bets and “plays” the game they will be given a display of the Last 90 seconds of the simulated NBA game between to real teams. Here players can place bets on which team is likely to “score first”, which team “will win” or the “total game points” scored. Perhaps the best way to explain how NBA Last 90 will be used is to look at how the game is set to function. The game is still in its developing phase and is currently a collaboration between the League and Highlight Game Limited – a gaming developing company from the UK who has been around for 15 years. The game is set to play out on the screen, showing real highlights from recent NBA seasons which will be used to add a more “realistic” edge to the gameplay. Doing so means this version of a virtual game will feature real players and real teams from the NBA – a first within the market.

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Shihaam Isaacs


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