Virtual gambling is an Internet form of betting that is usually structured like a game, and typically involves fake currency. As such, players can’t actually lose money playing these games. Depending on the site involved, though, the virtual money that’s bet, won, and lost may have some value, even just within the limited constraints of the site. Some web services allow winners to use money to “shop” in virtual stores, often as a means of buying accessories or outfits for the avatars that represent the players online; winnings might also be converted into status symbols that other virtual gamblers will recognize. Offline, though, there aren’t usually any financial benefits or consequences. This sort of gambling can be a good way to learn games and play them in a relatively safe environment, but it can also raise problems for people with addictive personalities since it can sometimes lead people to believe that they’ll have more success in real casinos or on actual online gambling sites that they might otherwise.
Most virtual gambling games are structured like regular casino games, including poker, black jack, and slots. Players often see graphics that simulate a card table or slot machine, and it often looks like they’re actually there. Participants can sometimes — though not always — interact with other users in real time, and they may be able to “see” other players if the game uses avatars or other aspects of simulated reality.
Sports betting games can also fall within this category, as can horse racing games. These usually have realistic graphics and include many of the popular horse racing and other sporting events, often in real time. The advantage for many people is that they can have the fun and entertainment of betting on events without the risk of losing money.
How Games are Accessed and Played
Virtual games all exist online, though they are hosted in a variety of places. Some stand-alone websites offer gambling games, for instance, as do certain organizations. The most popular tend to be found within social networking sites. People who are already members of these sites can join virtual betting games with their friends or other people in their networks; for some, these sorts of venues can be a good way to “meet” new people, too.
Most of the time, games are played in real time — which is to say, in the moment in which they’re happening. They are structured around live participants, too. This means that people usually need to be logged in to the site or server to play, and there isn’t usually a way to pause or save the game for later.
Difference From Traditional Internet Gambling
There is a difference between virtual and what is commonly known as Internet gambling, usually most profoundly where money is concerned. Many Internet gambling sites allow people to play casino games for money. This type of gambling is illegal in many places, including the United States. This form of gambling can be more addictive than casino gambling because gamblers can place bets from home computers, and can lose a lot of money very quickly — usually with just a few clicks of their mouse.
Virtual gambling is different from Internet gambling because it is a game with fake money, which makes it legal in the United States and most other countries, too. This type of gambling is purely designed for entertainment and training purposes. It is often just as accessible as versions with money, and can be just as addictive — but players don’t often stand to lose much.
Risks and Benefits
Like most things, there are both pros and cons to virtual gaming and betting activity. One of the inherent issues with playing gambling games for entertainment is the risk that a person may become an addicted gambler. Gambling can be habit forming for compulsive risk takers, and many people have lost their families and livelihood through addictive gambling disorders. Virtual games aren’t usually harmful in and of themselves in this regard, but they may intensify the condition for those with disorders, and they can give people a perhaps unwarranted confidence that they can win at real gambling casinos.
There are also a number of positive things to be said for this sort of gaming. They can be a good way to connect with friends and family online in a fun way, and can also be good practice for people looking to build skills in games like poker or blackjack. Games often allow players to learn and experience how to play without risk.