NBA Gets Virtual Sports Betting Game and Makes History

Sportsbooks are always looking for ways to grow their industry, and a big seed may have just been planted for them.

The NBA announced this week that it and the Players Union had reached an agreement with Highlight Games, a UK-based gambling provider, to launch the virtual sports betting game “NBA Last 90”. This will allow gamblers to bet real money on simulated match-ups using real NBA highlights and footage. “NBA Last 90” is scheduled to be ready for the 2019-20 season. You can see an example of the game on

How Does It Work?

Computer software will simulate the last 90 seconds of an NBA matchup. They will take into effect all sorts of different factors and algorithms which allow bettors to bet live on the action. Bettors have the opportunity to bet on who will win, who will score on the first possession, the over/under points scored, and other props.

Archived highlights and footage of NBA matchups from recent seasons will be loaded into the computer. The league said that “millions of possible outcomes” will be programmed.

What is Virtual Sports?

If you ever saw the movie “Rocky Balboa”, you would know that Rocky got brought out of retirement because of a virtual sports simulation which pitted him against Mason Dixon. Rocky won, Mason Dixon and his team got upset and wanted the real thing, and well, I won’t spoil the rest of it for you.

Virtual sports is very similar, although a bit more high tech and advanced than that Rocky-Mason Dixon virtual fight. Virtual sports are basically bringing video games to life. Video games play out a sports event using computer software which uses actual sports statistics to determine the outcome of a game. Advanced algorithms are plugged into this software along with the skill of the participants as well as normal tendencies during a game, such as luck and bounces. They use old and recent highlight clips to help with the graphics so it looks like a real game is actually taking place.

Things are so high tech now that while you think you’re watching a real sports event, you could actually be watching a virtual “fake” game. With it becoming so real, sports leagues are beginning to legalize their sport for virtual betting purposes.

Where can I bet on These Games?

According to the NBA’s Press Release, “NBA Last 90” will appear at licensed land-based, online, and mobile operators that are legalized in U.S. and European betting markets.

Is This New?

While not many people know about it, the fact is virtual sports betting has been going on before in horse racing, soccer, and even other types of video games, such as Madden NFL. However, the NBA is the first major professional sports league in the U.S. to offer any form of virtual sports betting directly to its fans. This will give fans the opportunity to bet on games during the season and offseason, and paves the way for possible historic match-ups that we all discuss and debate about as to who is better.


With technology booming to mind-blowing levels, this was bound to happen. They’ve made these virtual games look so real to the naked eye. Sportsbooks are always looking at ways to introduce new types of gambling and get creative, so it’s no surprise that they are making deals with other sports leagues to increase interest and popularize virtual sports.

While I don’t think a lot of people know about this yet, it has the potential to grow with time. If the rollout with the NBA is successful, I expect the NFL, college football, and NHL to take full advantage and follow suit to score a profit.

This also has loads of potential to expand beyond just current teams and games taking place. Be prepared to see virtual video games in which champions of the past face off against each other. After all, who doesn’t want to see the ‘98 Bulls take on the ‘18 Warriors in a virtual NBA game and bet on it? The NFL can get a lot of action in a 49ers Dynasty-Patriots Dynasty game. Imagine seeing 2018 Clemson go up against the great 2001 Miami Hurricanes in college football?

There’s nowhere to go but up with this. While I have no idea how they can do it, I’m amazed at what they’ve already accomplished, so I wouldn’t put anything past the computer geeks of today.

I have a BA in Journalism from the University of South Florida and worked as a sports editorial assistant and supervisor for the Tampa Bay Times for 10 years. I've also taught and managed a Journalism program at the high school level and currently work as a freelance writer. I have a deep passion for sports, particularly golf, football, and baseball, and have been active in the gambling industry for the last 10 years.

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