ITV created something new in the wake of the coronavirus this weekend as they presented the Virtual Grand National, a virtual horse racing event. With the UK under lockdown and all sporting events on hiatus until its safe to go back out again, people are looking online and on TV for solutions. ITV decided that if they couldn't show off the actual Grand National horse racing event, which would have taken place on April 4th in Liverpool, they'd do the next best thing. Create a virtual version of the event for people to watch. It's an interesting concept that actually garnered viewership today. With Potters Corner winning the entire event, which you can read the full results here. But the event wasn't created just to fill a void on television, it was also designed to fill the gambling void that would have taken a hit had there been no race to watch. Read the quote below from Gary Follis of the Betting and Gaming Council as he talked to The Guardian about the event.
"We've developed a set of rules around this and there's going to be no marketing to new customers, it's only going to be promoted among the current customer base, and there's also going to be guidelines around the treatment of any new customer who signs up as a result of this. Like any Grand National, there will always be new customers, though probably considerably fewer this time around, but we're looking at ways to put them into a separate database, so that they don't receive any follow-up marketing or cross-promotion of other products."
"It's about a bit of light relief during coronavirus and to raise money for the NHS. I think we've been beaten up often enough that the penny is dropping that we've got to be whiter than white on this, so it hasn't been difficult to get members to agree to that."
So basically, they made the Virtual Grand National partially for the fans, but also because they wanted people to bet on the races and keep that end of the economy going. We hope all the time it took to program in the horses and set up an RNG system to determine the winner was worth it. Depending on the ratings, which some predict when they're fully calculated may be bigger than if the real event happened, you may see more of this during the outbreak.