Are NFTs the future of virtual horseracing?

  • Updated
  • By Hannah Timoney
Are NFTs the future of virtual horseracing?
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Zed Run, one of the latest cryptotrends in the sports racing world, is taking the industry by storm. The game allows digital horse ownership, racing, trading and even breeding! Unlike virtual horseracing machines you can already enjoy at casinos and bookies in the UK, these digital races don't rely on random number generators for pre-determined race results, but instead let bettors wager using factors like race history and breed type.

The trend relies on NFT technology to establish proof of ownership and ensures that each horse, with its own stats and strengths, is the real deal. The unique token also allows for trading of these digital horses that are, in reality, nothing more that ones and zeroes. But, what is NFT?

NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token, which means that once generated, it is unique and can’t be replaced. Bitcoins on the other hand are Fungible, meaning they can be traded and you’d have the exact same thing. This isn’t the case with these horses, and each one is one-of-a-kind, with unique stats and a race history you can follow just like a real horse.

The platform Zed was launched early in 2019 by Virtually Human, an Australian studio, who were selling 4,450 digital horses. They now have nearly 11,000 horses, with another 8,000 bred, spread across 3,600 so-called 'stables'. 

While horses originally sold for an average price of $30, the rarer horses are now regularly selling for more than $15,000 - one even sold for $125,000!

Just like with real horse racing, the horses in this virtual platform are given odds on winning races, based on a number of factors. These include breed types and established blood lines. The odds are hidden from players, but their race history is provided, so players can bet just as they would on real horses at regular bookies or online casinos.

Chris Ebeling, the Virtually Human cofounder has said that weather conditions and track location could even impact results in the future. While this is revolutionary, this isn't the first time horses have gone digital. Last year saw the Grand National take place virtually in support of the NHS.

What’s really exciting is that Zed owners are able to use augmented reality technology to view their horses as if they were really in the room, adding another layer of realism to this digital sport. Fans who like the excitement of horseracing but maybe disagree with the use of animals for sport may find it more comfortable to enjoy the game this way.

So, is this the future of horseracing? Not yet. For now, Ebeling says that Zed isn’t looking to replace real-life horses. “Reality is reality,” he said. “It will always have its place.”

But, this still brings innovation and new excitement to a centuries old hobby, though I doubt the Palio will ever move to the digital and take place virtually. 

 

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