Tech giant Verizon Media and global gaming group Entain are teaming up to develop virtual reality entertainment and betting services designed to revolutionise the fan experience both inside and out of arenas.

Verizon and Entain – which owns Ladbrokes and BetMGM – will collaborate to develop a first-of-its-kind highly immersive proof of concept virtual reality experience, that will combine live sports viewing with interactive layers of sports data and gaming. Consumers will be able to participate in sports events, check data, socialise with friends, and place bets on Entain platforms.   

Entain will also work closely with Verizon to develop concepts for new formats with emerging technologies like 5G, virtual reality, and augmented reality to bring immersive content and gaming to sports betting and gambling.

The two organisations said that along with betting on the Entain platforms on live streaming sports events, the goal is to “create realistic, immersive experiences for sports fans, such as being in the stadium, participating in play, competing and betting on outcomes on the Entain platforms”.

Shay Segev, chief executive of Entain, said the imagined products and services have the potential to bring down the barriers between in-stadium fans and their friends at home.  

“To win in the future we need to understand where consumers will be in five, ten years’ time and work with other global businesses also investing in that,” said Segev.

“We envisage consumers meeting at a game with friends, who could in fact be elsewhere, using virtual reality headsets to watch, interact and share the experience together and, potentially, compete between themselves at half time or feel like they’re on the pitch with the players.”

The collaboration builds on an existing relationship between Yahoo Sports, part of Verizon Media, and BetMGM, a joint venture with MGM Resorts through which Entain operates in the US.

Sports betting is legally available in 20 US states following the repeal of a federal ban in 2018.

Guru Gowrappan, chief executive of Verizon, said: “Together, we are building the next-generation of content experiences for sports and gaming fans.

“Our world-first 5G-enabled production studios in LA and London, creative technology teams and Verizon Media’s Immersive platform, that enables extended reality (XR) content to be created and distributed across digital channels at scale, allow partners like Entain to bring next-level immersive and interactive experiences to their customers.”

Entain added: “The new alliance coincides with first findings of new research for Entain from YouGov, revealing that gaming and entertainment is converging across multiple devices and becoming increasingly interactive, with two-thirds of consumers combining it with social media to increase their enjoyment.”