In the past couple of years, sports gambling has taken on a more significant role in the overall gambling sector, driven primarily by the US Supreme Court’s reversal of PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. Always viewed as potentially the largest, untapped sports gambling market, the US has opened a sports gambling market that now encompasses more than 50% of the country’s population and which recorded over $1 billion in revenue in 2019. That has continued to increase, with $2.1 billion wagered this past August alone.
As a result of the growth and the increased competition among operators, technology is advancing at a rapid pace so sportsbooks can continue to have an edge. This is only going to continue as the entire global sports gambling industry matures, according to gaming industry executive Adam Bjorn, who sees a great deal of innovation still to come.
Internet-based gambling has given sports gambling operators the ability to introduce alternatives that were not possible before. This has led to the creation of up-to-the-minute odds changes for individual contests so that gamblers have real-time data available when it comes time to place their bets. In addition, the expansion of online gambling allows sportsbooks to offer in-game wagers in ways that were not possible before, drawing in larger pools of gamblers who can now place bets on, for example, who might score the next basket in an NBA game or if the next play in an NFL game will be a run or a pass play.
A large part of this is made possible because of artificial intelligence, which can assimilate massive amounts of data to produce interesting wagers automatically.
Says Bjorn, “The in-game betting action is also giving way to the inclusion of live game coverage directly on the sportsbooks’ websites. This helps to drive fan engagement and keep gamblers tuned in, but it also gives the sportsbooks the ability to provide coverage for some events that might otherwise be off-limits due to broadcasting agreements or lack of regional coverage. Sportsbooks can offer a wider range of options to a wide audience, often being able to legally bypass local restrictions.”
Smartwatches have become the latest trend in consumer sales and their popularity has not been lost on the sports gambling market. It is now possible to link, under certain circumstances, smartwatches to gambling apps, giving bettors immediate feedback on their wagers, changes in lines and new options, which they can then respond to accordingly without having to pull out their phones.
A lot of the technological advancements seen can be tied to the introduction of HTML5. HTML is the “language” that is responsible for how website data is rendered. With HTML5, gambling operators don’t need to create one version of a website for desktops and laptops, another for mobile websites and yet another for downloadable apps.
The technology behind HTML5 allows one single version that is automatically adapted to the device being used by the viewer.
Explains Bjorn, “The advancements just don’t stop with the ability to expand product, but the speed of processing deposits and withdrawals, processing Compliance documents (KYC) and also the game data and video streaming that’s also come along in leaps and bounds the last 5-10 years. Looking ahead, speed, speed and more speed, as well as an infinite amount of product and bet type expansion, is on the horizon with 5G and the amount of data that’s now being collected by all of the sports and their leagues.”
Virtual reality (VR) is gaining a lot of attention from sports gambling operators lately. The technology allows the companies to provide virtual games for their users through a superior graphical interface, even allowing them to participate in fantasy games in football, basketball, soccer and more. This also drives customer engagement and leads to an enhanced user experience.
Digital currencies are a border-less form of payment. They have been a major source of growth by operators, who can accept deposits and withdrawals easily through Bitcoin, Ethereum and others, without having to spend resources figuring out monetary conversions and financial licensing. In addition, cryptocurrency offers a more reliable, secure payment method that is cheaper than fiat alternatives, and which can facilitate almost immediate completion of financial transactions.
The rise in popularity of sports gambling has facilitated technological advancement in the industry, which has, in turn, given way to even more popularity. This cycle of growth behind sports gambling is only going to increase exponentially moving forward, with the industry poised to be one of the most prominent sources of revenue for private companies, as well as governments.
“Technology has come a very long way since I started in the business 25 years ago,” adds Bjorn.
“When I started, we used large paper ledgers to track the bets and update the house’s position on each event being bet on. With the advancements of the Internet and sportsbook & Player account wagering, it’s also made it easier to offer a much broader and granular range of betting options on all sports. In the last decade, we have seen the industry move from a very low percentage of wagers coming via mobile phones to over 70% at present. Also, with the advancement of technology, we have also seen 80% of all bets being placed on events yet to start, to now where 80% are being wagered in ‘in-play’ sporting events. This is also due to the advancements of the data collection and the broad range of mathematician algorithms that have impacted the speed at which technology can convert the data to real-time odds that’s available for consumers in a matter of seconds.”