The last two decades have seen many industries turned upside down by technology, and the sports betting industry is not different. Where in the 1990s you might see the bookies on the high street and stalls at the racetrack with punters needing to place bets in person, with only a limited number of matches and races for people to bet on, now people expect to be able to place bets on any match taking place anywhere on earth at the tap of a smartphone.
New online-focused betting firms have also either bought up or pushed aside many of the older more established brands, with billion-pound companies created out of almost nothing within a few years. However, the pace of change is not slowing down any time soon, and the big names of today will need to adapt to these upcoming technologies to succeed for the next decade.
Live streaming exclusives
Live or in-play betting made possible via mobile apps has been a major source of growth for the industry over the last decade. Currently, people bet using apps whilst watching games either in person or broadcast on television or via an online subscription, but in these circumstances the bookies are all competing against each other for bets during each game. If broadcast licensing laws are opened up and sporting bodies are open to the possibility, then we may soon see a situation where bookies own the broadcast rights to games and the only way to watch would be through their apps, blocking out the competition.
Firms like Bet365, which My Betting Sites says is the “world’s biggest bookie” already streams a variety of sporting fixtures, but exclusivity could be a game-changer. These streaming exclusives may not be suited to popular events like Premier League matches, but for sports that otherwise may struggle to find broadcasters the bookies could fund the streaming technology and bandwidth in return for exclusive rights, getting more sport online.
Esports may still appear a niche activity to many, but the industry is booming and has generated over $15 billion this year alone. Whilst the pandemic may have pushed eSports into the mainstream, it was already hugely popular and growing rapidly. And with any competitive game with a massive audience, bookies are already looking to get involved in the action.
The FA Cup Final or Grand National could soon be joined by The Fortnite World Cup or DOTA 2 International as the most watched and most widely betted upon sporting events of the calendar.
24/7 player updates
The continued success of Sky Sports News demonstrates that there is an appetite for always-on sports news coverage, but the information could be far more in-depth than match scores or information about the transfer window. In a recent interview Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban mentioned that in the future sports fans could have access to live information about a players fitness via a tracker, which could then provide information upon which they may decide on who to be on.
The idea that an individual’s physical condition and mental health may be available as a live stream may seem like a dystopian future to some, but for those looking for every nugget of information that may help them pick the winning side, such information could be incredibly valuable.
Nobody knows how the sports betting world will develop over the coming years, but on one thing we can be certain – how sports betting works in 2030 will look very different to today.
Photograph by Kelvin Stuttard