The rise of technology in online betting
According to historians, there is some record of betting occurring as far back as 2,000 years ago, when the Greeks would bet on the outcome of sporting exhibitions like the Olympics. It spread to Rome shortly after, where it was popularised, and legalised, as citizens of the great empire placed wagers on gladiatorial battles.
I could go on, but there’s really no need. The reality is, throughout all recorded history, gambling has featured. Having been popularised in its current format through horse racing, contemporary sports betting is now a multi-billion pound industry, with a new customer offer popping up every day.
Such is the competitive nature of the industry, betting has taken great strides in contemporary times, with innovations dragging sports gambling away from the historical notions of high-street bookmakers and race-track coupons. The innovation of digital technologies and the internet have dragged the consumer into a world of almost-limitless possibilities at their fingertips.
It was not that long ago, in the late 90’s, to be exact, that the gambling world was falling over itself in excitement as the idea of the ‘in-play bet’ took hold. Punters could call up the bookmaker of their choice and place a bet against a bookmaker who would be producing odds – as it happened. Back then, merely 20 years ago, this was considered cutting-edge. Nowadays, if a bookmaker did not offer this service, they would simply go out of business.
The development of the internet is surely the single most important factor when it comes to discussing the almost overnight explosion of the online betting scene. Not only does the internet allow us to place bets anywhere with mobile data signal on any device, but it also provides us real-time information and streaming options on sports world-wide. Gone are the days where you would need to be in the location, or even country, of the sporting event – nowadays, if I chose to, I could become an expert on Lithuanian football’s second division, and place bets accordingly. To be clear, this is not something I do. But I could. So could you.
This is reflected in the global marketing coverage of these betting brands. Over the past decade, more and more betting brands have crept into the consciousness of the sporting fan. Of course, one example is the English Football League – which governs the three divisions beneath the Premier League. Its name sponsor is Sky Bet – while 60% of the teams in the top two divisions (Premier League and Championship) are sponsored by betting companies.
The industry is not stopping there, though. And why would it? There seems to be untapped potential, and as technology advances, online gambling is in a phenomenal position to capitalise.
Virtual reality technology is having an impact at both the competitor level, as well as in consumer habits. Not only is eSports an emerging field for punters to place bets on, but virtual reality technology has provided an immersive platform for betting companies to offer another market.
The NBA is one of a number of leading sport franchises to embrace the technology, which offers consumers the perspective of players on the basketball court. As a result of this technology, betting companies can offer proposition bets on events occurring in certain areas of the court. For example, if I’m watching a game through my VR headset, I could place a bet on LeBron James taking his next shot from the area I have indicated on my headset. Minimum effort from the bookmakers’ perspective, with great potential to market.
With almost all of the betting industry moving online, save for a core local market, betting companies are also beginning to explore the option of accepting different forms of currency to provide an additional level of revenue, as well as more privacy for the consumer.
With laws and attitudes towards sports betting relaxing as time goes by, largely due to a fundamental shift in power thanks to the success of online betting, companies have more scope for their markets. However, they still have to abide by, in some cases, archaic laws and, more important, taxation. By moving to a jurisdiction-free model, operating outside of traditional headquartered offices, companies can offer a more relaxed service, allowing consumers to bet using cryptocurrencies and blockchain. In some cases, sports betting companies are already trading in bitcoin, which provides the gambler with another layer of anonymity.
Whether you have a passing interest in online gambling, or consider yourself more committed to the cause, we are living in a fascinating time for the market.