Over the course of the last decade, the nature of sports betting has changed almost beyond recognition.
Incredibly, there’s scope for further change too, as the market continues to evolve on the back of sustained innovation and technological advancement. There are several factors that have driven this evolution, from the introduction of in-play betting and cash-out features to the proliferation of mobile technology. In fact, the combination of these factors has caused a seismic shift in the sports betting landscape, and one that has been largely embraced by players.
In this post, we’ll look at the future of sports betting and the trends that are likely to define this marketplace in the years ahead.
Online Sports Betting In The UK: A Brief But Lucrative History
There’s no doubt that the online sports betting market has grown at an incredible rate during the last decade, with most games recording treble digit growth in terms of activity. In fact, only horse racing seen its volume of online bets decline in 2007, with this having much to do with the sustained success of high street bookmakers and the lure of live betting at racecourses.
The number of online sports bets placed in relation to football has increased by a staggering 244% during the same period, while tennis (179%) and cricket (132%) have recorded similarly impressive growth statistics.
It’s significant that this incredible rate of growth has coincided with the emergence of advanced smartphone technology. The recent generation of Apple and Android handsets (which came to prominence following the release of the first iPhone in 2007) have empowered users to track real-time data relating to sporting events. This trend has been effectively leveraged by operators, who have cultivated live and in-play wagering as a way of optimising revenues and targeting customers at a time when they are at their most engaged with the concept of sports betting.
What Does The Future Hold In The Sports Betting Market?
While UK regulators may be set to prohibit gambling operators from advertising during live sporting events (which could in turn reduce in-play betting volumes and mobile interactions), technology driven trends will continue to shape the market in the future. But, what else does the future hold in this marketplace and what trends should we look for in the years ahead?
- Cross-platform gambling will become increasingly commonplace
Historically, there has been a significant battle between on and offline gambling platforms, under the mistaken belief that the virtual casinos and sports betting would make land-based wagering obsolete. As the number of accessible high street operators has continued to increase alongside the expansion of the online market, these fears have been eased – this should usher in a progressive era of cross-platform gambling.
From the perspective of land-based betting shops, this means that establishments will continue to integrate interactive technology in a bid to modernise their proposition. This is an approach has been most evident in traditional bingo halls across the UK, which now feature high-tech components such as interactive, LED screens, automated draws and a more diverse range of payment options.
This has helped to create a cross-platform gaming experience that appeals to younger and transitional players, while it has helped offline gameplay to thrive across multiple disciplines. By integrating technology into land-based betting shops, operators have managed to remain relevant and increase their presence nationwide.
It’s likely that these trends will continue in the years ahead, with cross-platform gambling set to become increasingly popular among the current generation of gamers.
- Bitcoin will become the gambler’s currency of choice
If there’s one trend that continues to become increasingly influential in the world of online gambling, it’s the rise of Bitcoin. Not only can gamblers now access Bitcoin-inspired casinos, but there are also plans to develop a cryptocurrency gambling platform that minimises the house edge and affords participants a competitive edge.
This trend is also beginning to impact on sports betting, as operators integrate Bitcoin along with popular e-wallet solutions and traditional credit card options.
In the future, we may well see Bitcoin grow to dominant the marketplace and become the gambler’s currency of choice. Not only does Bitcoin aid responsible gambling by allowing participants to keep their bankroll entirely separate, but its transparency and lack of fees also enables players to optimise their returns.
From an operator perspective, Bitcoin also eliminates the need for costly conversions between currencies, which can undermine profitability during cycles of sustained devaluation.
With these points in mind, we should expect Bitcoin to gradually take over the sports betting and online casino market during the next decade.
- Wagering on competitive e-sports
In case you missed it, the e-sports industry has become one of the fastest growing entities in the world during the last five years. By 2020, it’s estimated that this marketplace will generate more than £1 billion in global revenue, while its audience will double to nearly 600 million during the same period.
If you’re not familiar with the market, it’s a space in which serious computer gamers compete directly against one another in front of a live audience (and millions of online subscribers). As this discipline has grown and become increasingly successful, forwarding thinking operators have identified an opportunity to allow wagers that generate a potentially significant revenue stream.
With competitive games such as DOTA, FIFA and StarCraft boasting a global audience of millions, both serious players and casual fans are increasingly keen to follow and wager on the outcome of e-sports events. This is already creating a huge global betting market and one that may begin to rival traditional sports wagering overtime.
Some experts have even suggested that e-sports has the potential to become one of the type five sports in the world, meaning that betting on competitive tournaments could ultimately generate revenues that rival the value of wagering on football, cricket and boxing.
Written by Feargal Brennan
Feargal Brennan is a long-suffering Everton fan who turned to European football for respite from the Toffees’ struggles. A frequent radio contributor, Feargal writes on football and betting and is an expert in how to cope when you support a forever frustrating football team.