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What Has Modern Tech Done For Sports Betting?

Fri 27th Jan 2017 | IT & Technology

The popular image of sports betting is traditional – gloomy bookmakers, faded TV screens, and a floor laden with paper slips.

However, as far as stereotypes go, it’s one increasingly out of touch with reality; modern bookmakers have proven as willing to adopt new technology as any other industry, giving punters the option of playing on or offline.

Here are just three ways the bookies are modernising the world of sports betting:

Big Data

Leicester City attributed their incredible Premier League triumph in 2015/16 to big data – or, at least, part of it. Describing the collection and analysis of thousands or millions of datasets, big data is a tool used to discern useful patterns in statistics. In the case of sports betting, that means using win streaks and other quantifiable information to predict the outcome of events.

It's a novel approach but there’s little evidence that it works consistently. For example, in the 1990s, when human bookmakers used their own experience to pick the winners of NFL games, they were correct 66.7% of the time; in the 2000s, bookies’ success rate only increased by 0.2%, despite support from the latest computer algorithms.

Sport is full of unpredictable elements, which is exactly why sports betting is so interesting, and matches so hard to predict. After all, even Leicester City’s biggest fans didn’t expect The Foxes to win the Premier League.

Cryptocurrency

Online sportsbooks are also taking gaming to strange and wonderful places, incorporating so-called digital currency, a type of money that has no real-world presence, into their business model. It’s a bold step but one that isn’t without its rewards, as evidenced by the adoption of Bitcoin by pubs all over the UK and by major brands like Microsoft.

Offline, Bitcoin has struggled for purchase in the mainstream consciousness simply because its benefits aren’t well known and the cryptocurrency is perceived as being shrouded in jargon. However, on the internet, brands that operate in Bitcoin exclusively – like bitcasino, a sportsbook and iGaming site - are helping foster trust in the enigmatic token.

BitCasino’s sportsbook is as sophisticated as they come, offering live betting on football, rugby and tennis, as well as on niche sports like futsal, bandy, and floorball.

Virtual Reality (VR)

One of the more exciting – and humorous - developments in sports betting recently is the appearance of VR horse racing, complete with headset and ridable plastic horse. The software, called Get in the Race, works by embedding GPS trackers in runners’ saddles, which relay location information to a virtual racetrack.

The technology will allow players to “race” their virtual horse to the finish line, and will probably make use of budget devices like Google Cardboard in physical betting shops, although VR racing has been demoed on the Oculus Rift. In theory, most sports centred on a race, like speedway or greyhound racing, could support VR spectating as well.

So, what about the future of sports betting? The industry's innovators are pushing for a more social gaming experience - beyond the staple chat rooms and friends lists. For example, a betting platform that allows fans to compare their bets with others, join a syndicate with strangers, or even compete with other players on a leaderboard would be quite a novel offering in a sector that doesn't always offer much in the way of variety. 

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