While much of the world has had access to online gambling games, such as poker and bingo, for many years, sports betting has been more controversial. As global markets have opened up more, the UK has benefited significantly; as The Guardian notes, the gambling industry has seen overall growth, with 28% on online methods specifically. Sports betting has of course been a factor of the match day in the UK for many decades, and it has brought with it increasingly sophisticated systems that enable gamblers to place their bets in the way they like, alongside a huge range of markets to provide a bit of inspiration to punters on each match day.
The technological foundation
Betting was once at home in musky betting shops. It was common for these small, windowless outlets to be packed out every Saturday with gamblers smoking, drinking and putting small wagers on each and every horse race and football match of the day. While betting shops remain open and are still popular, many hundreds have closed, according to This Is Money. Today, gambling is more sanitised, and hosted largely online. With that has come greater opportunities.
Betting apps have been around for about as long as the smartphone has existed, but they continue to grow in functionality and ability. Not only do they act as a gateway for gambling, but as an educator, too. Confused gamblers asking what does void mean on bet365, or bet unsettled on BetVictor, can now find that information easily accessible via FAQs and customer support. The app enables the betting companies to support their customers, both in making full use of their account and in staying safe while gambling. This has become especially important given recent analysis by the government and NGOs.
The rising risk
In late 2020, Wired reported that the pandemic had created an online betting crisis. This was exacerbated through new lockdowns in 2021, and has not abated today. The problem lies in awareness; gambling can be done safely and securely, but it requires a clear knowledge of the risks and factors that can lead to it becoming problematic. Online sports betting tends to be somewhat less risky as there’s a factor of control involved in the games, rather than them being random, like slots, but that hasn’t prevented issues from arising.
This led to the UK government and national bodies forcing action to try and reverse certain trends. As the LA Times highlights, advertising was considered the main issue, particularly as it was leading some children to be led into sports betting. This had the effect of popping ‘the bubble’, with sports betting on a slight decline, though – as figures have shown – still experiencing huge growth over the year.
A more sustainable future
All of this has fed into a demand for sports betting to become more sustainable. Sports betting is part of the fabric of the UK match day. Some of the fun in heading to the pub and watching the football, for instance, is in having a few drinks and a few bets, for fun. The key is in the latter factor – fun. Gambling is difficult to have a true profession, or as a way to consistently make money. Gamblers who understand this, and never bet more than they can afford to lose – seeing it as a recreational expense – often have the most healthy habits. Betting apps are powerful ways to help influence this, as they can provide that information on the doorstep and give a clear log of how much money is being spent.
As sports betting becomes even more popular and more everyday people come in, new markets are being opened. In the USA, the Super Bowl is the most heavily betted-on event of the year. According to The Independent, a huge 31 million Americans placed at least one bet on the event this year – despite many states still having sports gambling enshrined as illegal in their local laws. No such discretion applies in the UK and so this is one market seeing considerable increases. Other American sports are proving especially popular due to the huge amount of data collected in the course of a game. American betters are well known for their love of stats and betting on margins; so many yards gained in this American football game, so many home runs hit in that baseball match. This is providing plenty of intrigue in the veteran British betting market.
Apps are, of course, at the centre of that change. Providing a huge range of odds in a consistently updated and effectively maintained way makes it easy for gamblers to get involved. Staying safe is perhaps harder than it has been before, but apps can help with that, too. As sports betting continues to explode, online methods will be crucial.