Thomas Stark, Product Marketing Manager at Akamai Technologies describes some of commercial and technological innovations taking place in esports through 2019 – and what it all means for the betting sector in the year ahead.
LUCK-E-SPORTS: ONE BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY MERGES WITH ANOTHER
“In 2020, we’ll see eSports emerge as the next phenomenon in real money betting. With over one billion gamers worldwide, there’s a massive opportunity here for gambling vendors – especially as the nature of eSports creates unlimited possibilities for customer personalisation.
“Unique wagers, such as round-by-round betting on first person shooters, will drive consumer interest, while the continuous conveyor belt of new game releases promises to keep the market fresh. What’s more, the eSports market is so exciting as it will level the playing field for smaller operators. The more established players can set better odds in, say, horse racing because they’re able to buy up store after store of historical data. It’s not yet possible to monopolise such data for eSports because it’s shot up out of nowhere, emerging over the last few years, and the odds are mostly based on gamer reputation.”
SPORTING CONNECTIONS: FANS WILL CONNECT WITH THEIR TEAMS LIKE NEVER BEFORE
“Sport is becoming all about connectivity – sharing your opinions on social media, streaming the games online, placing live bets. With the long-awaited commercial roll-out of 5G in 2020, we’re going to see the arrival of the very first “smart stadium” in the UK – with sensors, cameras and digital signs boosting connectivity and bringing new innovations like AR to the pitch-side. 5G masts will be dotted around these stadiums, enabling them to cope with the huge number of mobile devices interacting with social and gaming experiences, at scale and in real time. Football clubs will be the first to seize upon this opportunity in the UK, using the boosted connectivity to innovate new experiences for spectators. The strong triangular relationship between top football clubs, telco operators and sports-betting vendors will be the key in delivering this, bringing new social and gaming experiences into connected stadiums.”
IT’S TIME FOR THE BOOKAIS
“The gambling industry is going to face a massive tech skills shortage in 2020, as vendors battle one another for expert knowledge in Artificial Intelligence (AI). In-store bookies are going to be replaced by online and mobile gambling as we move into the new decade; AI will be central in this transition as vendors use it to interpret the customer data that allows them to innovate personalised experiences.
“But this process is about more than just tech, as AI only works with the right experts in place to interpret and refine the vast quantities of raw data. In 2020 we’re going to see bookies compete ruthlessly for talent, but also invest heavily into AI through CompSci graduate schemes and upskilling programmes.”
A GAMBLING SLAM DUNK
“The US promises to be the next battlefield for sportsbook gambling vendors to compete. Recent changes opened up sports betting to 13 new markets in the US, with six states allowing online wagers. In 2020, more states will follow successful pioneers like New Jersey into the world of the online sportsbook – and UK investors are going to be first in the queue. UK gambling vendors are the most established in the world and their strong online infrastructure puts them in prime position to capitalise on this emerging market. To gain a greater market share, the smaller domestic bookies and casino operators in the US will partner up with these big names, to help build their online infrastructure.”