As Old Betting Laws Fall, New Technology May PrevailBottom of the eighth, bases
Welcome to the world of microbetting. As the Supreme Court struck down the Bradley act this week, a Clinton-era federal bill banning sports betting, new technology comes to the forefront of sports entertainment. And this new form of sports betting won’t be limited to Major League Baseball. Fueled by digital currencies like Bitcoin that allow for transactions of one hundred millionths of a cent, and ubiquitous high-speed connections, fans will soon be able to wager on ever play, shot, swing, and serve.
To the benefit of “the house”, the technology for such a system is already in place and the tech industry may be surprised at who holds the keys to this proverbial kingdom. After the economic crisis hit its worst in 2008, FanDuel premiered and dominated as the place for online betting against fantasy teams. The algorithms behind these new fantasy sports betting companies are staggering in both scale and complexity. Processing a massive number of statistics for each player, the algorithms can determine the likelihood that a pitcher strikes out, that a runner steals, or that a batter hits a homer across the back wall. Combine these algorithms with an infrastructure large enough to calculate, serve and log bets instantaneously and you’ve pioneered the microbetting platform.
But will fans really be willing to bet such small amounts on every minute action of a player? And what will it mean for viewership? Recent studies including NFL Season Recap — It’s All Over But The Crying (MoffettNathanson, 2017) suggests that viewership of all games could increase as much as ten percent in the first years as sports fans, who aren’t usually betters, take up the new form of sports gambling and untold numbers of betters begin sports viewership. Add to this the efficiency of microtransactions, as shown in mobile and console gaming, and allowing fans to wager fractions of a cent, while seemingly miniscule, add up to big gains for betting houses, and small losses for fans.