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Blockchain in sports betting could provide a new kind of fan experience

139   //    06 Nov 2018, 23:22 IST

Parma Calcio v Frosinone Calcio - Serie A
Parma Calcio v Frosinone Calcio - Serie A

With the recent legalization of sports betting in the US, many professionals in the industry are waiting in anticipation to see what happens next. Big changes are happening across the sector, which could affect how fans interact with the sports they love.

While traditional gambling brings to mind slot machines, smoky casinos and dealers running card games, today’s world of sports betting is extremely far removed from what gambling once was. Ted Leonsis, former AOL exec turned sports mogul, said it best when he compared sports betting with trading stocks.

“I liken sports betting more to Wall Street. I don’t believe it’ll be considered a game of chance,” says Leonsis. “I think it will be a game of skill, just like you can be a day trader - you can be at Goldman Sachs, making billion-dollar bets on companies.”

As sports betting moves into the mainstream, legalization opens new doors for the industry. For example, fans could be able to place bets in real time.

Imagine visiting a place specifically designed for sports betting. Like a casino, but more advanced. A space outfitted with the latest viewing technology, with screens showing games and matches from around the world and bettors being able to place bets as each play happens. Traditional sports bets can still be placed, but opportunities for additional prop bets keep fans engaged throughout the game.

This is the future Leonsis believes is coming.

Eventually, sports betting will become the norm in arenas across the country. Fans will be able to place bets from their seats and updated odds will appear on the jumbotron in real-time during the game. Soon every fan will be able to place bets straight from an app on their phone, no matter where in the world they may be.

But with increased online betting comes increased data collection. Fans’ data will be collected by teams, by betting platforms, and even potentially by other bettors. Because of this, it is essential for platforms to be backed by a secure, decentralized network to ensure users’ data is secure.

Blockchain technology as the backbone for sports betting platforms allows bettors to feel confident that their data is safe. As an added bonus, blockchain also ensures there will always be a record of the bets they placed.

Some companies have introduced blockchain technology into their sports betting platforms already. One platform, ZenSports, sees the potential of blockchain in sports betting, and how it could allow for a new kind of fan experience.

Through the use of cryptocurrencies and smart contracts, ZenSports lets users place peer-to-peer bets without the need for a centralized bookkeeper. Because of blockchain’s efficient structure, it allows users to place bets in real time.

Platforms backed by blockchain, like ZenSports, provide users the opportunity to place bets on anything, and to set their own parameters and odds on each one. Smart contracts are created each time a bet is made, and these inform how a bet is won or lost, who gets paid out, etc.

The platform has partnered with ICON, one of the world’s largest blockchains, to build smart contracts and allow bettors to use SPORT, ZenSports’ own cryptocurrency, or ICX as an alternative to traditional funds. Using cryptocurrency to place bets is cheaper (as there are little to no upfront fees), faster and more trustworthy for bettors.

A platform like ZenSports shows us what the future of sports betting may look like. Rather than sitting back and watching passively, allowing play-by-play betting means fans will stay attentive throughout the entire game or match.

With the opportunity to place any bet they want, with anyone they want, bettors have more opportunities to engage with their favourite sports than ever before.

Decades ago, professional American leagues were publicly opposed to sports betting after dealing with match-fixing and point-shaving scandals. But after public approval and the recent legalization, most have now come around, with the NBA and MLB leading the way. It won’t be long before all leagues see the potential for sports betting.

With new technology and legislation comes a new fan experience. The potential for real-time sports betting, whether from the comfort of your couch or the stands of an arena, will bring fans into a new era of professional sports.

MLG contributor, writing educational content on the blockchain industry.
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