It’s fair to say that online gambling has come a long way since its origin in the early days of online gaming, marked by black and white screens, joystick operation, and simple wagering. Today, with the explosion of mobile gaming and smart devices, the industry is undergoing a digital transformation, and with it, the method of wagering. While the medium is evolving, so too are the betting exchanges, evolving from their roots as sportsbooks to encompass a diverse array of games and activities.
Take esports betting as an example. Rooted in online gaming and inspired by traditional sports, esports betting started small, with a handful of bookmakers providing odds on classic games like CS:GO or Dota 2. As these games gained popularity and grew in stature, so too did esports betting, leading to the emergence of specialist esports betting exchanges like Betway or GG Market, which focus solely on this niche activity.
While esports betting may still be in its infancy in comparison to traditional sports, it’s clear that this emerging niche will continue to grow in importance, both in terms of revenue and audience reach. Esports betting is now available across the entire spectrum of major sports, from football to tennis, with the majority of bookmakers providing odds on leagues, tournaments, and games across all major sports.
The most significant change in online gambling over the past couple of decades is in the method of wagering. From the early days of betting on the outcome of sporting events to decide the winner, to the invention of the Euro, wagering evolved from a simple ‘heads’ or ‘tails’ decision to one that considered a variety of factors. Specifically, as gamblers became more sophisticated, they started looking not just at the outcome of a game but also its method, watching how a game is played and considering the quality of the action in terms of skill and strategy, among other things.
This points-based economy underpins much of the evolution that comes with online gambling. While bookmakers once provided odds on the outcome of a game, these days they only provide markets, where customers place bets on the outcome as well as a range of supplementary bets like how a game is going to be played or which teams are going to win. These bets may be placed in relation to individual games or across many games, providing an opportunity to place multiple bets while also diversifying one’s portfolio and minimising one’s risk.
The world of online gaming is also undergoing a transformation. While the industry has always been around, it went through an extraordinary period of growth towards the end of the year, 2020, driven by the outbreak of COVID-19 with many businesses closing down and people choosing to stay at home. Despite the impact the pandemic has had on the gaming world, it has also brought about significant changes, with many businesses adjusting to a digital model and finding ways to provide an online experience to their customers, regardless of whether they’re playing at home or in a land-based venue.
From dedicated consoles to mobile and tablet devices, gaming is now largely accomplished through digital channels. This has significant implications for the way we play games, the way we engage with other gamers, and most importantly, the way we bet on games. While we played games on dedicated consoles and computer monitors for much of the 2020, mobile gaming and accessibility through the cloud have opened up new horizons. It’s not just about the device but the experience on the device. With mobile devices, the screen is often the only real connection to reality. Through augmented and virtual reality, gamers can actually be part of the action even when they’re on the other side of the world. Thanks to companies like Google Stadia, gamers can now play high-performance games on the go, removing the need for a console or PC at home. While mobile and virtual reality gaming has existed for some time, cloud gaming has arrived to revolutionise the way we play and bet on games.
Increased Global Reach
Another important development stemming from the pandemic is the explosion of online gambling around the world. For years, the largest markets have been in Europe and the Americas, with the UK and Canada leading the way in terms of volume and new opportunities. The spread of online gambling means that even remote areas of the world have had access to this form of entertainment.
The rise of mobile and virtual reality gaming has meant that traditional sports and games are now possible to bet on from anywhere. With the support of online casinos and sportsbooks, players can place bets from the palm of their hand. Thanks to apps like Betty, which was one of the first to offer esports betting, or the complete sports integration available on Ouya, all major sporting events, leagues, and tournaments are now within the scope of an esports betting exchange.
With the world moving to a digital model and traditional venues taking a back seat, the scope of online gambling is truly global.