Inside the sports betting technology ‘arms race’

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 15: (EDITORS NOTE: This image was shot with a fisheye lens.) Guests attend a viewing party for the NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament inside the 25,000-square-foot Race
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 15: (EDITORS NOTE: This image was shot with a fisheye lens.) Guests attend a viewing party for the NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament inside the 25,000-square-foot Race /

As the reality of legalized sports betting all over the United States draws ever closer, the race to provide the technology to facilitate the activity is on.

One of the largest barriers to legalized sports betting has been removed with the Supreme Court of the United States striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. The effects of the ruling are many. One of them is taking the competition to become the primary providers for the technology which will make the gaming happen to another level.

The opportunity appears to be massive. Estimates peg the value of the wagers that currently happen illegally in the US between $80 and $380 million on an annual basis. It’s uncertain how much of that activity will gravitate toward the legal channels once established, but even on the low end, legal sports betting provides a massive opportunity for technology providers to put out a product that could become a household name.

Proof of that concept can be seen in the daily fantasy sports industry and how familiar sports fans in the United States have become with companies like DraftKings. To further leverage its prominence in the industry that is most like single-contest wagering, DraftKings is already seeking out partnerships with casinos to create a betting platform. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, fans should expect a further push in that direction. Undoubtedly, DraftKings would like to become as dominant in providing an application on which bettors can easily make wagers from their devices as it is in DFS.

There’s more to the tech which will drive legal sports betting than just the app that fans will use to place their bets, however. Those who are serious about their wagers will have a need for analytics just like DFS players. In that interest, RotoQL is attempting to leverage its presence in the fantasy sports industry akin to what DraftKings is doing. A recent $4.7 million round of funding is spurring the creation of BetQL, which will look to guide bettors to the best values available for them.

The competition to become the primary platform used by those placing bets will be as fierce as any arms race in history, but that’s just one facet of the new industry. Convenient and reliable technology will be just as important for game operators.

Sportradar, which provides services to game operators around the world that facilitate integrity monitoring, seems poised to do the same in the United States. Sportradar’s Director of Global Strategy for Integrity Services Andy Cunningham revealed that Sportradar has already provided education workshops for North American sports leagues. The NBA, which has been one of the most active North American sports leagues in lobbying for legalized sports betting, already has a relationship with Sportradar through player tracking and statistics.

In addition to the education modules, Sportradar also provides bet monitoring systems and investigation services. Through that technology, Sportradar played a part in FIFA deciding that a match between Senegal and South Africa would be re-played because an official had manipulated the contest.

Prof. Dr. Laila Mintas, Ph.D., who is a deputy president for Sportradar, thinks a centralized hub for all betting activity in the US similar to what has been established in other countries could be replicated in the US and would work well.

“One place where we set something like that up is Italy,” Mintas stated. “They have account-level monitoring where they see in real time every bet that comes through the system. Our goal is to make sure that the information is available to all stakeholders in the system so that if something is potentially compromised they can take action.”

Cunningham echoed Mintas’ confidence about the need for technology to regulate sports betting in the US.

“Our general position on that, one of the things we talk about when we talk about that is the best practice for sports betting regulation is effective technology,” Cunningham added. “We certainly advocate there should be a centralized hub for wagers in real time. There should be effective technology that can report suspicious activity.”

Undoubtedly Sportradar would be able and willing to assist with the establishment of a centralized hub for all sports betting in the US. Its track record with similar systems around the world plus the relationships it has already established in the US seem to give it a leg up on any competition. There are many things yet to be determined, like whether sports leagues will have access to the data and what that access will look like, but the need is beyond dispute. That need comes with a tremendous potential for new revenue for companies who can provide solutions for game operators and bettors that are easy to use and reliable.

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With potential millions in revenue on the line, a few stanzas of a 2007 “Fall Out Boy” song become appropriate. The need and opportunity aren’t a mere scene. The competition to fill those needs and seize the opportunity are a g– d— arms race. Interested parties need to jump on the bandwagon before it fills and they have to find another.