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The Technology Behind Sportsbooks

Gambling and the United States of America are inextricably linked. In the 18th century, lotteries were used by the central government to fund the building of cities, the establishment of universities, and even to financially support the Revolutionary War efforts.

In the decades and centuries that have followed, the United States approach to gambling has flip-flopped between moral outrage at the industry and nationalistic pride over America’s world-famous gambling Mecca–Las Vegas.

Is there anything more distinctly American than this dramatic polarization? Even now as you read this article, the USA’s gambling stance is hazy. In some states, you are free to walk into a casino and bet your entire life savings on red or black, whilst you are strictly forbidden from betting even a dollar online.

Fortunately, though, in a growing number of states Americans are free to open up a sports betting app on their phone, find out the latest NFL betting odds, and back their team to win the Super Bowl.

In this article, I take a look at how modern technology is impacting the sports betting industry and what it means for you, the consumer.

Housekeeping

Before we jump right in let’s get a couple of things straight. The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 effectively outlawed sports betting in any form across the nation. Fortunately for sports fans, the Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional in May 2018.

This has meant that since then sports betting in the United States has been for nearly 4 years. The final decision on legalizing sports betting has been left to individual states to decide upon, which means there are still many places where you can’t place online sports bets.

Fortunately, ESPN has put together a ‘Sports Betting Map’ of the USA which you can view by clicking HERE. If you live in Idaho, Wisconsin, Utah, or any other state with tough anti-sports gambling laws, by all means, enjoy this article but do not try and place a sports bet afterward.

Online Sports Betting: Industry Impacts

Before we start delving down into the minutiae of online sports betting, it’s important to acknowledge the most important technology that has helped the industry – the mobile phone itself.

85% of Americans own a smartphone that is capable of operating a sports betting app – that’s staggering. That means that around 282 million Americans could place a bet on any sport of their liking in just a few taps of their fingers.

This simple fact has boosted engagement in sports betting astronomically. It is the reason that the states offering legal online sports betting are routinely posting monthly revenues in the millions. To see that in effect, take a look at Pennsylvania’s sports betting revenues.

The Coal State took the decision to legalize online sports betting in May 2019. In the month before, Pennsylvania’s sports betting revenues for April 2019 stood at $4.2 million. For October 2021 the figure was $42.2 million and for November 2021 revenues doubled to $84.9 million.

It’s a similar story for the vast majority of states; legalized online sports betting increases revenues dramatically. For that, we have the smartphone to thank, without it tens of millions of Americans wouldn’t have access to sportsbooks.

The Nitty-Gritty

Finally, let’s take a look at some of the finer points of technology that are contributing to the success of online sportsbooks:

AI: In the 1980s if you were an English soccer fan and wanted to bet on the weekend’s FA Cup games, you would have to go to your local sports betting shop and ask the manager to provide you with special odds.

Now you can open your phone and have access to odds that change minute-by-minute based on team news, weather forecasts, and a myriad of other reasons. That’s thanks to AI and machine learning.

Most sportsbooks utilize AI and machine learning to come up with odds for some of their more niche markets. This gives customers accurate, up to date and fair odds and allows companies to branch out into more diverse betting markets.

Safety: To use the 1980s analogy once again there was little recourse if things went wrong with an unscrupulous provider. Nowadays the technology used by online sportsbooks is so safe and reliable that issues regarding withdrawals and deposits are incredibly rare.

Blockchain: This brings us on to our final technological pointer; crypto-betting. You might not have heard of it before, but it is definitely happening, and for good reason too! Many leading sportsbooks are utilizing Blockchain technology to allow their customers to pay with crypto.

This makes the incredibly safe process of depositing and withdrawing funds with an online sportsbook even safer

All in all, the online sports betting industry is using the minutiae of technology to better enhance the safety and security of its playing base. The biggest impactor on the industry though has been the smartphone. Without it, it’s hard to imagine a world in which Pennsylvania would be posting monthly sports betting revenues of nearly $100 million.

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