Sports betting is a ridiculously huge business. Some estimations put the worth of American betting business around 150 billion US dollars a year. And even if that number is incorrect (it is almost impossible to give a true estimate due to black-market betting), we can’t deny that we, as human beings, are drawn to the possibility of doubling or tripling our wealth by a simple click – as well as the thrill of taking a risk. All betting is essentially betting on ourselves: we have to trust that we are the smartest in the room and we know the most about the given game’s outcome.
Sometimes we win, sometimes we are brought back to reality. No matter our personal results, sports betting has been around for a while and it’s here to stay – but we might be able to improve some of the problems it is currently facing.
The problems of today’s online betting platforms
“If you must play, decide upon three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time” says a Chinese proverb and it stands true in our modern world as well. (Or maybe just enough people forgot to give credit to the originator of the quote and the Internet as a whole decided to roll with it as a Chinese proverb. We don’t know, there is not public ledger for quotes to see where they originate from unfortunately).
And while we can promise ourselves that we will abide by the rules, it is not always the case for betting platforms. The House always wins, sure. But the House can also be a little shady and wishy-washy with the rules it has set up for the users and themselves.
One of the biggest and most often recurring problems of online sports betting is that the platform can always find excuses to why it needs to bend the rules – and why it will eventually pay less or nothing at all in some cases. Falsely generated odds, errors in line setting and incorrect data are always the risk-factors in online betting as long as the data is handled in a centralized way, only available to check by the platform itself.
Is blockchain the solution for sports betting?
But does it have to be centralized? Or maybe the decentralized blockchain could bring some changes about that would benefit every bettor? Blockchain, along with cryptocurrencies, have managed to bring a lot of positive changes into a wide range of fields – from cross-border payments to improving public health by tracking the origins of certain foods. If we are being really buzzword-y, we could even say that blockchain is here to disrupt. But can online sports betting be disrupted? Or more importantly: should we disrupt it?
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Why sports betting needs blockchain
Using a verifiable and unchangeable ledger of transactions is one of the main reasons why more and more industries decide to integrate blockchain into their systems. The data on this ledger can’t be tampered with – no post-bet adjustments or anything of that kind. Sports betting is in serious need of transparency: transparency between the platforms and the users in order to avoid lost winnings for users, and really bad media coverage for the betting platforms.
Another great thing about blockchain technology, is the use of smart contracts. By using these, the users of online betting sites no longer have to put their trust in a centralized systems. The automatically created smart contracts take care of that for them. It can also be utilized if platforms offer personalized betting where the bettors can create bets themselves – setting the rules and the stakes and then actually abiding by them for once.
The transparency and decentralized nature of blockchain technology also offers way better security features for betting sites. And while the question of security might not the biggest concern (there haven’t been any big leaks so far concerning betting sites) but they do have a lot of very sensitive information – an extra layer of security is never a bad thing.
One other problem that betting sites sometimes face is withdrawal and deposit delays. Sporting events, especially championship finals, usually line up in a way that the finishing minutes of multiple games overlap – let’s just think about March Madness. This leads to an increased amount of bets that have to be paid out at almost the same time which can easily mean late and delayed cash-outs. Using cryptowallets and payments, the funds can almost immediately be withdrawn, easing the overcrowded last minutes of traditional betting sites.
Betting in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies
And if we are on the topic of cryptocurrencies: one extra advantage in using those in betting is the reduced fees associated with transferring funds. Not only is crypto cheaper to send and receive in general, it can be especially beneficial for international and cross-border transactions. As a huge part of the sports market is Americanized, an increasing amount of international viewers and bettors are trying to bet on the big four in the US – football, baseball, basketball and hockey. (Don’t bet on hockey though – that sport is way too random to bet on.) Using bitcoin, for example, a cryptocurrency that is not connected to any nationstate, can be the most effective way for bettors in different countries to bet on these sports.
Betting is never going to be perfect – but it can and should be better
Betting has other problems as well; problems that not even blockchain could solve. Gambling addictions, illegal bets and minors taking part in betting are all huge problems that we as a society has to tackle – with betting platforms taking the lead and making sure they do everything in their power to put a stop to them. We are also not trying to convince anyone that betting is all sunshine and rainbows where the only dark cloud is the platform itself. Betting is not for everyone and placing a bet is something that needs careful consideration.
With that being said, there are issues in betting that can be improved and solved. Transparency and lower fees are both achievable changes, especially with the help of blockchain and smart contracts. There is no reason why we should not want to improve in these areas.
And sure, the House always wins. Today, it is both true and a good excuse when you end up losing. But even if there is no way to make sure that we never lose again, there is a way to stop the House from always winning. Let’s make it happen.