Sometimes it seems that everybody is talking about cryptocurrencies. It’s all Bitcoin this and Ethereum that. Crypto has been around long enough that it’s definitely not a flash in the pan. The fact that so many retailers now accept various cryptocurrencies is a sure sign that they’re here to stay. No industry has taken to crypto quite as enthusiastically as sports betting and it is already changing the way we do online gambling.
First off, what even is a cryptocurrency? Basically, it’s a form of digital money. It doesn’t exist in physical format. The key to making cryptocurrency work is its distributed ledger. In the ‘real’ world, federal reserves set a value on money. Your £5 note is worth five pounds because that’s what the Bank of England says. We have systems that everybody uses to agree what money is worth.
With cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, there is no single central authority. The system earns its trust because all transactions are recorded on a central ledger, and that ledger is spread out across many sites.
Savvy consumers and sites
Gambling sites were the first to realise just how useful this sort of currency could be. Using cryptocurrencies means that tricky legal restrictions based on geography can be avoided, particularly in the USA. Players are able to bet anonymously without having to connect their personal details, and because of the low cost of transaction, payments can be made almost instantly.
It wasn’t just gambling sites that were quick to get on board. As soon as players cottoned on to the benefits of using cryptocurrencies, they started to make the switch. Getting started in crypto can be a bit of a challenge, but once you’re set up you’re good to go.
Not surprisingly, this perfect storm has led to a boom in online crypto gambling sites. In the UK, especially, online gambling is on the rise as brick and mortar bookies shut down. The remote gambling sector makes up 35% of the total gambling market. Crypto is only a small proportion of that, but as more consumers realise that it’s as anonymous as cash and as easy as pushing a button, it will only grow. On the other side of the pond, American gamblers love crypto because it avoids the confusing legal landscape.
More sports, more choice
With the cost of transaction so low, crypto sports betting sites can add dozens and dozens of sports and matches. As long as there is a way to find out an official result (an incorporated league or governing body), even the most obscure match from the outer suburbs of Perth can be bet on.
The great thing about sports betting like this is that it can be low risk. Betting small amounts from a finite digital wallet means it’s more a spot of fun than high stakes. Punters don’t have to understand volleyball to be able to bet on it.
Betting on esports is also growing in popularity. Punters can use their Bitcoin to bet on a Counter Strike game between two teams of Korean teenagers. What a time to be alive.
Without a doubt, more sports will be added as crypto betting increases in popularity. There are no stats yet, but it’s likely that an increase in betting may lead to greater visibility for some of these sports. In particular, junior leagues and women’s sports could benefit from more interest. It’s all about following the money.
When it comes to sports betting, cryptocurrency isn’t leading the way yet. But the landscape is definitely changing because of the rise of crypto. It’s only a matter of time before crypto changes sports betting – and sports – forever.