The numbers don’t lie. The sports betting industry continues to grow astronomically as a subset of the already robust worldwide gambling ecosystem. In mid-2021, sports betting alone comprised about 40% of the estimated $67 billion global betting industry.
Numbers have swelled for a couple of reasons. First, an increasingly digitized world means many more are gambling and betting online in general, only enhanced with a wide range of easy-to-use applications and platforms.
The 2018 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to end federal bans on sports betting also helped the industry explode in popularity. October 2021 alone brought nearly $7 billion in sports bets across the United States.
Sports Betting Evolves From A Side Focus To A Massive Worldwide Industry
The Supreme Court decision also helped usher in a new era for sports betting that has only been enhanced as the world grows more digitized. In past years, sports betting was often seen as an ‘add-on’ as casinos and gaming establishments focused on table games and slot machines. In a world flush with technology, sports betters now remain interested in more immersive experiences where they can interact with others while relying on live video, statistics, and news to make their decisions.
While some platforms choose to build exclusive communities or interactive tools to maintain an edge over the competition, others are willing to try out cutting-edge technologies like the metaverse to build a more social sports betting scene.
Late January 2022 brought an announcement from Entain, a global sports betting and gambling company, about a metaverse investment. The company revealed plans to allocate $133 million to build an innovation lab to focus on metaverse entertainment experiences. A growing number of legacy companies are focused on metaverse-related endeavors, but many argue the digital ecosystem could have the largest impact on sports.
Epyllion Co. managing partner Matthew Ball explains how the metaverse could help teams sell tickets to games and activities even if the actual physical stadium was completely full.
In his eyes, the metaverse transforms the experience of watching games as “rather than being stranded on a couch, fans will have the opportunity to view a game more like they are in the stands. In fact, everyone could one day have the best seats in the house, with their fantasy score or live bets shown on the jumbotron.”
Understanding The Social Engagement The Metaverse Can Provide
The immense social potential of the metaverse is what makes it so potentially transformative for the sports betting world. While live casinos can offer players the opportunity to interact with others and chat with the ‘host,’ a lot of traditional betting platforms provide a more solitary experience where users just log on to place bets and then leave.
Hopes are that the metaverse can turn sports betting into an interactive, engaging experience and harness the time of millions across the world who already spend hours each day on their laptops and cell phones. Many betting companies are also looking for strategies to cultivate younger generations who are already well-familiar with the digital world and are comfortable with interacting with friends and family across multiple devices.
Rivalry co-founder and CEO Steven Salz argues the metaverse will lead to a more entertainment-based and social gambling experience where average transaction frequencies will rise, even if sizes go down.
In his eyes, the metaverse potentially represents an opportunity to attract gamblers who are “simply looking for ways to better tie their digital identity and experiences to their betting experiences.”
As the betting market in the U.S. continues to mature, many within the industry understand they need to adapt and change to keep up with other forms of interactive entertainment.
Sports betting platforms understand they need to combine smart technology, live information, and a useful platform to attract users, but also need to focus on customer retention strategies and brand loyalty. The vast potential of the metaverse to build and craft immersive and sophisticated social experiences has not been lost on companies within the sports betting world who are interested in riding the continued popularity wave of both real (and virtual) sports.
Questions remain about the metaverse as many companies view the virtual space in different lights. Others wonder if the concept will even take off as companies like Facebook seemingly issue contradictory statements on their metaverse plans.
However, many sports betting companies see the metaverse as a market opportunity to usher in a more social and interactive gambling experience and are willing to engage with the technology to stand apart in a crowded, and ever-changing digital world.