Sports betting and gambling is full of risk for the players as well as for the operators. How could technology help to reduce and mitigate financial risk and fraud? Three years ago, the US Supreme Court struck down the law prohibiting states from authorizing legal gambling on American Football games. And since then, the NFL has embraced betting. This season, that’s more apparent than ever.
This year, several teams will introduce betting lounges, commercials for several bookmakers such as WynnBet, DraftKings, and FanDuel will air during the game broadcasts, and according to the statistics from the American Gambling Association, over 45 million people in the US will be placing a bet this season. That’s 36 percent higher than last year. So, it’s no surprise that the NFL’s estimated revenue from sports betting and deals this season is $270 million.
Sports betting is not the same all around the world
Across the pond, however, a very different picture is emerging. Despite the country’s somewhat liberal gambling laws, the UK government is considering reducing the number of gambling ads in football or even banning them altogether. Of course, not all gambling is the same. Regulations for online casinos are often very different from laws for sports betting or esports betting.
Their concerns aren’t baseless. Now, more kids than ever are exposed to adverts that aren’t legally deemed “suitable” to them, including online casino and betting ads. And given how accessible betting has become with the Internet’s availability, more people, young and old, are at risk of issues brought about by gambling, such as addiction, security concerns, etc. This is particularly relevant given the findings that the appeal is being “in the zone” for most gamblers rather than winning big. However, AdTech and other technology can make sports betting and gambling safer.
We have previously written about how 5G can affect sports betting in the future. There’s no reason why its advancements can’t support the prevention of gambling addiction and mitigate other risks, especially during the big games when the use of sports betting apps would be at its highest. Below are some more ideas as to how the risks associated with sports betting and gambling in the digital age can be mitigated with tech solutions.
To verify that a user is of legal gambling age, apps can use a combination of a government ID verification and a video call. Double verification, where an AI system compares the government ID’s photo with the person on the video call, can prevent underage users from uploading someone else’s ID onto the app.
User’s age verification already exists in regular casinos – they don’t let underaged people in such venues anywhere in the world. By equating online casinos with their offline counterparts in such a way, bookmakers would be able to ensure that children don’t access their apps illegally, thus avoiding possible legal and other risks.
This method of dual verification can protect underage people – but it can do little for adults who are not gambling responsibly.
Gambling risk awareness
Another feature that could help reduce the risks is making users aware of the risks as soon as they open a betting app. Providers can achieve this, for example, way of a pop-up message or a large-sized link to a webpage about the dangers of gambling and local helplines. It could be similar to the warnings on cigarette packs and alcohol containers.
Studies have shown that such pop-up messages do have an impact – but it’s limited. A recent study conducted by Nantes University involved participants who used their own online gambling accounts being shown four brief pop-up messages during the game informing participants of the nature and risks of gambling, including potential negative consequences and self-appraisals like “Have you spent more money than you intended?”. The results have shown the limited effect of such messages, which tells us that they would only work when accompanied by other solutions – tech and others.
There are plenty of apps aimed at increasing productivity by limiting usage of social media and other online procrastination tools. One of such apps is AppDetox, which works to enable “digital detox” by letting you set the rules for your usage of apps, such as time limits. Programs like AppDetox can be used to limit how much you’re using a sports betting app.
The advantage of this feature lies in how “techy” it is – after all, it’s tricky to impose such a limit inside a brick-and-mortar casino. So, it can be argued that apps that restrict the time you spend in online casinos can actually make gambling safer. For instance, if an American Football fan is concerned about how much time they might spend on the betting app during a single match, they can tweak the settings to limit that time and get an alert just before their time is up.
However, BetMGM representative Richard Taylor confirmed that “the challenge is how do we get people to actually use these things.” He linked it to seatbelt usage – if people don’t use the available safety tool, it’s of little benefit to them.
While the analogy isn’t lost on me, regulating the usage of betting apps would be pretty different from regulating using a seatbelt – the latter is mandatory in many places, and it would be challenging for lawmakers to regulate how much time people spend on specific apps. Therefore, having a limiting tool within the app should be combined with other strategies – including technical ones on this list and awareness campaigns and the like.
Limitation to betting funds
Another thing betting apps can do is to allow users to select a limit of how much they’re willing to bet per game or per season. Once they’ve reached that limit, the app can lock them out for the rest of the day.
Similar to time-limiting apps, imposing limitations on funds is potentially much harder in offline casinos. After all, you can’t make someone take only a certain amount of money to such a place. And there is evidence that a system like that can work. In the 2010s, South Korea introduced the mandatory electronic players’ card (EPC) to horse betting venues, which prohibited large-scale betting.
However, it would be tricky to convince betting companies to go for this innovation as it could easily lead to a drop in profits.
As you can see, tech solutions can work to mitigate risks associated with online gambling and sports betting – but not in a vacuum. To make sure they’re as effective as possible, bookmakers have to combine the tech tools with other instruments, such as awareness campaigns. If you’re looking to learn more, you can also watch the video below with SBC’s Managing Director, Andrew McCarron, and Cathryn Lai of Scientific Games.
If you think you might have a problem with gambling, don’t suffer in silence. We at TechAcute prioritize the mental health and wellbeing of our readers. Contact one of the numbers here to talk to someone and get the support that you need.
YouTube: Future For Sports Betting Technology in the US
Photo credit: The feature image has been done by Javier Brosch. The photo in the body of the article was taken by Oleksii Nazaruk.
Source: NFL / AGA / InsideHook / David Purdum (ESPN) / Ben Strauss, Mark Maske ( Washington Post) / Rob Davies (Guardian) / Jeff Bell (Forbes) / Forza Italian Football / Gary Rotstein (USBETS) / Peter Dizikes (MIT News Office) / Mathematical Problems in Engineering, vol. 2021 / Frontiers in Psychiatry