It is clear that the online sports betting industry is in rude health, a number of new technical developments, allied to the increased awareness of newer betting markets alongside more traditional and popular forms of betting, means that the industry is undergoing another boom period.
So as we take a look ahead to 2019, we are going to take a guess at what will be some of the most important and popular sports betting markets and developments we can look forward to throughout the year, with a particular focus on what is becoming one of the most important areas for any online sports betting service; Virtual Sports.
With that, what better place to begin our look at the year ahead.
- Increased Virtual Sports betting services and offers
A report into the state of the UK online sports betting industry last year revealed that in terms of generation of revenue, Virtual Sports betting is now third behind only soccer and horse racing in terms of cash generated for online sites. That means more money is wagered in the UK on Virtual Sports than there is on sports like cricket, golf, tennis, basketball, American Football, greyhound racing or indeed many other traditional forms of sport.
Given that Virtual Sports is still pretty much in its infancy, I think that 2019 will see continued development of the Virtual Sports scene. Both in terms of an increasing number of customers opting to give Virtual Sports a go compared to standard sports betting, and also in the number, quality and depth of detail provided in Virtual Sports games.
The first generation of Virtual Sports have proven to be hugely successful, but these games are by and large somewhat simplistic and only offer a relatively small number of betting markets compared to a real-life football game for example. By adding context for games (such as including them as part of a tournament or league), you can increase the potential for the number of bets available on these games.
I also feel that 2019 will see the introduction of some new Virtual Sports too. We know that there are a number of companies now competing to offer the ‘next generation’ of Virtual Sports games to customers and I think that 2019 will see the first of these newer games start to come through. Some of these newer games are already available on some sites (Coral Sport for example).
I also feel that there is plenty of scope for an increase in the number of promotions available for Virtual Sports. Many companies do offer Virtual Sports promotions, although these do tend to be somewhat ad-hoc and few sites have a long term Virtual Sports promotion available. I think over time, this may well change and you will see more and more sites offering Virtual Sports related promotions and content, both as a standalone Virtual Sports offering as well as a cross-site promotional offer (such as betting £5 on real sports to receive a £5 Virtual Sport bet).
- Continued development of Esports betting
Although many people often assume Virtual Sports betting and Esports betting are the same thing, they are in fact two very different spheres of the betting industry. While Virtual Sports is about computer generated sports events, Esports is about betting on human players or teams competing against other human players or teams on some of the most popular computer games in the world today.
There is a burgeoning esports betting scene developing across the globe, aided by the availability of esports via live streaming services, both on sports betting sites, as well as on streaming services such as Twitch TV.
Over the last few years the number of esports available to bet on has increased, together with the number of markets available on these big esports and events. More events are also available to bet on too, as the esports industry has grown in size and scope.
I see 2019 as a big year for esports betting, especially with the proposed formation of the e-Premier League and the e-Champions League also coming, which could usher in more opportunities for punters to enjoy a bet on these exciting new forms of betting.
- Development of more interactive methods of betting
What is abundantly clear in the online betting industry at present is that presenting a player with a choice of bets is one thing but allowing them to create their own markets is where companies are really investing lots of time and money.
The proliferation of the ‘create-your-bet’ type facilities, where punters can combine a number of popular bets into one larger multiple selection bet, has been marked over the last 12 months in particular and I can see this being developed still further in 2019.
At the moment, these types of bets tend to be available on selected sports only, most notably football in the UK and for that matter, it tends to be the top level games in the Premier League and Champions League, which see these types of bets most freely available.
I think in 2019, we will continue to see this market develop, with more create your bet type offers available and the chance to make more of these bets on an increasing number of sports, particularly those sports which attract similar kinds of bets to football betting (such as Darts or American Football betting).
I think eventually, we will see this type of betting extended to cover the majority of sports betting options available in the UK and eventually it may also creep into the esports betting and Virtual Sports betting markets too.
The online betting industry may have seen an initial boom followed by a period of generally smaller growth but there is no sign that this growth is slowing, especially with the creative and imaginative new ways these companies are creating in order to offer punters new and exciting ways to bet online. I think 2019 will only see this develop still further and as such, the year ahead looks exciting for all sports betting enthusiasts.