Welcome to the second part of Delasport’s deep dive into sports betting through the ages. In part 1, the sports betting and igaming software solutions provider covered the early days from the first bookie to the engagement years of the 2000s. Let’s pick up the story.
While the early incarnation of sports betting sites served their purpose, the increasing amount of information that they conveyed to their players meant that in many cases they didn’t look too great, ran slowly, and were cumbersome to interact with. With endless tables, charts, tabs, buttons, and lists all competing for attention, operators had to once again change with the times to keep punters on board.
The 2000s were all about getting the edge on the competition and offering faster, easier, and deeper experiences. And, with the proliferation of popular payment gateways, faster deposits and withdrawals, and faster settlement of wagers, the sky was the limit.
Products and functionality
Another major milestone in online sports betting was the introduction of peer-to-peer betting (bet exchange) by Betfair (launched in 2000), where instead of betting directly with the operator, players could instead wager with each other. This was an important development as it hailed the beginning of a new era of online sports betting, where players connected and began to form communities.
Just a couple of years later in 2002, live betting made its way to the market. By being able to place bets while an event was happening, players were given a whole new way to engage with the sports they were betting on, adding new dimensions of excitement and win potential.
And, as part of this, bonusing and promotional features went through their own evolution. In the following years, players saw increased features including elements such as:
Cashback and cash-drops on losses
Enhanced odds / Odds Boosters
Live streaming of events
2007: Mobile takes center stage
In 2007, Apple launched the iPhone, and with it a whole new world of possibilities for the always-connected user. As phones continued to iterate on their design, so did applications. Smartphones are also more accessible than any other technological device available today, resulting in an influx of newcomers. And because smartphones already account for over 80% of all internet traffic, the numbers will only grow.
With a whole new set of devices to cater to, UX was once again in the picture as smaller screens needed to portray as much information as possible. Operators across the land scrambled to tap into the mobile market before it got too big, with the frontrunners establishing their foothold amongst fierce competition.
2010: Sports coverage
To stay on the right side of customer experiences, operators in recent years have moved to become more generalist, meaning that they offer casino alongside their sportsbook, and vice versa. However, being a generalist doesn’t mean that such offerings must be shallow.
As the 2000s moved on to the next decade and mobile adoption rates increased, operators turned their attention towards offering more sports. As well as the usual tournaments, players could engage with more niche events according to their needs, and what was once made up of a handful of events soon turned into dozens. For the first time, players could wager on the NFL, British regional soccer, ice hockey, snooker, and others all at the same time – if seasonality allowed.
2011: Enter Esports
Electronic Sports (also known as Esports) have risen from a niche following to become a significant disruptor of traditional sports, entertainment, and gambling businesses. The worldwide Esports industry was valued at just over $1.08bn in 2021 (up about 50% from the previous year) and is expected to continue to expand in tandem with technical and social advancements.
The gambling industry has taken notice, with the total sum wagered on Esports matches anticipated to reach $16bn in the coming years. While the first gaming leagues began in 2006, it was the entrance of the streaming platform, Twitch in 2011 that pushed game streaming heavily into the mainstream, and Esports along with it.
Major mergers and acquisitions
As the sports betting market matured, the industry followed the same path as any other with a slew of major mergers and acquisitions. Business was going well for the biggest players in the market to the point where they could afford to buy out some of the competition.
Buyer: Flutter Entertainment
Company: William Hill (UK and EU assets)
Company: Golden Nugget Online Gaming
Company: Score Media and Gaming
Buyer: Penn National Gaming
Company: William Hill
Buyer: Caesars Entertainment
Price: £2.9bn ($3.72bn)
Company: The Stars Group
Buyer: Flutter Entertainment
Company: Mr Green
Buyer: William Hill
Company: Paddy Power
Buyer: Paddy Power Betfair
Buyer: Scientific Games
Company: Bwin Party
Today: sportsbooks become flexible
Today, sports betting is an incredibly lucrative, exciting, and competitive space. As operators continue to defend their engagement rates and attract new players, online sportsbooks have significantly evolved when compared to their days on paper. As such, an entirely new industry has emerged to provide operators with a flexible solution.
For example, Delasport offers a complete turnkey solution with a one-stop-shop sportsbook that operators can utilize to manage their entire operation. The plug&play sportsbook iframe suits casino operators that own their platform and want to quickly add a full sportsbook product.