What’s next for UK sports betting?

Sports betting has long been popular in the UK, who readily wager on the outcome of their favourite matches and races every week.

In recent years, the rise of sports betting in the UK has been meteoric, thanks mainly to advancements in technology and the broader use of mobile phones and tablets.

sports betting UKTo illustrate this, The Guardian reported that a further rise in gambling during COVID-19 lockdowns saw industry giants turn even more remarkable profits than usual. Entain, for instance, the company that owns Coral and Ladbrokes, reported a profit of £175 million at the end of 2020, which saw a 28% increase in online gambling revenue from 2019. This is coupled with the fact that the online betting industry as a whole rose from revenues of £1 billion in 2016 to over £3 billion in 2020.

It seems, then, that sports betting is as popular now as it has ever been, and with an increasing number of new betting companies entering the sector, it’s important to ask – what’s next for sports betting?

Tighter regulation

It appears that a new sports betting website enters the market every month. As such, people are keen to look to new sites for better odds and increased value, particularly in the form of attractive welcome bonuses and ongoing promotions. So it’s no coincidence that sometime this year, several changes are likely to be passed in relation to the 2005 Gambling Act that will see the tightening of regulations across the sector. This will likely see the inclusion of responsible gambling tools and certain stake limits that will affect the betting behaviour of punters.

There’s also talk of instituting changes to how sports betting websites are allowed to market their services. Presently, TV adverts and football shirts are plastered with marketing from sports betting companies advertising their brands and current free betting offers, but this might change soon. As such, the marketing prowess of sports betting companies might be diminished, which may yet alter the regularity with which people place their bets.

Different payment options

In 2020, the UK Gambling Commission outlawed the use of credit cards as a means to fund deposits on sports betting websites. This is a move that was welcomed by many, as it is seen as a progressive step towards lessening the negative impact of problem gambling and ensures that people aren’t able to work up ludicrous debts by betting on sports at home.

Most online sportsbooks offer customers a wide range of payment options, including debit cards and bank transfers, as well as a series of e-wallet choices like PayPal and Neteller. Perhaps most interestingly, however, is the industry’s switch to cryptocurrency as a viable payment option. Some online gambling firms already offer their customers the chance to deposit funds with cryptocurrencies, which affords them greater anonymity and a range of other benefits.

It will be interesting, then, to see the future direction that most online sportsbooks take regarding deposits and withdrawals and whether cryptocurrencies will become increasingly popular with punters in the coming years.

Increased virtual sports betting opportunities

Despite the vast amount of sports and markets for punters to choose from as things stand, betting companies have started to introduce virtual sports betting as a way to expand their offer even further. If you’re not aware of the concept, virtual sports betting is a form of wagering that depends on computer-simulated matches and events. Currently, sports betting sites offer a range of virtual sports, including football, tennis, horseracing, and greyhound racing.

The outcome of a virtual match is determined by RNG [Random Number Generator] software – the same software used by online casinos for their slot machine and table games. As we see more and more sports betting companies enter the market and as virtual reality technology improves, we’re likely to see a significant increase in the popularity of virtual sports betting. Bookmakers will see it as an excellent opportunity to increase their bottom line, as they will present gamblers with round the clock opportunities to bet on the sport of their choice.

The verdict

To summarise, the future is bright for sports betting. Despite tighter regulation imposed by the UK Gambling Commission, further advances in technology are likely to make the industry even more immersive and enjoyable for gamblers. It will also be interesting to see whether cryptocurrency takes off as a deposit and withdrawal option, as people come to realise the many benefits of utilising this new payment method.