It was a year of firsts for operators, as technological advances provided a platform for innovation to improve the overall betting experience.
The year saw the creation of new betting platforms, the introduction of cryptocurrencies and blockchains as well as the development of instant withdrawal capacities for Irish bookmakers.
For the first time, FIFA rolled out the tournament-wide use if video assistant referees (VAR) at this summer’s Russia World Cup. The technology was designed to aid match officials in making what could potentially be match-changing decisions.
Dedicated off-side cameras were put in place, and a carefully selected VAR team watched cameras around the clock to ensure match fairness.
It was also introduced by the Football Association (FA) to primarily spot major mistakes that occur during the match, this includes key offside calls which are judged wrongly. Following its trial, the FA has confirmed that VAR will be fully implemented in the Premier League next season.
Sky Bet aimed to utilise new technology to elevate social betting, back in July, when the operator announced the launch of its new feature ‘Group Betting’ which allowed its customers to form ‘community accumulators’ . The new feature meant that ‘a group of friends to create a Group in which they build a Group Bet (Accumulator) by each member of the group making one selection each’.
Andy Evans, Principal Product Manager, Sky Bet said that: “The idea of Group Bets came through the internal CoLab project that we ran earlier this year. We then tested it with customers and found that a large number were already doing this with their friends either physically when together or digitally through messenger apps etc.
“Essentially we’ve taken a behaviour that already exists and created an experience that satisfies users’ needs and simplifies that activity for them. We’re still in a Beta phase, but the aim is see how customers respond to what we’ve done so far and see what it is that interests them most.”
The announcement was a first for betting operators, giving customers the chance to modify market selections once the betslip has been transferred to a personal account.
It has proven to increase sociability, and the feature has considerable room for expansion which will give punters the opportunity to potentially interact via betting groups further in the future. It is expected that betting operators will follow suit with a similar feature in the near future.
Meanwhile in December, Boylesports also claimed an Irish first with the launch of ‘Same Day Withdrawals’ capabilities, becoming Ireland’s first bookmaker to process instant e-payments transactions.
Aoife Heffron, Spokesperson for Boylesports commented: “Our customers asked, and we have listened! We are thrilled to announce that our industry-leading Same Day Withdrawals feature is now live ad available to all BoyleSports customers.
“Our brand new instant-pay-out option allows customers to withdraw their winnings with the click of a button and have it in their account the same day with most transactions only taking a couple of hours.”
Previously, customers were forced to wait for the industry standard of two to three working days to withdraw into their bank balance. The new withdrawal option now operates 24/7, 365 days a year and was a means of trying to enhance customer service for the Irish bookmaker – a considerable leap forward compared to waiting for cash withdrawals.
BetConstruct explored the use of blockchains in betting back in November, after launching its first all-in-one fully decentralised and Ethereum based blockchain solution, Fasttoken. The platform provides “100% transparency, security and fairness to all involved parties – players, game providers, operators and affiliates”.
The solution was designed to minimise transaction costs, eliminate latency and lag inside of a gaming session, and to boost scalability by moving the actual gaming process of the main chain. The technological advances mean that customers are able to audit every move made in their gaming session to assess fairness, while enjoying multiple games simultaneously.
Blockchain usage in sports betting means that payment methods are simplified down to directing funds from your digital wallet to place a sports bet digitally, and then receiving payouts back into your digital wallet.
It is a positive move for operators as it improves transparency across the betting industry, as the decentralised technology offers a type of digital transparency between betting platforms that had previously not existed.
“Trust takes years to build up, and seconds to lose. That is why today we are building the casino of the future. By applying blockchain solutions in gambling, we deliver an exclusive chance to enjoy wagering without the sine qua non of the trust factor,” said Vigen Badalyan, BetConstruct Founder and CEO.
He added: “As a result of more than 15 years of experience in the igaming industry and our work, we have gained hundreds of loyal partners, many of whom are already preparing to recognize Fasttoken as their cryptocurrency.”