The sports gambling industry has expanded significantly in the past couple of years, boosted, in no small part, by the reversal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) by the US Supreme Court. That led to more than 20 states in the country creating their own legal sports gambling markets since May 2018 and, within two more years, it is predicted that there will be close to 40 states with their own markets.
This increase in activity is fueling a new era of growth in the technology that supports the industry, and the introduction of 5G technology for mobile networks is expected to be a catalyst for even larger growth. Gaming industry executive Adam Bjorn sees great things on the horizon breaks down what the introduction of 5G technology means to the online sports gambling market.
In areas where mobile sports gambling has been authorized, this segment has proven to be far more robust than in-person sports gambling, with virtually no exception. In New Jersey, for example, mobile wagers accounted for 82% of all bets placed in 2019, and this figure had already risen to 87% as the new year came around. Similar outcomes have been seen in other states, including Indiana, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Tennessee, which was the first state to offer an online-only sports gambling market.
Explains Bjorn, “With 80% of all sports bets now being placed ‘in-play’ and via a mobile or handheld device, 5G is only going to drive this number up and the amounts of bets overall placed to a new level. Latency of data and odds conversions restricts players to be able to bet without a delay and can cause rates of 25-30% of bets being rejected based on odds change errors alone. The future with 5G is supposedly about Speed, speed and more speed. With the amount of data that’s now being collected by all of the sports and their leagues, means with the additional speed, it will become more realistic to offer an infinite amount of product and bet type expansion that will only help drive more bets, more volume and at the end of the day drive up the GGR of the industry.”
Having reliable, fast Internet access is obviously key to ensuring a superior customer experience when users are on the Web, and 5G is helping to facilitate that. 5G offers a vastly greater amount of bandwidth than any of its predecessors, which means more users can interact simultaneously with the same site across the same network. In addition, 5G offers a “seismic” reduction in latency, or essentially the response time between the user and the target site.
The greater amount of bandwidth isn’t just good news for sports gamblers in general, but also for those attending live events in a stadium or arena. With the potential for finding tens of thousands, or more, of people all vying for bandwidth off a single cell tower, providing more bandwidth decreases congestion and will all fans at games to participate in more wagering options, as well. NFL fans got a taste of this earlier this year, when Verizon put 5G in Miami and Hard Rock Stadium for Super Bowl LIV.
A reduction in latency as significant as that brought about by 5G means that users can receive up-to-the-second data they can use to place their bets and have them registered in record time. It also means that online sportsbooks can offer in-game, live wagers, through which gamblers can place bets, for example, on if the next play of a football game is going to be intercepted or if a certain player in a basketball game will attempt a three-pointer on his next shot.
The numbers support the ability for 5G to be a transformative technology for the mobile sports gambling industry. With more data available for comparative studies, 70% of the sports wagers out of the UK are traditionally made after the sports event has begun. The same is expected to be seen as sports gambling in the US grows in popularity, and the rollout of 5G technology by mobile telecommunications operators will facilitate that growth.
5G isn’t just being implemented in the US – it is making its way to China, Switzerland, Spain, the UK and more. With download speeds that are reported to be up to 100 times faster than those seen with 4G, the technology opens new possibilities for mobile carriers and users everywhere.
While it has yet to be included on the majority of smartphones, this is going to change over the next couple of years, just as the access to 5G networks is going to change.