Legalized betting combined with smart phones could result in billions in new gambling revenue — with one significant caveat.
In-game microwagering likely will proliferate as states adopt sports betting, with fans able while sitting at the stadium to place wagers on the outcome of the next play (in football), the outcome of the next pitch (in baseball), or various other what-happens-next propositions in other sports. The money generated by those games will explode if it’s not simply part of the in-stadium experience, but something that fans can experience while watching the action from home.
But that’s where it gets tricky. Currently, there’s a lag between the place where the event is occurring and the place where the event is being televised. Allowing for some degree of latency would invite shenanigans if, for example, a guy in Topeka has a guy in AT&T Stadium who can text instantaneously the outcome of the next play, allowing guy in Topeka to beat the system with inside information.
The demand for real-time play-by-play wagering at home could (and should) drive the technological advances necessary to permit the same kind of real-time picture-and-sound transmission that currently occurs between NFL game sites and 345 Park Avenue during replay review, with no delay of any kind. What the person sees at home will be happening at the exact same time in the building, no matter how far away.
That kind of technology (which may not be cheap for the ultimate consumer, but if the ultimate consumer wants to bet during games it will simply be a cost of doing business) would essentially amount to a sports betting Big Bang, allowing the universe of potential bets and potential bettors to continuously expand.
The networks have a clear interest in developing and implementing such technologies ASAP, given that new broadcast contracts will become effective in 2022 (for Monday Night Football) and 2023 (for all other packages). Having the ability to deliver images with immediacy will lay the foundation for the placement of bets between whistle and snap, resulting in more people watching, more people betting, and everyone making more money.
This also will hold the audience in place, giving fans fewer reasons to stray during lulls in the action, since they’ll be scanning the available options for the next bet they’ll be placing, before the next play begins.
However sports betting shakes out, every sports league and network that televises sports should be immediately figuring out how to deliver real-time action, since it will be the best (and perhaps only) way to enjoy real-time action from home.