eSport, cryptocurrency and live sports betting – they are three of the hottest topics in tech right now, and a new offering from Sony could bring all three together – right there on your PlayStation. It would represent a dramatic departure from conventional eSport betting and could also herald an exciting new use case for game consoles at a time when many are questioning their continued relevance in the 2020s.
What’s in a name?
Sony has come up with the less-than-imaginative moniker of “E-Sports Betting Platform” for its new application and filed a patent on May 13 under Patent Number US 2021/0142624. The patent describes a system whereby users can bet currency or digital assets on the outcome of eSport games with the odds automatically calculated using a machine learning algorithm.
Specifically, the patent describes: “a method that includes establishing odds for at least one future event in a computer simulation and overlaying onto at least one presentation of the computer simulation at least one user interface (UI) showing the odds and indicating the event to permit a viewer to select to bet on the future event occurring or not.”
To translate that into plain English, it envisages software that can monitor what’s happening in the current game, compare it with what’s happened before and present odds on the likelihood of different outcomes – all in real time.
Live betting from an unexpected direction
The above will immediately resonate with anyone in the habit of betting on more traditional sports like football or tennis. It is describing nothing more and nothing less than live or in-play betting, a phenomenon that is currently taking the online sports books by storm. It allows punters to keep placing bets on a game while it is being played out, and the odds shift as each team or player’s fortunes ebb and flow.
Sports bettors can’t get enough of it, and with eSport being one of the fastest growing areas of sports betting, it takes no great leap of the imagination to see that combining the two will be both popular and highly profitable.
Just add crypto
The third ingredient is Bitcoin. From the moment it appeared on the scene a little more than a decade ago, there has been a sense of Bitcoin being a solution desperately in search of a problem. Of course, there have been those who have made hideous sums of money through trading crypto – and others who have recorded similarly eye-watering losses. However, practical applications have been thin on the ground.
The online gambling industry has arguably come closer than any other to providing an ecosystem in which people can really make use of crypto. Betting on sport, or indeed casino games, online has gained mainstream appeal over recent years, but the transition of real money to and from a digital gambling account swiftly and painlessly without falling foul of anti money laundering (AML) regulations has always been a pain point.
Hey presto, it’s that problem we were looking for and Bitcoin can deliver the solution. It’s secure, it’s traceable from an AML perspective and punters who would prefer to keep their gambling hobby private love the anonymity it brings. Over the past five years or so, it seems as if everyone’s decided to learn how to make bets using Bitcoin and there has been an increase in both specialist Bitcoin betting sites appearing in the market and in conventional online bookmakers and casinos accepting crypto as a payment option.
A new approach to eSport betting
eSport, live betting and crypto is a compelling combination. However, there is also the possibility of wagers using other forms of digital assets such as skins or in-game currency. Sony’s patent causes us to look at the whole concept of eSport betting from a new perspective, and it is certain to attract as much attention from the sportsbook community as it does from gamers. However, the former will know from bitter experience that translating the concept into a reality will be challenging, especially in the US.
It’s fair to say that America is going through a period of quiet revolution as far as gambling is concerned. On the one side, there was the historic decision by the Supreme Court to strike down PASPA in May 2018. At the same time, the rise in online betting possibilities became something that could no longer be ignored.
The result has been one state after another passing new laws in relation to sports betting. So far so good, but Sony’s patent is unlike anything that is currently out there and there is already a general air of suspicion surrounding eSport betting. Indeed, while 24 states have passed some form of sport betting legislation, the majority have carved out eSport betting for separate consideration.
Sony’s patent could well be a game-changer – but it could also take time to come to fruition.