Will Bitcoin Nudge into the Betting Industry?

Bitcoin
Photo by André François McKenzie on Unsplash

For most US residents, topics like sports betting and cryptocurrency have become huge topics in the past few years. For many, the two subjects are kept separate. Bitcoin represents the tech-based future should Silicon Valley have its way. Sportsbooks are a little piece of Vegas that’s accessible in a mobile device now that the federal ban on betting has been lifted.

But some have been asking whether the future of sportsbooks will involve cryptocurrency. Though they may seem unrelated, major cryptos like Bitcoin should (ideally) be accepted by all major businesses. According to a Technavio report, global sports betting could be worth $144 billion in the next five years, which means there’s one clear overlap: big money.

In past years, Bitcoin has made news for its rising cost and instability. However, advocates for decentralization believe the market will level out in the coming years, and more global citizens will look to stuff their digital wallets. This means crypto-holders will be looking to shop, trade, and even wager with Bitcoin, Ethereum, and beyond.

Is it another pipe dream riding the tails of crypto hype? Or will the coming decade see sportsbooks and similar gaming industries expand their deposit and withdrawal methods to include cryptocurrencies?

Current Outlook: Few Options for Bitcoin Betting

Some would argue Bitcoin and other cryptos already have nudged into the betting industry. So far, only one major US sportsbook accepts Bitcoin. However, the trend doesn’t seem to be gaining steam with other major brands.

At the moment, most US sports bettors are too busy learning the ropes to think about their digital wallets. Most sites where first-time punters bet online are designed to walk users through the process of setting up their account and getting in on point spreads and moneylines.

For the most part, sportsbooks are more focused on building rapport with newcomers than expanding their deposit and withdrawal methods to include crypto. However, that may not always be the case.

As the number of businesses accepting Bitcoin expands, so will consumer interest in spending their cryptocurrencies. A recent HBS survey revealed that 36% of small and medium businesses in the US already accept Bitcoin. This indicates a growing portion of the population wants to rely on cryptocurrency as a day-to-day spending method, rather than a long-term investment.

So, how long until sportsbooks heed the call of their punters? And, even more important, how long until punters call for a Bitcoin-friendly sportsbook?

Bitcoin
via Unsplash

The Future of Crypto & Sports

In the past decade, Bitcoin has made news in the sporting world—sportsbooks not included. Athletes in leagues like the NFL and NBA began requesting management pay their salaries in Bitcoin. Meanwhile, owners of certain franchises like the Sacramento Kings NBA squad have shifted to accept Bitcoin payments for certain in-stadium services and products.

The trend highlights Bitcoin’s association with big money and a growing interest in cryptocurrency. However, everyday punters (the primary clientele of major sportsbooks) aren’t yet interacting with cryptocurrency in a meaningful way day-to-day.

The future of sports and cryptocurrency will likely revolve around major league contracts and payments for top players, as well as in-stadium features for crypto holders. However, it might take longer for larger sportsbooks to adapt their platforms to accept cryptocurrency. Leading sportsbooks face developmental concerns; can their platforms be adapted for blockchain, at least in terms of depositing and withdrawing crypto? And, beyond that, is there enough interest to make such expensive changes lucrative in the long run? It seems executives at leading oddsmakers aren’t yet convinced.