The United Kingdom’s sports gambling industry is betting on blockchain to create better user experiences.
Sports betting has long been a popular pastime in the UK, having been legalised in 1961. According to the UK Gambling Commission’s industry report, the total revenue garnered by betting from 2015 to 2018 was £3.25 billion. This makes it the second highest earning sector in UK’s gambling industry.
It’s worth noting that online sportsbooks are a large contributor to the industry’s growth. UK residents enjoy a wide range of betting options, as seen on Bookmakers’ collated list of online legal sportsbooks. One would notice how each betting site caters to different sports. Some specialise in football while others are recommended for betting on horse racing. Either way, the variety of choices available has made the betting a booming business.
That’s why it’s no surprise that the UK, being the tech capital of Europe, is exploring decentralised betting platforms. Blockchain technology has plenty of benefits to offer in betting and gambling.
First, blockchain offers more trust and transparency, two aspects which online operators find hard to build with new users. There have been many reports of scams disguised as online betting platforms. Blockchain’s decentralised system allows both sides to view and verify the operator’s records.
Since the technology is essentially an online public ledger, it would be difficult for hackers to manipulate. This may help reduce the cases of fraud, which often result in significant losses.
Blockchain also provides anonymity. Online platforms would usually require small bits of personal information when conducting transactions. The technology eliminates this by only requiring one to send currency to a designated address. It’s worth mentioning that it’s a quicker process, as users will no longer fill out forms in order to join.
Because of these benefits, firms in the UK are determined to make blockchain betting a reality. Edinburgh-based Mungoparc has developed a blockchain-powered P2P betting platform that allows people to wager on sports games with cryptocurrencies. Currently the company is focused on football games in La Liga, Premiership, SPL, Champions League and Europa Cup. But it plans to expand to other areas like cricket, tennis, and esports.
Speaking of esports, fans in the UK can already legally bet with cryptocurrency. Unikrn, a live wagering company for esports, secured a crypto-gambling license from the Isle of Man. It is the first platform of its kind to successfully do so, as Isle of Man is known for its strict gambling regulations. VentureBeat wrote that it Unikrn can now enable spectator betting or skill-based betting, where players wager on their own gameplay against others’.
In reality, numerous cryptocurrency sportsbooks already exist, but they are usually based outside the UK. While it is possible to wager on such sites, users may be at the risk of illegal betting.
On the bright side, the British government is working on implementing better cryptocurrency regulations. The country’s stance on the virtual currencies is generally positive, despite its slow response to their rise. But Isle of Man granting license to a crypto betting platform may be the beginning. It’s possible that current online sportsbooks and gambling sites may follow suit and secure licenses as well.