Big Data is a wide concept that deals with machine learning (ML) and other facets of gathering information that can be analyzed, licensed, and sold to third-party companies for a profit. Advertising or marketing agencies might find this aggregation of data useful to enhance techniques and strategies to save money and boost profits.
The methods associated with big data are changing the sports betting industry by creating partnerships between professional sports leagues, broadcasting and telecommunications companies, and bookmakers. All while enhancing experiences for users and simultaneously protecting the integrity of national and international sports betting.
Traditional aspects of gathering information about people, products, and services have all been replaced by Big Data’s algorithms that use powerful analytics to predict the possibilities of future events with startling accuracy. Obviously, this is hugely important for the betting industry because it has massive potential to create wholly new revenue streams, thus incentivizing a “brave new world” of sports gambling.
What Is Big Data and How Does It Work?
The idea of analyzing very large swaths of information as an organizational technique stretches back decades as a precursor to massive advancements in the fields of technology, science, and innovation. As far as the sports betting industry goes, this is a relatively new concept.
It would probably surprise many people to know that data scientists have been working at analytics associated with sports, but that is, in fact, the case. For example, Sportradar, a multinational company that collects and analyzes sports data (officially for the NBA, MLB, NHL, and NASCAR) paired with the Amazon ML Solutions Lab to create a Soccer Goal Predictor that can guess when a team will score a goal, within two seconds and with 75% accuracy.
The lab team used Amazon SageMaker, a cloud machine-learning platform, to apply transfer learning with over 1,500 videos of soccer players scoring and not scoring goals. This network of predicting future events in real-time is also transferable to other sports. Meaning, sports betting companies can establish databases and use software analytics to create a diverse array of betting odds that continually evolve.
For example, player-tracking data in the NBA can record things like drives, speed, paint touches, and defensive strategies. Real-time MLB game statistics are continuously delivered to media companies and sports betting operators to increase fan engagement. A specialized tracking system monitors in-game statistics such as faceoffs, shots on goal, and time on ice for all NHL games. Real-time data is also accrued during NASCAR racing events, which ultimately facilitates the development of specialized digital products.
These are just a few examples associated with one company.
Big Data is now inherent across a whole spectrum of platforms in education, business, finance, law, investing, filmmaking, defense technologies, and even government espionage.
In the world of sports, combining artificial intelligence (AI) and data collection based on an athlete’s health, biometrics, and personalized performance serves as just another facet associated with how Big Data is revolutionizing the betting industry.
Ways That Big Data Is Changing the Betting Industry
One of the most significant ways that big data is transforming the betting industry is through partnerships between sports betting companies and media corporations.
Last December, it was reported that NBC Sports bought a 4.9% ownership of PointsBet worth $500 million. (PointsBet has been dubbed one of “America’s fastest-growing online bookmakers.”) Fox took a similar equity stake in The Star Group, a gaming and online gambling company owned by Flutter Entertainment which also controls FanDuel.
Additionally, Penn National Gaming bought a 36% stake in the sports and pop-culture blog Barstool Sports for $136 million.
This similar trend is observable within the collaboration between professional sports leagues and the betting industry.
TwinSpires, the new sports betting company for Churchill Downs, also reached a deal with Sportradar for data acquisition purposes. As the racetrack owner where the Kentucky Derby is held, Churchill Downs and TwinSpires now have big data on their side. Just in time for one of the most famous gambling events in the U.S., to be held on May 1, 2021.
Just last week, the NFL announced its first deal with bookmakers, reaching a nearly $1 billion sponsorship agreement with Caesars Entertainment, FanDuel, and DraftKings. This partnership highlights the normalization of intelligence sharing among professional sports and betting companies as the NFL is the last among highly popular leagues to partner with gambling corporations.
Micro betting is at the heart of these deals, ostensibly, since billions of dollars in revenue are to be expected by 2023, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA). Big data is a major source of live betting that will facilitate exponential growth in wagering volume and amounts.
An increase in fan engagement for broadcasters is also expected since those who bet watch 97% more live sports than those who don’t gamble.
Even athletes can potentially sell their data to bookmakers with wearable technologies that track and analyze things like oxygen saturation levels, calories burnt during a game, and heart rate. Coaches may also use this type of data to develop and enhance their strategies for upcoming matches. Some teams might even consider individualized data points before signing contracts with new players.
Online betting sites also use big data to improve many key aspects to deliver an outstanding gambling experience for their users.
Sports betting companies, professional sports teams, and leagues, and big-time media conglomerates work together to create a self-perpetuating cycle that only gets better and more effective with time.
Seemingly, the possibilities and applications of big data in the betting industry are endless.
Improve Security Against Cheaters and Hackers
Big data gambling is also essential for protecting the security of betting companies and their users. One primary concern associated with sports gambling data is that it might be manipulated or stolen by cheaters and hackers.
Of course, this is up to regulators to ensure accountability and preserve integrity in a growing field, and a booming marketplace is rapidly expanding across the globe.
Ahead of the game is the U.K. Gambling Commission, which requires sharing information between legal betting organizations and sporting agencies. This is designed to keep a watchful eye on suspected fraudulent activities and make sure that betting is done within the legal framework of the sport.
A similar legal structure is assumed for the rest of Europe, while the U.S. is expected to follow suit. However, this isn’t going to be an easy road ahead.
Match-fixing is another problem to consider when it comes to big data sports betting. With so many in-game statistics at play, there might be corruption among players, coaches, referees, etc. To remove the temptation to cheat and increase public awareness of these issues, regulators and their counterparts in professional sports leagues will need to act responsibly.
After tracking and analyzing live data, technology companies’ irregularities among players and gamblers can indeed be routed out. Thus, big data must improve security against cheaters and hackers by maintaining the integrity of performance, leading to wider audiences and increased revenue.
While big data is undoubtedly changing the sports betting industry by personalizing advertisements, facilitating the data of fierce competition, and establishing more realistic betting odds, these analytics could ultimately help provide better gaming strategies overall.
Hackers and cheaters are anathemas to the betting industry as a whole, and they are probably at the heart of why gambling has been stigmatized in various countries around the world. More data means more opportunities to cheat and steal. So it’s incumbent upon companies, users, and leagues to protect the integrity of sports gambling as it rises in popularity and availability.
With that said, these partnerships between gambling companies and sports leagues show no sign of abating. In fact, a colossal deal was made just this week between the NFL and Genius Sports for data rights at the behest of my Technology group worth $1.5 billion.
A deal like this seems to be commonplace now as sports betting only continues to grow, focusing specifically on big data. Goldman Sachs forecasted in March that the U.S. sports betting market could be valued at $40 billion by 2033. That’s going to be a hell of a lot of data.
Appropriately named “Next Gen Stats”—representing real-time location data, speed, and acceleration statistics—sensors placed throughout football stadiums across the U.S. will continually track data from tags on the shoulder pads of every player on every inch of the field.
Welcome to the second generation of Big Data. In sports betting, it’s here to stay.