The weekend brought us the first round of matches in this season’s English Premier League. In the US, where online sports betting has just been legalized, the pre-season NFL games are underway. The regular season will start on September 6, when the defending Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, host the Atlanta Falcons. So, although the World Cup generated a reported $160bn (£123bn) in betting turnover, there will be no letup in betting activity.
That is good news for the online sports betting companies, but it may not be such good news for the savvy sports gambler, who will be sifting through ever more bookmakers’ prices and offers to find the best value bets.
But maybe Amazon’s Alexa is about to change all that.
Here’s an example
Having drawn the first game of their season my team, the Wolves, are away to Leicester next week. Let’s say I want to back them to win that game. The best price available on the odds comparison site I usually use is 29-to-10: the problem is that I don’t have an account with that bookmaker. The best price from a bookmaker with which I do have an account is 13-to-5, meaning that if Wolves won at Leicester, I would win £3 ($4) less from a £10 ($13) bet.
To place the bet, I have to go online, log in, maybe deposit some money in my account, and undoubtedly tick a few boxes to comply with the GDPR regulations.
How much simpler if a voice-activated app such as Amazon’s Alexa could do it all for me – and that now appears to be an increasingly realistic prospect.
If voice-activated betting can be made to work, and there is no technological reason why it shouldn’t, then it could radically change betting, especially in-play betting. The big problem with in-play betting is that you have to stop watching the game to place a bet and, if you want to compare the odds from more than 20 different companies, that could mean not watching the game for a couple of minutes. How much simpler to say, “Alexa, what’s the best price on Wolves winning this game?”
“Right now Wolves are 5-to-2 with Bet365.”
“Alexa, place my bet.”
That will be a major step forward for both the sports betting companies and their customers. And it may just have taken a step nearer to reality.