Advancements in technology have helped the sports betting industry become one of the biggest growth sectors in the world since the turn of the century.
Land-based bookmakers historically had a monopoly on sports betting, but the emergence of digital technologies completely transformed the landscape.
Online betting is now a multi-billion dollar-global industry and its upward trajectory looks set to continue for the foreseeable future.
One of the key drivers for growth will be the shifting regulatory situation in jurisdictions that previously banned sports betting.
These include the United States, which had a near total ban on sports betting until the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018.
PASPA effectively made sports betting illegal expect in Nevada and a handful of other regions, but the ruling opened the door for states to legalise the practice.
The industry has subsequently boomed in the US, although several states including California, Texas and Florida are yet to sanction sports betting.
The Middle East is another region where sports betting looks set to become a highly lucrative industry over the next few years.
Several nations are in the process of establishing formal legislative and regulatory frameworks to allow betting companies to operate legally within their borders.
Betfinal is among the gambling brands which have already established a significant Middle Eastern presence, building up a sizeable portfolio of Arab customers.
As different nations navigate their way through the complex waters of Islamic law, Betfinal is well-positioned to strengthen their position moving forward.
A central component of the shifting stance in some Middle East countries is their desire to become global hubs for trade and commerce.
With technology-savvy youth populations clamouring to enjoy more freedoms, governments and religious rulers are being forced to relax their stance on sports betting.
This undoubtedly presents a wealth of opportunities for sports betting site operators, particularly those with the resources to successful leverage emerging technologies.
With that in mind, we assess some of the future technology trends and opportunities which will influence the Middle East sports betting sector in the next few years.
A feature of the growth in popularity in sports betting in established jurisdictions over the past few years has been the significant shift towards wagering on smartphones.
The earliest sites were designed to be accessed on desktop and laptop, but improvements in mobile technology have had a massive impact on the way people access the internet.
Operators have been forced to respond to this by fully optimising their sites to work on mobile to ensure that punters enjoy a seamless experience on smaller devices.
Some betting brands have gone the extra mile by developing standalone apps, which come with additional features designed to take mobile wagering to another level.
Many of the betting operators who are establishing a foothold in the Middle East have taken a ‘mobile-first’ approach to the design of their sportsbooks.
We anticipate this trend will continue as betting firms seek to take advantage of consumers increasingly using smartphones for the bulk of their internet activity.
While pre-match wagering remains popular, many punters now prefer the thrill of wagering ‘in-play’ when their chosen event has got underway.
Wagering in real-time adds to the enjoyment of watching sports – a factor which has driven massive growth in the prevalence of live betting platforms.
They provide punters with the ability to react to the changing dynamics of a sports event and adjust their bets accordingly, thus improving their chances of making a profit.
The sportsbook operators who jump on the bandwagon in the Middle East will likely focus on leveraging the opportunities presented by in-play betting.
With data analytics and streaming technologies becoming increasingly sophisticated, live betting will also become more advanced in the next few years.
Micro-betting could be the next big thing to impact the industry, allowing punters to place quickfire live bet builders during limited time phases within selected sports events.
Sports Betting Partnerships
A feature of the sports betting industry in established jurisdictions are the links companies in the sector have forged with media organisations, sports teams and leagues.
For example, numerous betting companies have established lucrative partnerships with professional football clubs in leagues around the world.
Sponsorships of leagues and media outlets are also commonplace, effectively creating a landscape where betting and sports are intrinsic to each other.
The Middle East undoubtedly has plenty of scope for relationships of this nature to be developed, with several nations eager to boost their presence in the global sports arena.
The Saudi Pro League leaps off the page as a competition which will garner significant interest from the betting industry in the next few years.
Its clubs are on a mission to sign big-name players from European leagues, which will serve to significantly increase interest in the competition among sports bettors.
The United Arab Emirates and Saud Arabia are at the forefront of the Middle East’s push to become a major player on the global eSports circuit.
Their respective governments have ploughed massive resources into eSports in a bid to join North America, Asia and Europe at the top of the tree in the industry.
As eSports tournaments and leagues become more established in the Middle East, it will naturally follow that betting companies start showing more interest.
Many of the sportsbooks currently operating in the region already feature eSports markets, but the offering will increase once the sector develops more.
With the Middle East’s younger demographic eager to get involved in eSports, betting companies will be quick to recognise the possibilities this represents.
We expect to see betting firms forge lucrative links with the eSports sector in the Middle East, mirroring the relationships they have built in other parts of the world.
The fledgling nature of the betting industry in the Middle East makes it the ideal place for companies who think outside of the box to succeed.
Firms who effectively utilise technologies such as data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) will be the ones who stand out from the crowd in the region.
These allow sportsbook operators to provide punters with more personalised betting experiences based on their past wagering patterns and individual preferences.
By studying the data, operators can tailor bonuses and promotions more specifically, thus making them more appealing to each individual punter.
AI can influence the delivery of odds on live betting platforms, enhancing the accuracy and the range of markets available to each sports bettor.
By embracing the concept of personalised betting, operators in the Middle East will boost their chances of attracting new customers and retaining existing ones.
Plenty of people remain sceptical about cryptocurrencies, with increased scrutiny from financial regulators and the media casting a shadow over the sector.
However, despite the ongoing doubts about viability of the blockchain-based currency, the adoption rate in the Middle East remains healthy.
Several nations in region are driving the push towards crypto – a factor evidenced by the number of sportsbook operators offering this payment method to sports bettors.
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are becoming more commonplace on betting sites in the region and we expect this trend to continue apace over the next few years.
This will be driven by government initiatives designed to boost innovation in the sector and the implementation of a more formal regulatory crypto framework.
Blockchain technology will also increasingly impact the transparency of betting operations by supporting the fairness of betting and payout processes.
The sports betting infrastructure in the Middle East is still in the midst of being fully established, particularly with regards to implementing responsible gambling measures.
Given the strictness of Islamic law, governments are keen to ensure that responsible gambling practices are taken seriously by the betting sites allowed to operate in the region.
AI and machine learning technology will be central to this, allowing operators to largely mitigate the risks generally associated with problem gambling.
By analysing betting patterns, AI can help operators quickly identify instances of problem gambling to ensure punters always remain on the right side of the line.
Gambling is an activity most people can engage in without any issues, but a small percentage of individuals display behaviours which are concerning.
By effectively utilising the latest technologies, Middle East nations will demonstrate they are fully committed to taking responsible gambling seriously.