Today we talk about the 5 sports betting trends, that will shake the world of sports betting in 2019. Every serious and forward-thinking punter should at least be aware of those in order to stay ahead of the pack. I will finish the article with a few honorable mentions that almost made the list. Perhaps they will become the main contestants for 2020.
Without further ado, I give you the 5 hottest trends in sports betting in 2019:
Trend 1: Arbing to Technical Value Betting
The most massive wave I observed at the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 was the shift many advantage players made from Arbing to Technical Value Betting. Compared to Arbing, Technical Value Betting immensely increases the volatility of the punter’s returns, but rewards him for that with a few percentage points increase in expected ROI.
For me it is the most peculiar trend of the year. That is why I put it on the first place. It caught me by surprise, since Technical Value Betting in soft books is in itself nothing new. The arbitrage tools of BetBurger and Rebelbetting were on the market since many years already. You could always simply skip the step of covering your arb in the sharp book/exchange. So what actually changed?
New market entrants
I identify two main developments that caused this shift. First, new players entered the betting software market and moved things quite a bit. I believe Trademate Sport’s launch had a part to play in this. It was one of the first products to introduce a more professional perspective to Technical Value Betting. Trademate in particular, managed to address the area between the arb and fair value thresholds. With this they offered many positive EV bets, which were being ignored by the traditional arbing software.
More importantly, this area contained a number of potential value bets in smart books and exchanges. That made it exciting to the highrollers as well. All that, combined with neat interface and nice possibilities for bookkeeping and analysis, represented a real challenge to the traditional arbing software firms. Not surprisingly, BetBurger and RebelBetting responded by introducing their own Value Betting services, at a very competitive pricing at that. I have reviewed ValueBetting by RebelBetting on this blog, in case you are wondering whether it will serve you right.
How this new market is going to be split between the new and the old players remains to be seen. The fact remains that many arbers already switched to Value Betting and many others will probably do so soon.
Tougher market conditions
New market entrants aside, the second factor I believe influenced the shift from Arbing to Value Betting was the general increase of risk appetite of the market participants. Value Betting has always been there as an alternative to Arbing. However, now a lot more people seem to think the extra risk is worth the extra return.
I do consider this a somewhat worrying fact. It might be an indication that soft bookmakers have become more hawkish and it has become harder to produce the same profit with Arbing as it was before. So punters became ready to swallow the extra volatility in order not to sacrifice a slice of their monthly income. This is a rather pessimistic reading of the situation. Still, the only explanation I can think of for this shift in risk preference. I would advice everyone thinking about shifting to Technical Value Betting to educate themselves about the risks of this strategy. Furthermore, it remains possible to mix Arbing and Value Betting to achieve the right risk/return ratio for you.
In any case, the shift from Arbing to Technical Value Betting represents the first important betting trend for 2019. Followed by…
Trend 2: Manual to Automatic
Have trading bots killed manual sports trading? I think the answer is yes. Save for a few courtsiders operating in a grey-to-illegal area of the business, I don’t believe there are many sports traders left who could make a living on manually trading whatever sport on Betfair. In the financial markets, high-frequency trading disrupted the business. The betting exchanges were conquered by the tech-savvy punters who manage to scrape any little value they find. They do so automatically and on a large scale, with the use of sophisticated trading algorithms.
If you have good programming skills and the will to put them to use, you could explore this option. It surely requires a lot of work to create a functioning and profitable trading bot. The good thing is you can always test it with very small stakes until you feel comfortable raising them. There is not much to lose. Good places to start are Betfair Pro Trader and Trader 247.
On the other hand, if the world of software development is foreign to you, I would strongly advise you to steer away from sports trading and all the associated products and services. In 2019, you are already late for this party.
API (Application Development Interface) is surely not a new invention. However, what has been done with the available APIs in the betting space the last years is a story in development. A main player in this space, smartbet.io seems to be growing faster then ever by integrating more and more tipsters every day, which improves the diversity of strategies one can follow automatically. We could only hope the continuous improvement of support and functionality will still be there in 2019. In any case, in view of the fast growth of the platform, I do believe more and more sharp punters will become aware of the benefits of betting automation and will try to run their strategies on the plattform.
I am partnering with smartbet.io myself, so if you decide to give it a try, make sure to mention you have been referred by me and you will get EUR 8 extra starting credit, as well as second line of support in case you have any issues with the setup. You could also have a look at my article on betting automation for more details on the service.
Trend 3: US Deregulation
A US Supreme Court’s decision from 2018 has opened the door for statewise legalisation of online sports betting in the United States – previously only allowed in Nevada, and in a very restricted form in just a few other states. This is of course big news for the large European bookmakers and the industry as a whole. Surely a positive development for the sharp punter too – one can hope that the new opportunities overseas will shift the focus of soft bookmakers more towards marketing and attracting new players and less towards restricting the winning ones.
Furthermore, the deregulation of the US betting market should both sharpen the odds and increase the limits in the sports of interest for the US American punter – American football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey. But mostly, we should expect the overall sports betting market to achieve high growth rates due to the inflow of US punters, with all the disruption this development might bring.
Through Cassini from green-all-over I found a really well-researched article on the deregulation of US betting markets, which I highly recommend. Furthermore, Matthew Trenhaile from the Inside Betting podcast has talked about the US market at length in Episode 12 – Thoughts on Quantum Sports:
The Quantum Sports blog itself is a really nice recourse on betting on US Sports and NFL in particular.
Finally, an episode of another betting podcast, the Deep Dive, with guest Captain Jack Andrews, has also looked in depth into the topic and revealed some great insights. There the guest talks in detail about the particualrities of the new legislation in different states and what direction he expects the market to go. You can listen to it below:
Trend 4: Big Data for Sports Analytics
Sports Analytics has surely already shaken the general sports industry and it is only a matter of time until it becomes a central topic in sports betting as well. Of course, sports have always been analysed by sports professionals, sports traders and sharp punters alike – however, not nearly at the scale and size it is being done today. Big Data Technologies have enabled analytics companies such as OptaPro to analyse vast amounts of data in various formats – not only text, but also pictures and video. This has allowed the processing of very granular data such as player placement and movement and to put things in perspective not seen before. Every big football team nowadays has its own Sports Analytics department and models like xG (expected goals) have taken the industry by a storm.
As soon as sharp bookmakers, exchanges and large betting syndicates manage to attract the same or similar sports analytics talent, we should expect the new insights generated by Big Data Sports Analytics Models to get priced in the betting odds as well. These new models will surely make the sharp punter’s task of detecting value on the market even harder, but will also open up a whole realm of new opportunities. For example, I have just recently come around this article, where the author claims to have developed a profitable Premier League model, using machine learning and neural network techniques. The model is actually based on, wait for it, player ratings from the FIFA computer game. A realm of new opportunities indeed.
In fact, expected goals can be used to generate your own odds for a football game. You could just estimate the strength of both teams based on past xG performance, feed the results into a goal distribution (I guess a sort of zero-inflated Poisson distribution) and calculate probabilities for the different possible results. Football analytics guy David Sumpter put some code out there, to be used on free wyscout data, which can give you a kickstart in calculating your own xG:
Trend 5: eSports
I see eSports as another game changer in 2019. The development of technology has brought with it another fascinating trend not only in sports betting, but in sports in general – the emergence of eSports. Having written about it in the past, eSports are a whole new category in the sports universe. It is completely digital, takes place on the players’ computers and is being broadcasted on large screens in sports stadiums, as well as on online streams with hundreds of thousands of viewers. eSports increasingly attract viewers, advertisers and of course, betting action.
eSports in Asia
In one of the recent episodes of the ‘Inside Betting’ podcast, I have learnt that eSports has turned into the 4th largest sport for Pinnacle in terms of bet volume. According to trading director Marco Blume it has the potential to climb even further in the ranking. This is certainly not a coincidence. Asia is the Mecca of eSports, in terms of professional teams and fans alike. This spells growth in eSports betting as well. You can access the whole range of eSports offerings of Asian bookies, Pinnacle and the exchanges easily via a broker such as Sportmarket or AsianConnect88.
The demand is already there. Therefore, I bookmakers will compete for the eSports punter’s money by offering increasingly competitive odds and limits. If you are interested in developing fundamental knowledge and expertise in e-Sports for the goals of trading / sharp betting, there is no better time to start than now.
This was my personal list of the 5 betting trends I expect to have the biggest influence over the betting world in 2019. I will finish off with a few bonus entries that didn’t quite make it in the list, but are among the main contenders für 2020.
What I have my eyes on for 2020
Bonus Trend 1: Blockchain
Now that the dust around the crypto bubble of 2018 has settled, we could again have a more sober look at the area and how it has developed betting-wise. The majority of bookies accepting crypto nowadays still operate in fiat. You need to convert your money twice there (upon deposit and upon withdrawal) and pay the associated spread. The prime crypto bookmakers (e.g. Nitrogen Sports) are offering little more than crypto as an additional (or main) payment technology. You get the advantage of anonymity and fast transactions. Not much has fundamentally changed in terms bets are being processed and settled. However, looking a bit further than bookmakers, a few sections of the market are developing much faster.
In Crypto Coin Betting I talked about the emergence of prediction markets and the role of cryptocurrencies in the process. Of the platforms mentioned, BetMoose continues to offer a variety of prediction markets, mostly focuses on political markets. Augur on the other hand has already launched. By the looks of it is already offering serious volumes on a variety of markets – sports and others. The platform is probably worth an article of its own, so I won’t expand anymore on it here, but it surely looks very promising.
Another interesting product I noticed recently were ETH casinos. With some exceptions, there is little to win from a casino. Unless you are the casino yourself, that is – here is a business idea for you. However, what I find particularly exciting in an ETH casino is the way games are being settled. Similar to Augur, this works via smart contracts based on ETH. Everyone playing can see the exact algorithm. That translates to a level of transparency you can’t get in any conventional casino.
It is probably only a question of time until smart contracts on sports events enter the betting markets. Smart contracts have the potential to open up a whole new market for p2p bets. This could mean a new era for sports trading. I think the first mover advantage here will be huge, so I will certainly watch this space in 2019 too.
Bonus Trend 2: European DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports)
I have already written about DFS In the past. The DFS industry is huge in the United States. I continue to believe it is only a question of time until Europe catches up as well. The Premier League Fantasy game enjoys great popularity for many seasons now. Apparently the audience in UK and the rest of Europe enjoys the format. The biggest American providers DraftKings and FanDuel already provide competitions in Football and other European sports. Furthermore, some smaller emerging platforms such as FanTeam focus on the European market. DFS continues to be an interesting area full of opportunity, which I recommend everyone out there to inform themselves about.
Those were the most important betting trends in 2019 as I see them. I would love to read your suggestions for important betting trends I might have missed or forgotten. If you enjoyed this article, I would appreciate you following my Twitter or subscribing to my e-mail list. In that way you will always be updated on any new content.