The world of cryptocurrency is layered. While, at its top level, professionals in financial technology are looking to revolutionize the world through decentralized currencies, the average global citizen likely doesn’t know more than a few terms like Bitcoin and blockchain.
One of the main roadblocks for cryptocurrency is finding a way to bridge economic, cultural, and even generational gaps to bring crypto to the general public. Despite this, economic sectors experiencing growth in the past years have sought to integrate cryptocurrencies and blockchain at a platform-level to prepare for the future of global currency.
The Global Rise of Sports Betting
One of the biggest industries looking to capitalize on the growth of crypto is sports betting. Statista found a valuation of $216 billion worldwide for the industry in 2019, making the world of wagering on everything from NASCAR to Wimbledon a solid investment.
But for a country like the US, where sports betting is only now touching down beyond Las Vegas, are sportsbooks that offer cryptocurrency ahead of the game? Or are they wasting resources on something the public doesn’t need yet?
According to a study by the American Gaming Association, only 6.9 million Americans of the country’s 382 million residents placed a sports bet in 2018. That’s less than six percent of the population. However, a recent Finder survey indicated that in 2019, the number of Americans who owned some form of cryptocurrency jumped to 36.5 million.
Interest is budding in both sports wagering and crypto sectors—but it’s not likely they overlap quite yet. Does America need crypto sportsbooks right now? No. But will they in the coming decade? Probably.
Challenges Introducing Sports Betting
Even when it comes to wagering on sports, there’s plenty of research for the average American sports fan. Since the Supreme Court repealed their 1992 PASPA ruling, each state has determined its own regulations related to sports betting.
Currently, only 19 states have live markets, with New Jersey sports betting sites leading the way nationally. Finding reputable and legal sites is a sports fan’s first priority if they’re looking to wager on moneylines or over-under bets—deciding which cryptocurrency to wager with isn’t a consideration for most people yet.
Many interested in jumping online to wager on sports aren’t digital natives. Downloading a sportsbooks app is hard enough for some. Concerns about secure banking, tracking spending, and linking parlay bets take precedence over linking a digital wallet to an online sportsbook.
And, at a more foundational level, there is one critical issue that crypto sportsbooks face: the American public isn’t sold on crypto or the new wave of decentralized currency yet.
Building Trust in Crypto
The US is home to some of the most cutting edge companies that are revolutionizing our world, from the tech boom in Palo Alto to the hedge funds of Wall Street. However, the average American lives a life far removed from high design and corporate boardrooms.
Compared to other countries with a similar GDP, Americans spend a disproportionate amount of their income on non-public institutions, from medical care to transportation to education. Investing in cryptocurrency detracts from other investments, like retirement or a graduate degree.
In other words, if Americans are going to spend their money entertaining themselves with a sports wager, they aren’t likely to bother liquidating their income into crypto first. Not only is it seen as a risky investment by certain analysts from CNBC to Bloomberg, but it’s also difficult to understand how to acquire crypto in the first place.
In short, sportsbooks can’t afford to complicate the process for the American public anymore—especially when the country’s most popular sports (NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL) are blue-collar affairs.
From the players to the staff to the fans, top sports teams across the nation take pride in overcoming the odds ‘any given Sunday’. The quote, taken from the eponymous 1999 film, highlights the idea that a sports team can overcome insurmountable odds to achieve victory on any game day.
Sports are about grit and hard work, and crypto likely feels alien (if not suspicious) to many fans. So, until there’s a cryptocurrency that caters to the average, everyday American, sportsbooks that use crypto will likely remain a niche interest—for the time being, at least.