Last summer’s FIFA World Cup saw many firsts: A first ever run out of VAR (Video Assistant Referee) on the big stage; Russia acting as host for the first time in its history; A first World Cup Final for Croatia. There was, however, another first at the Finals – the first appearance of NetEnt’s live Sports Betting Widget.
If you’re not familiar with the term ‘sports betting widget’, don’t worry; there are few who are. It is an industry first and hasn’t yet become ubiquitous at online casinos. Effectively, a sports betting widget is an application that allows you to place bets on sporting events when playing at a live dealer casino online.
Fusion of online and real world
While online sports betting is nothing new, the main difference here is that you place your bets with a professional croupier – based in a studio, perhaps on the other side of the world. It is another step towards the augmented reality that those in both the gaming and casino industry are aiming to bring to players’ homes.
Why is this such a big deal? Well, the widget in itself is perhaps more a tool of convenience rather than something that is going to change your casino gaming or sports betting experience. But it is what it represents, or, more aptly, the future it points to that is important.
Live dealer games have changed players’ expectations
For several years now, online casinos have been pushing to create innovations that will both complement and rival traditional bricks-and-mortar casinos. The most important part of that push was to bring live dealer games directly to your computer or mobile device.
They have, of course, been highly successful in that area, and as you can at sites like LiveCasinosOnline, players have fully embraced the idea of playing roulette, blackjack and the rest against live dealers on their computers and mobiles.
For live games developers, the goal has always been to offer those things that make a real casino exciting and fun. So, developers added stuff like multi-player games, progressive jackpots, private tables where you can play with your friends, chat options with the dealers and so on.
Gaming expos focus on innovation and realism
However, developers have also been hoping to add those things that a real casino cannot offer, and that’s what makes the sports betting widget so exciting. It’s not just that you can place sports bets while playing roulette or blackjack – anyone with a sports betting account can do that. It’s the fusion of the technical and social aspect that is important: You can place your bet with the dealer, discuss the sports action, watch the highlights, get the latest stats, and celebrate or commiserate accordingly.
Indeed, if you catch the action at events like the G2E (Global Gaming Expo), you’ll find that there is a big focus on getting games to fuse reality and fantasy. Innovations like VR for immersive gaming, 4D slot machines and interactive games are all on the way, but there is also still a push to bring a realistic sense of actually being at a casino to those playing online, achieved through new console, graphics and camera technologies.
The Sports Betting Widget is just a small innovation. But it points to a future where the lines will be further blurred between the online world and the real one. It’s another example of digital disruption, ripping up the rule book in commerce and in a social sense. A minor event, but a very important one.