Art Meets Sports Betting – NFTs and the Digital Frontier
NFTs – Non-Fungible Tokens – took the online world by storm in 2021. The Covid pandemic created something of a perfect storm, in which people were online more than ever. More than any other innovation, NFTs thrived in this context, going from a total trading volume of $82 million in 2020 to a massive $17 billion in 2021.
They might have faded as a cultural sensation, but NFTs are very much still relevant for film, fashion, and art. Not only that, but they’ve started intersecting with other industries too. In this article, we’ll specifically investigate how they continue to cross paths with sports betting.
If you’ve never heard of NFTs before, or they’ve slipped from your memory since the initial craze, here’s a short reminder.
NFTs are digital collectibles. They can essentially take any form, but are usually some form of ‘art’. That could be a still image or a video, something cartoonish or from real life, and so on.
The NFT itself is effectively a data file. Like a cryptocurrency, it will be stored on the blockchain, and is therefore unalterable once it’s been created. The value of NFTs is completely market-driven – they can be given away for nothing at all, or sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The most expensive ever piece of NFT art sold to an individual collector, for example, went for a whopping $69m dollars.
If something has value, you can guarantee that people will use it for gambling sooner or later. So it has proven with NFTs.
Unlike cryptos, for example, NFTs aren’t actual currencies. As noted, however, they do have value to collectors, and therefore can certainly be used to pay for stuff. Sports betting is one prominent example.
It’s worth noting that the top betting sites wouldn’t dream of accepting NFTs. There are some sportsbooks, however, on which they can be used. Arguably the biggest example right now is BC.Game, an experienced crypto casino which accepts NFTs from several collections, including BAYC and Doodles.
Since the value of NFTs is hard to actually establish, these sites understandably usually work on a peer-to-peer basis. That’s not unheard-of in regular gambling, with betting exchanges like Betfair also being P2P. In this case though, bettors are able to stake NFTs on their wagers, rather than fiat or cryptocurrencies.
The other main way in which NFTs are relevant to sports betting is as rewards. Usually, a sportsbook’s bonus will come in the form of either cash or a free bet. Some more innovative sites, however, give NFTs away instead. Most commonly that will be part of a sign up bonus, but they can also form part of a loyalty scheme.
Elsewhere, some sportsbooks are even ‘selling’ bets as NFTs. You make your selection and pay your money, as you normally would, but are given an NFT instead of a regular digital record of your wager.
It’s impossible to gauge the staying power of any technological innovation. Bitcoin has been around since 2008, for example, and people are still divided about both the legitimacy and uses of cryptocurrencies.
NFTs are similar to cryptos in some key ways, particularly since their digital-only nature makes it harder for more traditional thinkers to see them as having ‘value’. That said, this market’s boom only a couple of years ago shows that there’s certainly potential here.
Whether that potential is actually commercial, or simply as a collecting venture, remains to be seen. What we do know, however, is that NFTs have already represented a fascinating crossover between art and technology. We also know that they can certainly be ‘worth’ a whole lot of money, which – in turn – has given them value as assets, including for sports betting.