Last night on ESPN’s E:60 show, they ran an interesting segment on In-running wagering. In a nutshell, this is a method of gambling on games that are already in-progress. The gambler can use a handheld device provided by the Casino, or they can sit at a station resembling a cubicle, driven by touch screens to make wagers. The whole operation is driven by Cantor gaming (they are doing some extremely interesting gaming technology development). They built a computer with complex algorithms that, within seconds of a basket or a ‘change of state’ in a game, re-calculates odds within seconds. Over the course of a single game, one man had played a total of 89 wagers.
Listening to the gamblers ESPN interviewed, this type of gaming is eerily similar to online video gaming. One man described In running wagering as ‘the grind’, a term used consistently by players in MMOs talking about their advancement. The gambler stated that making $300-$500 a day is a solid outing, ‘It’s all part of the grind, slowly moving up and gaining money in small amounts’. He also discussed how the immediacy of In running wagering turns him on, similar to how the immediacy of online worlds engages millions of people every day.
They even interviewed someone in Vegas that treats addicted gamblers, and his concerns mirror exactly the concerns of online gaming addiction treatment professionals. When immediacy is such a big engagement factor, it’s very difficult to disengage. You can get drawn into something in a very deep, meaningful way based on the constant feedback loop, providing data streams at an alarming rate.
I always saw a loose connection between gambling and online gaming, but this piece by ESPN really strengthens the tie. Toss in the recent situation in South Korea where a massive betting scandal has been uncovered involving the top Starcraft players (remember, StarCraft is a HUGE spectator/sponsor sport there), and I think we’re just at the tip of the iceberg.