There are no immediate plans for Patent No. 0125691.
The description contains plain words like “computer,” “real-time” and “online.” Figure 2, an accompanying diagram, shows the system’s entire process in an eight-step flow chart that ends with “determine payout of event.”
The patent application, published on May 6 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, remains pending.
But don’t let its apparent simplicity fool you: This patent is held by Microsoft, and it could be a critical piece of a future with widespread legal sports betting in the United States.
Over four months, ESPN interviewed more than 50 sources representing a vast spectrum of interests and came away with numerous key findings about the future of American sports betting. Among them:
• Congress is in the early stages of reviewing federal gambling laws and plans to introduce comprehensive legislation that will address sports betting, daily fantasy sports and other forms of online gaming.
• Some of the world’s largest tech companies are expected to emerge as bookmaking giants that will compete against established U.S. and international sportsbook operators, state lotteries, Native American gaming interests and fantasy sports sites for a share of the market.
• Stock market-like sports betting exchanges will be created to cater to the more sophisticated bettor, while also presenting the sports leagues with a potential opportunity to profit directly off of legal sports gambling.
• Robots — fueled by dynamic algorithms, motion-tracking cameras and microchips capable of ingesting troves of real-time data from athletes’ bodies — will increasingly dominate high-stakes sports betting.
• Legalization may produce pitfalls, including increases in gambling addiction and gambling-related advertising, which have plagued other jurisdictions with legal sports betting.
While opinions vary on when a legal market may take shape in the U.S., who the biggest bookmakers of the future will be and if American society can handle what will be a dramatic shift in sports culture, experts almost unanimously agree with NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s prediction: Expanded legalized sports betting is “inevitable.”
In this three-part series, ESPN examines a future landscape with widespread legalized sports betting in the United States, beginning with potential paths to legalization and what the resulting marketplace may resemble.