The digital environment has reached new heights since embracing non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Interestingly, NFTs, which are digital assets that use blockchain technology to record digital ownership of real-world objects, have been around since 2014. However, they didn’t gain notoriety until 2017. NFTs can be image collections, video highlights, collectable cards, and other tangible/intangible items. One of their advantages is that each NFT contains information that makes it verifiable and distinct from others. That limits the circulation of fake collectables. NFTs also give the buyer complete ownership over the digital art they purchase.
Over the past year, the sports industry has embraced the NFT landscape. Dozens of leagues have released their own, including Formula 1, and one of the pioneers in sports NFTs is Dapper Labs, a Canadian company that partnered with the NBA to release NBA Top Shot. This platform lets fans buy, sell, and trade video highlights. Shortly after its release, sports site espn.com reported NBA Top Shot had accumulated $500 million in sales. Dapper Labs has also disclosed plans to build a platform for the NFL, which is interesting because it could be argued there’s another market worth exploring: the United Kingdom.
Why The UK?
Football is the world’s most popular sport, and every year, visitors bring billions of dollars to the United Kingdom’s football industry. In 2019, overseas visitors who watched a football match in the UK spent a collective $1.9 billion. Club owners are also always looking for additional sources of revenue, and the success of NBA Top Shot is the perfect blueprint for clubs and companies looking to create football NFTs.
For instance, in February 2021, an individual paid $208,000 for a video of LeBron James dunking. Companies could sell videos of footballers in the same way. A video of Sergio Aguero scoring in injury-time against QPR is a great example that could sell as an NFT. Also, as we covered, England’s women’s national football team drew Northern Ireland at Euro 22; this match could prove an opportunity to sell NFTs.
One problem with NFTs is that they haven’t proven their utility beyond collectable value. Essentially, this means rather than simply collecting NFTs, there needs to be additional use. Fortunately, it’s been suggested the iGaming industry could help prove this, which means the United Kingdom’s business landscape and diverse casino industry, makes it an ideal hub for NFTs. The possibilities are endless with NFTs in iGaming, as the digital assets could be used to unlock certain features in casino games like slot games, proving their utility beyond collecting.
Further, a popular niche in the UK’s gambling industry is sports betting. That’s key, knowing the pivotal role sports is playing in the NFT landscape. Many UK online casinos have sportsbooks attached, and in 2020, the revenue from on-course sports betting totalled £14 million. Some of the most popular sports in Great Britain to bet on include horse racing and football. Likewise, punters in Ireland bet on horse racing and football, in addition to rugby and snooker, taking advantage of free bets and tax-free winnings, according to review site bonusfinder.ie. Review sites like this demonstrate how all over the UK, sports betting plays a role in the casino industry and in which platforms gamblers choose to play on.
The possibilities of using NFTs to unlock features in casino games could help prove the technology’s extended value, and knowing the United Kingdom has one of the largest gambling industries, it is the perfect environment to try. The United Kingdom’s ties to sports and sports betting also present unique opportunities, as the Premier League has a massive following, and there are hours of archives that could be sold as NFTs. The UK has everything to help NFTs succeed. Sports are leading the space, and the UK is a hub for the world’s most popular sport. This reality amplifies when you consider how online casinos have leveraged themselves as a way to address the criticism associated with NFTs, and the UK has a large casino industry that’s connected to sports, bringing us in a full circle.