Where there are sports, there is gambling. In the US, sports betting is now legal in at least two dozen states. Although several of those states allow in-person betting only, the option for online alternatives has grown in popularity over the past few years, with at least eleven states now offering mobile betting options. Broadcasting a game, race, or match and allowing viewers to place bets in real time makes the sports gambling experience accessible and enjoyable for a wider audience—if it’s done correctly. Building your own sports gambling application comes with a myriad of challenges, especially when incorporating live video streams of events. Luckily, we’ve got a few key tips that will help you stay on track. Here are some necessities for building your own sports gambling application with live video compatibility.
First and foremost, it is essential that the video broadcast of an event is in sync with the actual event. Not only does synchronization with real-time events help avoid spoilers—because you certainly do not want to hear your neighbors cheering about the result before it reaches your own screen—but in a sports gambling app, it also prevents cheating.
The process of streaming footage of a game, match, or race causes latency, a small delay between when the event really happens and when it is shown on screen to a viewer. This latency can allow online viewers to gain an unfair advantage in placing bets. Take the Super Bowl, for example. On some streaming platforms, the 2020 Super Bowl had delays of more than 40 seconds, far from real-time streaming. Latency of this magnitude may lead to spoilers for fans who get notifications about the score, or who follow along on Twitter or other social media platforms during the game. Even more importantly, if it comes down to a game-winning point, high latencies create an advantage for at-home viewers who have friends or family at the game. In those 40 seconds, the in-person attendees can tell their family members to place a last-minute bet on the totally unexpected play they just saw.
On the other hand, the gambling functionality must also work in sync with the video stream and in-person event. On a system that takes in bets from both in-person and virtual attendees, in-person bets go directly into the system, but online bets may not process immediately. Just like placing a bid at a live auction, gambling on a live game is time-sensitive. Participants may want to change their bets at the last minute, and even a small difference in processing time can leave them stuck.
The video stream, gambling system, and in-person event must all be in sync with each other to ensure a fair playing field for all participants.
To prevent anyone tampering with the video stream, security must be a top priority when building a sports gambling application. One of the main ways to protect the stream is through encryption. Encryption keeps information secure, and makes it available only to those who are authorized to have it.
For browser-based applications, WebRTC is a great way to include encryption. WebRTC was designed with security in mind and has built-in encryption so that all audio, video, and other data is protected, without having to rely on third-party plugins. WebRTC’s security implementation is standard across regions, which makes it adaptable and reliable no matter where users are located.
For further security, you can even add custom round-trip authentication to create an extra layer of defense against anyone who might want access to private information or to abuse the app’s betting functionalities. With round-trip authentication you can fully customize who has permission to view and interact with the stream and place bets. This keeps exploiters at bay and makes for a more fair gambling experience.
Another approach to preventing leaked streams of high value sports content is through forensic watermarking. This approach essentially creates a unique yet invisible mark in the live stream that can be detected and tied back to the user who leaked the stream and thus shut it off, and In some cases prosecute the offender. The problem with the current approach to doing this with live streams is that it takes many seconds to write the marks, and delivering the mark takes minutes of video playback before it can be read and verified. This obviously won’t work for live betting content. Red5 Pro is working on an upcoming new approach to creating forensic watermarks in real time for delivery over WebRTC. Stay tuned or get in touch with us if you are interested in testing an early beta.
Strong Client-Side SDKs
A strong software framework is necessary for developing the video streaming functionality required by a sports gambling application, especially an application that is accessible from a variety of devices.
Client-side video-streaming SDKs should be adaptable across platforms, so that users can join the stream from a variety of devices and browsers. Red5 Pro, for example, has a WebRTC SDK for desktop and mobile browser streaming, as well as native mobile SDKs for both iOS and Android.
Additionally, many live sports events now include VR compatibility. Fans can watch games through a VR headset and experience 360° views of the stadium. Hardware acceleration is one of the keys to making this possible. For the most versatile application, it is important to choose an SDK that has the option to use hardware acceleration so that graphics-intensive features such as 4K streams, 360° views, and VR can be handled efficiently.
With an adaptable SDK, users can watch their favorite teams while on the go, and interact with the stream in creative new ways.
Here’s the hard part. You have synchronized, secure, interactive live video streams with the ability to place bets. But how does it scale? Can you keep all of those factors balanced when you have thousands or even millions of connections? How do you prepare for an increase in your application’s popularity during an exciting match?
For a sports gambling app, scalability is key. If your video stream doesn’t match up with the in-person event, the live gambling aspect of the app can fall apart. If the quality of the broadcast degrades as the application scales, users won’t want to interact with the stream.
To improve the scalability of your application, start by using a load-testing tool to discern what type of load your current setup can handle, and then adjust your system as needed. As an example, Red5 Pro has developed load-testing “bees” that can be used to send any number of simultaneous attacks to a server. The bees create clients that subscribe to a video stream on the server, and as the number of clients increases, the load-testing process reveals how many concurrent connections the system can handle at once. This allows you to prepare the necessary number of server instances ahead of time, based on the expected audience.
Additionally, traffic to the stream may fluctuate throughout the game. One exciting move can change everything, and draw in thousands of new viewers. On the other hand, if a game drags on and the winner is clear, some fans may leave the video stream. To deal with fluctuations in the number of connections to a broadcast, the sports betting application must be able to increase or decrease capacity based on user demand. Load testing helps you determine the maximum amount of concurrent connections that your system can handle, but auto-scaling technology such as the one provided by Red5 Pro allows automatic creation and deletion of server instances based on the amount of traffic experienced at a given time. Auto-scaling pulls in the findings from your load-testing to prepare for the possibility of a sudden increase in connections, so that the application can scale as needed. To make this process simpler, Red5 Pro has developed the Experience Delivery Network, or XDN. XDN handles the setup of all the necessary pieces of an auto-scale environment, including your Stream Manager, database, load balancer, nodes, and more. Along with managing fluctuations in the number of connections to your app, this auto-scaling solution also saves you from constantly using the maximum amount of server instances, which can be an unnecessary expense if they are not being used.
Scalable real-time video streaming can be hard to accomplish, especially with an interactive broadcast. If you’re interested in building your own scalable sports gambling application with secure, reliable real-time video, Red5 Pro’s XDN can help you. To learn more, send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org, or schedule a call.