Welcome to Part Two of our special Insight Feature on the pitfalls and negative impacts of Data Scraping in the esports industry.
This section is written by Dr. Susanne Ardisson, Senior Director of PR at Bayes Esports.
Two weeks ago, in our first article, our legal advisor Dr. David Weller, from Lubberger Lehment, showed that many cases of scraping data can be considered illegal. He also explained how scraping compromises integrity and what right-holders can do to protect themselves.
Such insights are crucial for the further development of the esports data industry since a large section of the esports betting industry is still being exploited by unofficial data providers – despite all the safeguards showcased by Dr. Weller.
In this article, we want to dive deeper into why this is the case, and educate the industry on the damage caused by scraped data. We also want to look at the mindset and the solutions that are available to allow esports betting to reach its full potential.
Esports vs traditional sports
Most sportsbooks willing to venture into esports have an extensive background in traditional sports betting. As esports continued to grow, with over 500 million fans worldwide watching the competitions and industry revenue exceeding US$1 billion, betting operators realized the potential an esports betting product could have and tried to apply what they had learned from traditional sports betting to esports.
While this sounds great in theory, it does not work in practice. Esports is entirely different, with unique characteristics and challenges.
The first step to realizing the potential of esports betting is to be aware of these differences.
The unique nature of official data
The concept of official live data and scraped data, and the differences between the two, are unique to esports. In traditional sports–the field most betting operators are well-versed in– matches are not played on servers, and no live data stream is automatically generated as the match takes place. In fact, in many cases, data in traditional sports is still collected manually by tens of thousands of scouts who are sent to the stadia to watch the action live and track all the relevant information they can. This means that data in traditional sports is typically inherently delayed, as the data collection process cannot happen instantaneously.
As a result, betting operators with a background in traditional sports betting do not recognize the delayed nature of scraped data as a red flag since the data streams they have worked with previously for their sports betting services appear to be somewhat similar in nature.
Sportsbooks rooted in a traditional mindset do not realize the need to change their approach for esports betting – and instead stick to what they know. Because data scrapers are very comfortable lying about offering data from official sources, and because, to date, their offering is often the best the industry has on offer, this has resulted in a significant number of high-level betting operators unknowingly harming not just themselves but the development of esports betting as a whole.
The damage caused by scraped data
First and foremost, and as illustrated by Dr. Weller, sourcing and advertising scraped data in a majority of cases violates copyright, database, and/or competition law, leading to potential legal action being taken against data scrapers. For sportsbooks, this means that the data stream they rely on can be forcefully taken down at any moment. Furthermore, certain regulations, particularly in the USA, may require data from official, i.e. not scraped sources, to be used by betting operators. Not doing so can lead to heavy fines for betting operators, even if they are unaware of the unofficial nature of their data.
Unofficial data also fuels the grey and bad market sectors of sports betting, and invites insider trading. With scraped data being inherently massively delayed, and faster data acquisition options being available, sportsbooks using unofficial data can be taken advantage of, leading to losses on multiple fronts. Along with the damage caused by insider trading, bets based on scraped odds data may have to be refunded since “resulting” cannot be performed. If such instances of insider trading and refunded bets become public knowledge, they can also lead to a loss of trust and reputational damage for the betting operator.
Last but not least, using scraped data as a foundation can cause betting operators to miss out on the next generation of high-complexity and fast-paced esports betting user experiences, as they require the higher granularity and faster nature of official data offerings to be used as a basis. Relying on scraped data also means missing out on the investments and innovations related to the integrity of esports betting. This may very mean that sportsbooks who partner with data scrapers will always remain one step behind their competitors and also the sports betting grey market.
The mindset needed for esports betting to be successful
To succeed in esports, betting operators must adapt to the challenges they are presented with in esports and create products specifically designed to target esports fans, rather than trying to alter their existing sports betting offerings to also accommodate esports.
Esports fans differ significantly from traditional sports fans. Most, for example, are much younger and they also want the content they consume to be of a much higher pace than offered by traditional sports.
The only way betting operators are able to offer services that cater to those needs is by distancing themselves from slow and inaccurate scraped data, and instead embrace faster, more granular official data offerings.
As Gal Ehrlich, CEO of our partners over at BETER, put it in an interview with SBC: “It’s very unlikely that you can convert a football bettor into a League of Legends bettor. The recipe for success is trying to appeal to this new audience. Some of our customers do that really well. But others are very conservative and traditional sportsbook operators. Those companies that do not adapt will find themselves in a very bad situation five-years from now.”
In summation, this is the kind of mindset esports betting needs:
It’s essential to realize that esports is an entirely different entity compared to traditional sports, with unique challenges that need to be tackled and that require a different approach.
There is no room for the scraping of data and sub-par offerings that do not contribute to the overall development of the industry.
Instead, we should focus on providing fans and bettors with the best solutions possible and fix on the long-term future of this sport.
We, at Bayes Esports, will support anyone willing to do just that – whether through our own services, our trusted partners, or by legal counseling regarding scraped data and the protection of their rights.
Together, we can shape the future of esports.