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December 2, 2015

How online betting sites are beating the odds

David Maitland, GM at Couchbase, looks at how online betting sites are using database technology to meet the huge demand.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

The need to scale to keep up with online demand is an all too familiar challenge for modern businesses. Handling millions of transactions a day, which increases during peak times, online bookmakers are no exception. Having experienced the same digital transformation as taxi’s with Uber, bookies have gone from existing only as shops and stands at major sporting events, to having a growing online and mobile presence.

To stay ahead of the game, speed, flexibility and scalability are crucial – online bookmakers need to update odds in real time whilst supporting millions of users at once. Today’s online betting community is highly competitive – making customer experience a top priority for driving loyalty. What’s more, with the range of complex gaming, financial and customer information being processed, betting sites are in need of a flexible way to help unify data to improve the customer experience.

Today’s online bookmakers are operating at a very large scale, often supporting multiple web and mobile applications, as well as vast numbers of users, large volume of data and unlimited operations. For example, online betting exchange, Betfair is processing 30,000 bets per minute, across 140 countries from more than 4 million funded user accounts. And this is just one of countless bookies with both an online and offline presence.

Not only do online bookmakers need to handle large amounts of customer account data (including personal and financial) but they also need to be able to process volatile datasets to ensure they are providing customers with the latest gaming odds and information. There is a growth in in-game betting which requires a website or mobile app to constantly update odds within seconds of an action, leaving little room for errors or downtime.

Customers are looking for reactive odds, in line with the live event. For example, during a rugby match, spectators may want to bet on who will score the next tri or who may be awarded the next penalty. Customer stickiness is crucial here, without these leading edge gaming options – users will go elsewhere. Customers now expect to be able to log in seamlessly, across devices and have access to the most accurate data, relevant to their location – so the race is on for online bookmakers to meet these demands and retain customers.

Scalability, consistency and flexibility are essential infrastructure requirements for online bookmakers. In order to increase revenues with a competitive edge, online bookies are increasingly putting their bets on non-relational (NoSQL) databases. Unlike their ape like cousins; relational databases (SQL), NoSQL is able to aggregate a range of data across platforms, with sub-millisecond latency, supplying best value odds to customers.

Choosing the right database is key to the success of online book makers – they need to support the growing desires of customers and at the same time implement a flexible and scalable data management solution that will ultimately maximise profits and boost customer stickiness.

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With the potential to adapt to changes in the market and expand in size whenever necessary, NoSQL resolves issues of data management with little cost in terms of time and budget. In addition, replication prevents failure cascades when under high load, for example during the Grand National. NoSQL is future proof, providing stability and resilience for both developers and operators enabling their online betting environments to stand the test of time.

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