Throughout most of history, betting has endured a reputation as something of a loner’s pastime.
Indeed, think of your typical gambling scenario, and it won’t take long before you conjure up images of a man of a certain age, cutting a solitary figure, his betting slip clutched tight with desperation between trembling fingers as he stares hopefully at the race on the TV in the betting shop, whispering a silent prayer that the horse he bet his last on doesn’t let him down.
Though that may not be entirely accurate across the board, such an image isn’t necessarily far from the truth.
What’s even closer to the truth, is that in the second decade of the new millennium, the idea of gambling being the exclusive reserve of the lonely is fast becoming outdated, all thanks to something that was also once seen as being less than sociable:
Indeed, up until the dawn of the social media boom in the latter half of the 2000s, personal technology was still seen as something best left to the geeks.
Then came Myspace, and latterly Facebook, Twitter et al, each one doing much to not only make tech cool, but to finally help betting become much more of a socially acceptable pursuit.
It started with the online casinos; virtual gambling platforms in which players could converge upon a roulette table made entirely of pixels and play for real money stakes, all whilst using live-chat features to interact with one another.
Such platforms played a large part in the growing popularity of an industry which is now worth £12.6bn per year in the UK alone.
Yet even that was only the first step in technology’s work of revolutionising the way people place a wager.
The next step was to combine traditional betting with social media and that most traditional of friendly pastimes – having an informal bet with friends.
The result was Social betting apps, which have arguably done more in the last few years to add that elusive friendly, interpersonal touch to gambling than anything else before them.
A broad, all-encompassing term, social betting essentially refers to any kind of app or platform which enables players to interact and bet with -or even against- each other, not only on traditional sports markets, but on just about anything imaginable.
In terms of the latter, the hit iOS app, Youbetme takes the concept of friends having an informal wager against each other, and takes it right to the next level.
Connecting individuals with both those they already know offline, and the app’s huge network of users, Youbetme prides itself on being the app which allows anyone to ‘anything, anywhere, anytime.’
Since the app first launched to much hype several years ago, its users have been doing just that, betting against one on another on everything from traditional sporting events to the winner of a reality TV contest, right down to who will win a game of pool at the bar on a Friday night.
As successful as it may be, Youbetme is far from the only social betting app out there that is gaining traction.
Introducing the concept of group betting to the world at large, Bookee made headlines by becoming the first app, or indeed the first gambling platform of any kind, to allow players to join forces and place a single bet together as one entity.
Known as a Split Bet, the feature has proven popular as a means for players to halve the risk of outside bets, whilst also sharing in the camaraderie of celebrating a particularly successful group bet together.
And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Elsewhere, the likes of social football betting app, Wantmybet, and Tedbets, which follows a similar ‘bet anyone about anything’ model as Youbetme, have both played their part in helping social betting become the one thing to finally help gambling shake off its stigma as the exclusive reserve of the loner.