The sports betting market in the United States is still in its infancy. There is a lot to learn for both bettors and operators that are new to the market. As technology advances and the industry matures, changes will be made. One thing that we are already starting to see, an increase in the number of in-game bets.
What is In-Game Betting?
In-game betting is the process of placing a bet on an outcome for a game that is already in action. An example would be placing a bet on a kicker in an NFL game to make or miss a current field goal attempt. In-game bets are not only geared towards prop bets, but they also fluctuate the moneyline odds and the spread as a game goes on.
For instance, if the Green Bay Packers are playing the Chicago Bears, let’s say the Packers are a 7-point favorite. Bettors can place bets throughout the game as that spread fluctuates with the game. If the Packers are up by 14 in the fourth quarter, you can expect the spread to change to somewhere in the range of 14 points, as opposed to the seven points it was at before the game started. Now, you are essentially betting on just the fourth quarter after getting to see how each team played for three quarters.
That is one reason in-game betting is becoming so popular. Instead of betting before a game starts, you can watch some of the game and get a feel for how each team is playing before making your wager. Another attraction of in-game betting is the speed of results. Instead of placing a bet on an MLB game before it starts and having to wait three hours to potentially collect your winnings, an in-game bet can provide a quicker turnaround. You can place a bet in the ninth inning and have your money in minutes. Another option would be to bet on the result of a field goal like we talked about earlier. Within minutes, even seconds after the field goal, you can collect your winnings. That speed of pay attracts some bettors who don’t like to wait for hours to win.
How Long Has In-Game Betting Been Around?
Scott Kaminsky, sportsbook director of TheGreek.com said this about in-game wagering back in 2015: “I first saw it in 2001. I think it started in Asia. It’s been around a long time. It’s just taken a while to filter to the North American market, which is always slower to react than the European market.”
In-game betting eventually made its way to Las Vegas in 2009. Vice President of Risk Management for CG Technology Jason Simbal spoke to the popularity of in-game betting over in Europe. “A lot of it had to do with the popularity of it overseas, in Europe. For all the English Premier League games, the predominant wagering is on in-game stuff. Our CEO spent a lot of time in England and wanted to bring the popularity of that product to the marketplace. It’s extremely popular in England – more than half their volume.”
Will In-Game Be as Popular in the US as in Europe?
Outside of Las Vegas, the majority of US sports bettors are fairly new to the game. In Europe, online sports betting has been around since the late 90’s, so there is more experience across the pond. With this experience comes the knowledge of how to bet in different ways, as opposed to the basic moneyline/spread betting. European bettors have realized the advantage and the excitement of in-game betting. So much, that the majority of the bets taken in Europe are in-game bets. A Paddy Power representative said at FSTA 2018 in Los Angeles that approximately 70 percent of their bets taken in Europe are in-play bets.
Sara Slane, senior vice president at the American Gaming Association, citing sources, said that 70 percent of sports betting will be coming from in-game wagers. “The is the future. This is where we want to head.”
Gambling consultant Stephen Master, former head of the Nielsen Sports Group, said it will be casual fans who will drive the traffic to in-game sports betting. “All the growth will be from the casual fan”. Master noted with the expected trend of in-game betting, mobile apps will be the key to driving that traffic.
Mobile and online will be a big key for in-game betting due to timeliness. Bettors can place bets instantly on their phones or computers. For in-game betting when odds are constantly changing and plays are continually happening, speed is crucial. Bettors won’t have time to wait in line to place these kinds of bets. Therefore, states without mobile/online sports betting will not see the same success from in-game betting as states that do legalize mobile and online betting.
New Jersey Already Showing The Growth of In-Game Betting
We know that in-game betting is popular in Europe, but New Jersey is already showing that increase in popularity for in-game betting in the US. From December of 2018 to March of 2019, New Jersey has seen a jump in in-game betting. NBA increased 17 percent, hockey increased 15 percent and soccer increased 15 percent. For NBA, soccer, and tennis bets, at least half of the handle for those sports is coming from in-game betting.
|Sport||Europe In-Play||New Jersey In-Play to Dec 18||New Jersey In-Play to March 19|
What Does Increase in In-Play Betting Mean For US Bookmakers
For some US bookmakers, in-game betting may be a fairly new concept. As these newly formed US sportsbooks adjust to the style of in-game betting, US bettors may have a bit of an advantage, at least at some sportsbooks. Sportsbooks sponsored by William Hill or other European operators that are experienced in dealing with in-game betting and how to adjust odds won’t be as easy to take advantage of.
The increase in handle for in-game betting means sportsbooks need to adapt to this “new” style of betting. Those who struggle with it can get hammered by experiences bettors who have been in-game betting for years. Also, sportsbooks that limit their in-game betting, or neglect the concept as a whole, will get less traffic. That means less revenue. In-game betting is the new fad in sports betting and the sportsbooks who embrace it the best stand the profit the best. The same can be said for bettors. Those who learn how to make smart in-game bets can also stand to benefit greatly.