Sure, you could just sit on your dozens of sides, totals, partial game plays, alt lines and dump truck full of props once the game kicks off on Sunday. But we all know that’s not going to happen. Still, the live betting that’s going to be available to you this weekend isn’t the live betting you’ll be using two, three or five years down the line.
We might not be in the infancy of the live betting product, but we’re not too far away from the diapers-and-formula years, either.
There’s a lot to like about live betting. Right now it’s even more surface that’s harder for sportsbooks to defend. The action is also tougher for risk management teams to track to see if you’re consistently getting expected value, which means you can keep your accounts healthier longer. If you haven’t been using it in your arsenal, it’s worth your attention now so you’ll be ready when it matures enough to be an even larger part of the betting landscape.
There have been some positive developments along the way. Microbetting has the potential to be a new frontier for sharp bettors. Exchanges are showing that you can bet live without the pain points that plague the format. Improvements on the technology side are trying to erase the latency issues that plague the product.
Butit isn’t yet what it’s going to become once live betting’s full potential gets realized.
The Live Betting Tech Bottleneck
It’s a future that will look slicker than where we are now, Huddle’s vice president of innovation Ed Miller said. Huddle is a software and managed trading service for operators that specializes in setting live betting numbers. You’re already familiar with them on the odds screen under their pre-merger name, DeckPrism.
“Live betting experience improvements is what I think is coming,” Miller said. “Both bet acceptance delays and that sort of thing, but also just visually, how live betting is presented. There are pretty massive improvements coming.”
Those improvements start with the betting experience itself. Everyone has probably gone through betting purgatory where they see one team driving and they might still be in their own territory, but the opposing defense looks lost. So you try to lock in at, say, minus-120 but the bet hangs. A big play goes off. The bet was rejected and oh, by the way, now it’s -150 if you’d like to complete the wager.
Betting exchanges abrogate that problem by allowing people to buy into and sell out of positions at any time. Because they’re collecting commission and not living off the juice, they don’t have those same issues with playing defense. Traditional books will have to solve it in their own way, through improvements in technology and an increased focus on the live product. As frustrating as can be right now, Miller said, it’s a bottleneck. Not an unsolvable problem.
“They’re not trying to reject bets,” Miller said. “This is all a lack of technology on their part. Every major sports betting company that I’m familiar with wants that fixed. They all want that frictionless experience where every bet goes through and there are no delays. They all know that that’s the right idea, and they all want to work toward that.”
Conquering Latency, Polishing Product
The latency that plagued broadcasts, particularly on streaming services early in the season, isn’t even a technology issue. It’s a rights issue with video broadcasts. Because it’s generally only a serious concern for bettors, it hasn’t always been on the forefront of issues to solve for the league, but there’s been some movement there too, said Ryan Keur, vice president of revenue and trading for Simplebet, the microbetting odds provider for DraftKings, Caesars, Betr and others.
“I think Caesars and Genius (Sports), that introduction of the low latency stream on Sunday night football late in NFL season, was a great milestone for the industry and in-play in general,” he said. “It seemed to be maybe five, seven seconds behind real time.
“Latency continues to get introduced at a macro level via streaming rights, which ultimately hurts just the overall nature of the in-play experience. You certainly have the ability to bet on every single play, every single drive, every pitch, but how do we inform you that it’s a second and 7 on the 28 yard line when your TV screen might still be sitting there first and 10 at the 25?”
That, Keur and Miller both agree, will be the cotton gin, printing press and platform shoes with the fishbowl heels of the live betting product.
Imagine you took the Eagles at -1.5 on Sunday but the Chiefs go down and score quickly. Now you have the opportunity to take Philly at +4. But Jalen Hurts takes a big hit and now it’s Gardner Minshew’s game. Before Hurts gets carted off the field you make a panic buy on Kansas City -6.5. In the second half Minshew actually starts moving the ball and now it’s Chiefs -3.5 to win the half. Do you take the bet? What do you actually want to happen in this game?
That’s where an enhanced live betting experience is going to shine.
“It’s offering the kind of experience that people are going to want. To be able to visualize what they bet,” Miller said. “If they bet on a bunch of different moments in the game, they have six different point spreads. That’s extremely hard to keep track of in your head. I feel strongly that the key to unlocking the entire potential of live betting lies in connecting the bettor with the sweat. Enabling the bettor to better visualize and understand exactly what they’re rooting for in the game.”
A traditional sportsbook menu isn’t a feast for the eyes. They’re deep menus with long lists of numbers. Often it has all the verve of looking at an Excel sheet.
What a live-first product might look like could be animated, colorful and simplified. It could be graphs and charts and short, summarized stats that show you where your “jackpot” point is in a game where everything falls oh so perfectly like the sweetest middle you’ve ever middled.
“Taking something abstract like numbers, and bringing it to life for people so that they feel it and understand how (the bet) is doing? That’s coming to a phone screen near you,” Miller said.
Stake Out Your Live Betting Claim
For sharp bettors, this is going to open up blue ocean territory.
When the Oilers and Flyers are going to overtime, or Sacramento State is down 19 late in the second half, traders aren’t going to be focused as much on Connor McDavid overtime shots on goal as they are heavy volume pouring in on No. 1 Purdue or the post-deadline, overhauled Lakers.
Our tools can help you price out alt lines on the fly in the NBA with our live-betting odds screen. And we’re only going to be rolling out more from there.
You can even start to think about these markets from a top-down perspective. Simplebet is one provider for microbetting lines that powers two retail giants, sure. But other books are posting lines, too. Compare numbers and you’ll start to put together a case for a source of truth when you’re looking at live bets.
That’s a prime reason to start thinking about live betting edges now, before we get to a time where the live product could conceivably become some operators’ main focus over pregame.
“It’s hard to put lines up in this stuff,” Miller said. “There are so many edge cases. The pressure is for more and more and more from our side. We’re going to do the best job we can to price all that stuff, but from the bettor’s perspective, you can just focus on any one of those. One hundred percent that’s where I would focus. Micromarkets are coming. This is the hot topic. I’m just telling you in case you didn’t know as a bettor. The industry is frothing at the mouth to present you with bets on the next drive, in the next set, fastball or curveball?
“The cynical people will say, well, they’ll just kick you out. Maybe, but the problem is how do I know you’re beating me on micromarkets? There’s no closing line value. If you’re smart about it, you find good spots, you shove it down my throat. There’s not really any easy way for me, on the operator side to, to figure out your shoving some bad modeling error down my throat unless you’re super obvious about it.”
Every Game A Super Bowl
Part of the appeal of digging in now is that interface and availability aren’t going to be the only parts of this. Expanded product is another. In-game betting already is intuitive to anyone who already understands pregame betting, but microbetting is still a relative newcomer.
Drive result is one of the biggest hits in microbetting so far, and it will of course be well-traveled on Sunday. It’s an easy bet to understand for newcomers. Will the next drive end in a punt, a turnover, a touchdown or a field goal. (Just ask Keur how things went in the Georgia-TCU national championship game when the Bulldogs were scoring at will and he’ll tell you just how many people figured out how easy betting drive results can be.)
But things like single drive parlays, the short-time-horizon alternative to single game parlays, will be coming too. Will Patrick Mahomes throw for Over 45.5 yards and will the Chiefs get a touchdown on this drive?
So will personalization. The ability to set ahead of time which types of plays and prices you want to see so your screen isn’t overflowing with bets you don’t care about. Player cards will let you look at all Mahomes props on a given drive for anyone who wants to zero in on just one player.
That’s a natural for a game like the Super Bowl. But it’s coming to your Week 3 1 p.m. slate, too.
“Over the course of the year we’ve had these markets, ‘Will Miles Sanders first carry be Over 3.5 yards?’ But then it’s all subsequent caries. Will the second carry be over Under 3.5 yards? Will the third carry be Over 3.5? The Super Bowl’s a great coming out party for some of those niche player markets,” Keur said. “Our mission is to turn every single game into the Super Bowl.”