On Wednesday it was announced that gaming companies INTRALOT and Simplebet would be launching a micro-market betting product in Montana just in time for Super Bowl Sunday.
INTRALOT is a sports betting and lottery supplier. In other words, INTRALOT puts out the sports book used by Sports Bet Montana and the Montana Lottery. INTRALOT will be working with Simplebet to offer more intricate in-game betting that goes beyond what is currently offered through Sports Bet Montana.
First, the quick and dirty on in-game betting: Currently on Sports Bet Montana (and most other books in the world), if you like a certain team to win a game or cover a point spread, for example, and said game has already started; you can still get a bet down with in-game betting. The odds will be adjusted to account for what has already happened, but you can get a bet down if you want. You might notice the odds have changed to reflect a play that you have not seen yet, but hold that thought.
This type of in-game wagering is not new. Matthew Holt is a former bookmaker from Las Vegas who now runs his own sports integrity company called U.S. Integrity. He explained to the Montana Standard and 406mtsports.com via telephone that broadcast latency has always been the main hang-up with live wagering.
“I was at Canter’s in 2010 when this type of live betting was first installed,” Holt said. “I’ve heard it for 11 years now that live betting is going to take off and it just never does. Because of broadcast latency, the odds are always ahead of the viewer, and thus it tends to be a bad experience.”
Simplebet offers customers the opportunity to bet on more immediate outcomes, like how a drive will end. Next-play markets will be added for NBA and MLB seasons, as well as next NFL season. Obviously the main difference here is the consumer will be betting on an outcome that will take minutes to unfold as opposed to seconds.
Those who like to text or tweet with their friends during a big game know that not all feeds are equal and here’s the kicker: none of us have a stream that is actually live.
“What you’re seeing on your (betting) screen is going to be about seven seconds ahead of what you see on TV,” Simplebet cofounder Joey Levy said. “But if you’re betting on a drive, that’s fine. Drives are like five minutes. The broadcast latency issue is going to need to be solved for things like pitch result markets that are only active for like 15 seconds.”
Cord-cutters have probably made the discovery that their feed for watching a certain game is drastically behind those who have cable. And those who have cable have probably noticed that their feed lags behind those who are pulling in the feed through an antenna.
It’s possible that no one reading this article has ever seen a truly live feed coming from the arena where a game is being played.
The major sports leagues sell the rights to the live data which come directly from the venues. These rights are sold strictly for sports betting purposes. One major company that buys the rights to this live data is Sportradar. The NFL, NBA and MLB all have exclusive partnerships with Sportradar.
Sportradar then sells this information to companies like Simplebet for a fee, and Simplebet then turns it into a product for consumers.
Sportradar is contractually obligated to deliver the data within one second of an incident occurring during a game. Then, Simplebet’s performance budget takes about a half-second to refine that data to automate the market mechanics and come up with probabilities around each of the market selections that inform the prices, according Levy.
“Now the problem with those odds, if you’re a regular customer is those odds are being created in real time using algorithms off the live feed they’re getting from the stadium,” Holt explained. “Then the customer betting them at home is watching a latency-filled TV feed. And thus the feeds almost never sync up.”
It should also be noted that just because the bookmakers have a stream that is ahead of the bettor, that doesn’t mean they can stack the odds in book’s favor. Regulated markets prohibit this.
“We’re only working with regulated operators,” Levy said. “We’re using official league data and we’re only working with regulated operators.”
“It’s not a fairness issue,” Levy added. “It’s more of a user-experience issue.”
Products that people use in their homes, such as YouTube TV and Hulu Live Sports can experience delays of up to one or two minutes in comparison to the live feed.
Montana sports bettors, in a sense, are united because Montana law states that bettors must be inside of an establishment which houses a Sports Bet Montana terminal. So it’s entirely possible that a vast majority of people using Simplebet on Sunday will be watching the same or a very similar feed in regards to latency, assuming that most bars and restaurants use cable or satellite.
“That might actually be better for the product,” Levy said. “We’re interested in this launch also because we think the retail experience around, like, standing in front of a kiosk or being at a location, and just having that more as an experiential experience is something quite interesting. It’s not the primary revenue opportunity for us.”
Montana will be the first state to have Simplebet as a part of its legalized sports betting. Once Simplebet rolls out in states with different gaming laws – states where people can place bets from inside their home, for example – the latency issues will probably be pertinent.
“Following the successful rollout of our real money betting product in Washington, DC, we’re thrilled to quickly expand our product to Montana alongside our partner, INTRALOT,” said Chris Bevilacqua, cofounder and CEO of Simplebet in a press release. “We’ve seen incredible user engagement thus far and expect to see continued growth with the expansion of in-play betting opportunities that we believe will be integral to the future of the sports gambling and fan engagement paradigm.”