The Future of Sports Betting: How In-Play Has Become Supreme in US and Beyond

We spoke with Simon Noy, Head of Trading at Kambi, to glean some insight on in-game betting and it’s ever-increasing importance.

As David Bretnitz, Kambi’s Senior Director of Sales, outlined in a previous column for iGaming Future, live betting is increasingly the key differentiator between an excellent sports betting experience and a merely good one. The likelihood is that any sportsbook worth its salt will be able to present customers with a solid and well-resourced pre-match product, but in-game is where high-performance sports betting companies can most clearly make the strength and depth of their technology felt. In the USA and beyond, it is one of the most crucial battlegrounds for long-term user retention.

Looking to the US market, where consumers are becoming ever-more accustomed to the possibilities afforded by a deep in-game offering, the ratio of in-game wagering compared to pre-match is rising steadily – with the pre-match/in-game split for handle in 2022 so far standing at 60%/40%.

A key contributing factor to growing in-game is the regulation of mobile betting. In states that have introduced mobile betting from the onset, as opposed to solely on-property, the rate of engagement with the in-play offering is larger, and the split between pre-match and live is much closer on mobile than on-property.

That being said, with several US states regulating on a retail-first basis, being able to deliver a friction-free in-game experience to customers not only online but through the land-based channel as well is vital. No customer wants to have their experience of betting at a sportsbook mid-game stymied by long queues for over-the-counter services, or be faced with over-facing and difficult to navigate menus at kiosks.

Furthermore, the trend for enabling land-based casino customers to engage with the property through their mobile devices is showing no signs of slowing down. Giving patrons the ability to interact with the sportsbook from anywhere in the casino lands itself extremely effectively to a live betting experience. By way of example, Kambi’s Bring Your Own Device technology offers customers the ability to construct bets without leaving the comfort of their seat, generating a QR code which can be quickly scanned for bet placement at either the counter or a kiosk.

The rise and rise of instant betting

The significance of a strong live offering, and the evolution in live betting in recent years is placed into sharp relief when considering the impact of instant markets – that is to say, markets which are settled swiftly after being created, such as ‘next point winner’ in tennis.

Building a comprehensive suite of instant markets across sports including tennis, soccer and golf has long been a key area of focus for Kambi’s product development teams. The case for in-game and instant betting had been proved by consumer trends in multiple regulated markets, and as such we worked extensively to ensure our delivery of these markets for major US sports was market-leading prior to the repeal of PASPA.

As David underlined, the major US sports such as basketball, American football and baseball contain multiple discreet units – individual data points around which betting markets can be created. As a result, they lend themselves well to an effectively deployed instant betting ecosystem. For example, ‘batter to record hit or walk’ in baseball, ‘result of current drive’ in American football and ‘next field goal to be a two or three pointer’ in basketball.

Their popularity is continuing to grow: on the Kambi network, nearly half of the top 10 most popular in-game bets for both baseball and American football are instant markets, while turnover from instants has grown to be 95% higher than it was two years ago.

Instant markets can provide a point of genuine differentiation for sportsbooks by appealing to a wider variety of players, while also extending the lifetime of a sporting event where the result may have been decided early in the game, such as result of pitch in baseball when the overall outcome itself has long been certain.

Crucially, Kambi has found that US players who engage with instant betting place more wagers overall during a game, illustrating the impact a high-quality instant offering can have in not only attracting players, but having those players demonstrate higher levels of engagement with the sportsbook.

It is ultimately in-game betting that will be the key battleground where business is won and lost, and a quality instant offering is fast becoming an ever-more important component. The growing popularity of instant betting clearly illustrates the need for a best-in-class sportsbook, underpinned by proven, high-performance technology in meeting the demands of the modern bettor.

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