Chalkline Sports: How the NBA can continue to evolve as a betting sport

In its most recent broadcasting evolution, the NBA recently partnered with Twitter to deliver an complementary live streaming deal via social media, allowing fans to watch the game through single player-focused cameras.

SBCAmericas spoke to Daniel Kustelski the CEO & Co-founder of Chalkline Sports, about why player props will be a crucial element to NBA relationship with sports betting, as well as why the fast paced nature of the sport means it can continue to prosper as a sports betting product.

SBCAmericas: Firstly are you able to reiterate why basketball lends itself so much to betting?

Daniel Kustelski: Stats in Nevada Support the growth of Basketball over the past five years. 41% increase in handle (second most growth behind baseball) and 48% increase in Hold (Highest of all categories), bettors are clearly showing that it is a sport and will challenge football in the next few years for the mantle of top betting sport.

2018 Basketball Handle will increase approximately five per cent with the Hold Margin increasing over 10%YoY to over six point five per cent. 

The easy trackability of key metrics (pts, reb, assists, 3-pointers, blocks, steals) means more prop betting options which will be most popular among casual bettors

Games are only a couple hours and broken up by Quarters and plenty of TV timeouts. This plays nicely into Live In Play wagering for over/unders, point spread, and moneyline wagering and prop bets on individual player stats

SBCAmericas: The allure of NBA is very much built around the star players of the game, how important will it be that betting operators looking to maximise the popularity of NBA, that they play on the popularity of the sports’ stars?

DK: US sports fans are stats-crazy. The Fantasy Sports betting products have been catered to this for the past three or four years. The sportsbooks will provide betting on those same individual player stats plus offer betting on the outcome of the quarter, half or full time results. A perfect compliment.

Basketball is the most individualistic team sports out there (if that makes sense), the superstar matchups provide massive opportunities for prop bets that will only increase the excitement surrounding a marquee encounter.

SBCAmericas: The growth of player bets in the UK has been exponential, UK bettors can now bet over/under on how many passes a player makes in a game. How do you see player props expanding in the NBA as sports betting grows in the US?

DK: Firstly, the  technology needs to be in place for these stats to be officially tracked and resulted. As a former bookmaker, we relied on the accuracy of our datafeeds and we only offered markets that were provided to us through official channels.

Non-exclusive NBA data deal with Sportradar and Genius Sports to disseminate official league data. The league is taking active steps to prepare for sports betting in the US, I’m of the opinion these data deals will be essential to offering bettors more robust live-in-play betting options (already signed BetStars, FanDuel, MGM.

SBCAmericas: We have seen NBA teams embrace sponsorship with betting operators, how important is it that the players of some these teams are utilised in order for sponsors to maximise these partnerships?

DK: Former players are already involved and will probably continue to be asked to be brand ambassadors, Allen Iverson has already teamed up with Pointsbet in New Jersey, whilst Charles Barkley has appeared in Draft Kings advertisements.

Current players won’t endorse betting companies and while I have heard rumblings of players licensing their own data, it seems that the Players Unions will get involved 1st to discuss the sale and ownership of individual player data.

The current sponsorships between the NBA and Operators seem focused on data rights, whereas the current sponsorships between teams/venues and operators seem more focused on customer acquisition through bettor awareness.

SBCAmericas: More generally, I’ve got to ask you, as we are halfway through the season, who are you picking to win the MVP award this season?

My quick take: Lebron is always the MVP, he just doesn’t always win the award. But aside from Lebron, when you watch Giannis play, it’s hard to believe how dominant he is amongst other NBA players. Harden seems to be a front runner with the scoring tear he has been on lately. But, I’m going with Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s going to lead the Bucks to the NBA Finals and run away with the MVP. Easily the most exciting player in the NBA right now.