Kambi’s State of the Nation: Why in-game betting is the key battleground for US sportsbooks

Kambi’s State of the Nation: Why in-game betting is the key battleground for US sportsbooks
Source: Kambi

In the first of a series of monthly breakdowns of the US betting industry, Evan Schaffner (pictured) – Kambi’s Head of Partner Success for U.S. and Latin America – takes a look at why the appetite for in-game wagering is on the rise and why this could prove to be the key battleground for US sportsbooks.

The quality of a sportsbook’s in-game offering is increasingly the key differentiator between an excellent sports betting experience and a merely good one. 

Providing this requires a supply chain capable of delivering on all levels, beginning with the integration of official data partners and proven algorithms that process the data, followed by excellence in trading and risk, which must all be supplied through a fast and intuitive frontend. Only when these elements are working in perfect harmony can an operator begin to deliver a best-in-class in-play service. 

Looking at the burgeoning US betting market, the ratio of in-game wagering is steadily rising as bettors become more familiar with regulated sports wagering. The appetite was there from the onset following the repeal of PASPA, with Kambi finding that over half of US bettors placed an in-play wager within their first five bets of joining in April 2019, and overall engagement levels with our live offering continue to rise steadily in 2021.

The most popular sports in the US are well suited to delivering enjoyable live betting – take, for example, the breaks in play across sports such football and baseball. Kambi also offers an extensive range of markets and low delays in more fast-paced sports such as basketball, which demonstrates the highest level of in-play engagement of the four major US sports. 

A key contributing factor to growing in-play 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 understandably larger – with mobile being more conducive to in-play betting – and the split between pre-match and live is much closer on mobile than on-property. That being said, the Kambi kiosk narrows this gap more than one would suspect, providing the in-game experience with a more natural platform on-property than was previously possible.

Instant betting on the rise

With the growth of in-game betting, we are also seeing an accompanying rise in the number of players engaging with instant markets across Kambi’s US partner network. These are markets where bets are placed and settled swiftly, such as the next point winner in tennis or whether the next field goal in basketball will be a two or three pointer.

The power and complexity under the hood required to present a comprehensive range of instant markets in a seamless manner to the bettor, with low delays, cannot be overstated, and nor can the expertise this requires in proprietary pricing. 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 player.

Instant markets can provide a real point of differentiation for sportsbooks by appealing to a variety of player types and extending the lifetime of a sporting event where the result may have been decided early in the game – for example, result of pitch in baseball when the overall outcome itself has long been certain.

Kambi has consistently led the way in the roll-out of instant markets across sports including tennis, soccer and golf, and worked extensively to ensure our delivery of these markets for major US sports was market-leading prior to the repeal of PASPA.

Interest in these markets in the US is growing significantly. In fact, across Kambi’s US partner network in 2020 we experienced a threefold year-on-year increase in instant betting as a proportion of all NFL live turnover, spurred by markets such as ‘result of current drive’. Furthermore, Kambi’s unique instant markets in baseball – ‘result of pitch’ and ‘batter to record hit or walk’ – accounted for more than 20% of live MLB turnover. 

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 in the US, and a quality instant offering is fast becoming an ever-more important component.