OpenBet’s trader corner: alternative approach required for March Madness

Nikos Konstakis, Chief Product Officer at OpenBet, lifts the lid on the trading challenges that operators face during the college basketball extravaganza and outlines why specialist knowledge is required.

After last year’s thrilling March Madness that produced more upsets than ever before, the hugely popular month-long college basketball tournament is back and expected to break wagering records. 

An estimated 45 million Americans plan to place a bet on March Madness, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA), with over $3 billion anticipated to be wagered. There is no doubt that the NCAA tournament continues to grab the interest of sports fans, and for those that like to elevate the experience further by placing a bet, there are ample opportunities to get involved.  

At OpenBet, we expected to see huge volumes of bets throughout the tournament. Initial data from our Don Best sports data feeds, as well as SportCast’s pioneering BetBuilder product, shows that interest is extremely high.  

Player Props are again proving hugely popular. Markets like points scored, threes made, rebounds and assists are attractive to bettors and complement the main match markets. On top of this, same-game parlays remain very much in demand and offer a truly exciting experience. During the latter rounds, the best players will receive a lot of attention through broadcast channels and social media. From a betting perspective, they become very popular as punters look to back the star athletes. 

What makes March Madness so appealing to many bettors, particularly those sharper punters, is the unpredictability of college sports in comparison to their professional counterparts. From their perspective, this increases the likelihood of beating the sportsbook, getting ahead of the game and placing smart bets. 

While this delivers truly exciting sports betting entertainment, for operators and traders the month-long tournament can present challenges. Quite often in these knockout games, the grand occasion can get the better of certain players. With March Madness likely to the biggest event they have played in their careers so far, inevitably the tension increases and leads to more errors and the potential for upsets. 

From our experience, a different trading approach is required as many player prop markets are based on relatively unknown players. These games are notoriously hard to price, so providing such a service is an achievement in its own right. 

Trading expertise 

In the midst of an ongoing debate in the US as to whether operators should go in-house with their technology or outsource functions to a third party, when it comes to March Madness the decision is obvious.

Leaning on expert traders who closely monitor professional and college sports on a daily basis is a must to deliver a comprehensive March Madness offering. Not only does this reduce the risks involved, but sportsbooks are also in a position to offer a greater range of content that is appealing to a wider audience. 

Sharp bettors will find lots of angles for smart bets on these games, so trader awareness and front running shifts in the market is paramount to ensuring a product is successful. 

At OpenBet, we worked hard to produce an industry-leading March Madness offering for the benefit of operators and players. This includes expanding SportCast’s Player Props portfolio to cover more athletes. Such a move will also grow the number of same game parlays placed, resulting in better margins for operators. 

In addition, our expert traders from within the Don Best, combined with proprietary algorithms and analytics provides us with the competitive edge. Simply put, operators that are utilizing Don Best data feeds and BetBuilder for March Madness are in a match winning position. 

With legalized sports betting now available in over 30 states, events like March Madness will continue to generate huge opportunities for sportsbooks. To hold an edge over the competition, content is king and comprehensive markets across college and professional sports are vital. To achieve such a variety of markets, specialist trading knowledge is simply a must.