In-game betting has been around for decades and micro-betting has been a fixture at online sportsbooks for several years, but it nonetheless seems like micro-betting is having a moment.
Part of the zeitgeist is the rise of US sports betting. Speaking with Simplebet COO Mark Nerenberg, he explained how the explosion of the North American industry helped micro-betting meet its potential.
Micro-betting well suited to football and baseball
“Why it’s becoming big now is because it’s uniquely suited for US sports. In US sports, you have a certain cadence where there’s some downtime in between each impactful play or micro event, like a pitch or a play in football. You have that in tennis as well, but generally, soccer is by far the most volume in sports betting globally. Not the best sport for micro-timeframe betting. Tennis is, and that does well, but there are not a lot of creative markets,” he explained. “With baseball and football, we have ‘Will this next play be a rush or pass?’ ‘Will it be a first down, yes or no?’ We actually have the option where you can combine those and say this next play will be a pass for a first down or a rush and not a first down. There are a lot of interesting markets you can offer and they are opinions that casual and sports fans have and talk about.”
Simplebet is helping sportsbook operators embrace this opportunity by creating thousands of instant in-game markets. Eventually, industry experts suggest more betting will take place once a game has started than beforehand. Right now though, micro-betting is contributing to sportsbooks’ handles, but this is really just the beginning.
Latency issues still limit the potential of micro-betting
One of the major issues currently holding back live micro-betting is latency. As major sporting events like NFL’s Thursday Night Football move to streaming services like Amazon Prime, the likelihood of latency seems even higher, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping bettors.
“The Amazon thing is very interesting to me because it seems to depend on the device, and maybe your network. I’ve heard that the latency on Amazon is as low as four or five seconds and then I’ve also heard 25 or 30 seconds. Even watching on ABC or NBC, you’re 7-10 seconds behind real time, which is what betting needs to be at,” Nerenberg explained. “For baseball and football, it’s not the perfect experience, yet you still have time to make these bets. We do by far the most volume on these nationally televised games, like Thursday night, Monday night, Sunday night, and clearly they’re watching on TV. And you know what? Once in a while, I look at my app, and it’s second and five and on the TV screen, it’s first and ten.”
“It’s not perfect but it is still working well,” he added.
Game tracker tech can help minimize latency issues
Nerenberg said the reliable low-latency video is still at least five years away. That certainly limits the potential of micro-betting but there is still an audience eager to bet on the next pitch or play. One way Simplebet is addressing this audience is through something Americans are more than familiar with–the game tracker.
“I think it’s underestimated how much people will follow a game with good game tracking,” Nerenberg said. “But in the meantime, I think these low latency game trackers really show you all the information you need to follow, and it’s not a video game. This is based on what’s actually happening in real life, which is what people care about, what they’re going to talk about, what’s going on on Twitter. And so I think that’s gonna be a really big step.”
He compared it to checking your fantasy football app at dinner or peeking in on the outcome of a football game. These fans are looking for the most current information, and that info does not need to be presented in HD video to be impactful.
Simplebet is employing that approach with college football, where latency issues and no official data make live betting more difficult than in the major leagues. The company is using scouts in the stands and a command center to help create up-to-the-moment game casts. While bettors cannot see the plays in action, they have enough information about a drive to make betting decisions about the next play or the outcome of that drive.
Micro-betting is still not being actively marketed by operators
What is even more interesting about the micro-betting zeitgeist is it is a beast of its own creation. Nerenberg noted that operators have put minimal marketing into selling micro-betting to bettors, so the market for it consists primarily of early adopters.
“When you get the right stats or markets in front of the right users at the right time, that’s going to bring in this whole new type of casual fan, bring them into the ecosystem, and that’s great for everyone,” he said.
It may seem like a niche product, betting on the granular moments of a single sporting event. Nerenberg pointed out that we live in a world of instant gratification. There is going to be interest in a bet that is resolved in a matter of a minute or two rather than waiting for a three-hour game to be over before knowing whether you won or lost.
Instant gratification, acting on your intuitions, proving you are right. Micro-betting indeed caters not just to the most popular American sports, but also to American sensibilities. And if you think it is all the rage now, just remember, this is only the beginning.