Ahead of the Super Bowl 2023, SBC Americas caught up with a range of industry stakeholders to see how they are preparing for the biggest sporting event in North America.
With over 50 million Americans set to wager over $16bn on the Big Game, the Super Bowl is undoubtedly big business, meaning operators and suppliers need to be on top of their game to provide a reliable and enjoyable product for players.
Joining SBC Americas for this chat on how best to prepare for Super Bowl 57 is Mark Hill, Director of Trading at Amelco, Callum Broxton, Head of US Operations at Checkd Group and Ryan Keur, VP of Revenue and Trading at SimpleBet.
SBC: When preparing for the Super Bowl, do you look at historical trends, or does the formbook go out the window?
Mark Hill: At Amelco, we are moving into our fourth Super Bowl for North American partner sportsbooks, and each year is growing in terms of handle, operators and regulated states that we are active in. It is important to look back on each year and identify which markets and products have performed well and where there is scope for improvement, but we also need to recognize that as a standalone event, it is the one day of the year when our friend variance often comes into play! As a director of trading, my focus is not on trends seen on the football field itself but more in terms of customer activity, product performance, and maximizing the experience for players and operators alike.
Callum Broxton: One-off games always have to be treated uniquely and that’s even more applicable to the Super Bowl. It pulls in an incredible number of both first-time and once-a-year bettors, so we have to be able to create content for a much broader audience than during the regular season.
Ryan Keur: For us, the Super Bowl really is just another football game. We rely heavily on historical trends and over the course of the entire football season, we treat each and every game as if it were the Super Bowl. Obviously, one with massive betting implications and one that will attract the most action in-play of any sporting event all year. This season, we’ve expanded our offering beyond the opening kickoff to the final play – but were first to market with offering the initial 1st drive outcomes for each team. This has allowed us to get involved in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl and not having to wait until Sunday, February 12th to start seeing action.
SBC: Since PASPA was repealed, no winner has come from a legal sports betting state. Would that have a positive effect on betting appetite and does having teams in legalized markets help attract more traffic to major sportsbooks?
MH: Undoubtedly the answer is ‘yes’ in terms of more traffic on a state-by-state basis when the home team is involved, or a narrative can be built around a team or player with strong roots in another legalized state. If we reflect back on last year’s Super Bowl where the Cincinnati Bengals narrowly lost out to the Rams, Ohio was yet to become a legalized state for online sports wagering. The lack of legalization in the Buckeye State drove an uptick in handle for us across state lines in Indiana and Michigan.
Outside of the Amelco bubble as well, Louisiana legalized online sports wagering two weeks before Super Bowl LVI and I have no doubt the LSU ties for Joe Burrow will have skewed positions away from the Rams to the Bengals as a result. The key for bookmakers, however, is to recognize these subsets of overall handles and ensure markets and products are tailored to factor in these potential public team biases.
CB: Since PASPA was repealed we’ve never had a team play in the Super Bowl from a state with legal online sports betting. This year we’re guaranteed to have at least one and the sportsbooks will be banking on a huge uptick in traffic from that state. The dream scenario for was an Eagles and Bengals matchup, given Ohio’s recent launch and the fact that PA and OH are the fifth and seventh most popular states respectively. However, nationwide interest will always be massive, as evidenced by the estimated $7.6b wagered on the Super Bowl last year and having teams from legal betting states is more of a bonus for the industry as a whole.
RK: Yes, as more states come with legalized sports betting, we are certainly seeing an influx in action. During the Conference Championship weekend that featured the Cincinnati Bengals, we saw over $4M in micro-betting handle in the state of Ohio alone across our four US Sportsbook partners operating in the Buckeye State. With both the Eagles and the fanbase of the Chiefs in approved sports betting states, we anticipate this matchup to generate a significant amount of action.
SBC: What is the most important aspect for operators during the Super Bowl? How can suppliers support sportsbooks within this area?
MH: Flexibility and diversity of the offering. By nature, Amelco is a feed agnostic platform provider but when I reflect on our first Super Bowl post-PASPA to now, it is 2023 when we are truly embracing that philosophy. The flexibility and diversity of our product for our partner operators sit hand-in-hand with the appeal to the end user. Our platform has the capability of plugging in multiple feeds to service one event and as such when it comes to the Super Bowl, we have operators utilizing up to five different feeds inside their Amelco platform for just this year’s game alone.
That diversity of feed integrations allows operators to maximize their content, improve their pricing and move into new markets where one feed alone would not suffice. We will have futures, main markets, derivatives, player props, specials and micro-markets combined into one Super Bowl product for the end user that will tie in seamlessly with our partner’s brand and identity.
CB: Uptime will always be number one by some distance. The disaster of 2021 was virtually eradicated in 2022. The sheer number of new bettors means user experience has to be top priority as there are only a handful of chances a year to capture so many new users and downtime means you lose so many of them.
Attractive odds are great of course, but what’s even more effective and often overlooked is attractive markets that are easy to understand. This does of course depend on the sportsbook and the clientele they’re chasing, but if you’re going for the mass market, which most will be, the barrier to entry has to be as low as possible. Think ‘Joe Burrow to throw 2+ touchdowns @ +150’ or ‘Both teams to score 1+ TD in each half @ +200′. Simple bets, simple odds. If you’re working as a trader day in day out, it’s easy to overcomplicate things, even with the best intentions. It’s clear which sportsbooks’ marketing teams have strong input into their market offering around big events when viewing their apps and sites through this lens.
RK: A strong focus for us is to drive engagement and activity once the game begins. The Super Bowl is notorious for thousands of pre-game props. At Simplebet, we specialize in the in-play experience and would like for users to follow up on their pre-match bets of “will Miles Sanders first carry be o/u 3.5 yards; will Patrick Mahomes complete his first pass; will Travis Kelce’s first catch be over 9.5 yards, etc?” Beyond our primary play and drive markets, we offer these player props for their 2nd, 3rd and all subsequent rushes, passes or catches over the course of the full game.
During the playoffs thus far, we have seen our Kickoff Touchback market perform as a top-five market in terms of generating bet count. We anticipate this to be another popular market throughout the Super Bowl. Uptime is a primary focus, with us providing our partners with an available market at over 98% of the time. This ensures a frictionless experience for the users that are looking to pop in and out of games at various points to bet on the next play, drive or player market.
In addition to having the ability to bet on a plethora of next-event time frame markets, our immediate settlement allows for both immediate gratification but also a strong repeat beat count. As a supplier, we pride ourselves on ensuring strong operator relationships and want to be an extension of their product offering and overall customer experience.
SBC: Will traditional markets reign supreme, such as handicaps, overs and money line, or will we see more appetite than ever for props and microbets?
MH: Reflecting back on our previous Super Bowls and drilling through the numbers for our partner operators, bets on the traditional money line, spread and total markets have dropped year by year and I fully expect that trend to continue heading into 2023.
In the 2021 Super Bowl between the Buccaneers and Chiefs, 50% of all bets placed on an Amelco platform were on the three main markets. Last year’s Super Bowl saw that number drop to 41%. Whilst there is still an appetite for picking the winner or cheering on points to be scored, the choice for bettors continues to improve with new integrations and markets. Our in-house Same Game Parlay product is constantly evolving and improving while also looking forward to welcoming Simplebet on board as one of our newest integrations opening up a new diverse range of micro-markets for operators and customers alike.
CB: Same Game Parlays continue to grow exponentially and they’ll dominate the grassroots conversation this year, especially amongst the younger demographic. Why sweat for four hours researching which side of the spread to wager $50 on when you can build and back 10 different $5 Same Game Parlays with bigger odds and which are more entertaining to track as the game plays out? That’s certainly the mentality of younger gamblers and among the new generation of gambling creators on social media. It only takes one +10000 SGP to hit and suddenly you’ve made a name for yourself.
RK: In last year’s Super Bowl, we saw around 26% of our partners’ in-play wagering take place on Simplebet-related micros. Based on the growth that we’ve seen this year and the continued momentum throughout the playoffs, I would anticipate that number grows to nearly 35% and that micro-betting continues towards mainstream adoption. This will presumably be in the neighborhood of $25-30M in handle across our partners globally.
Many people have been conditioned to think about the Super Bowl and props as synonymous and we believe that this Super Bowl will be a prime opportunity to educate and build awareness for some of these player-related markets discussed earlier.