Looking Sharp: Sporttrade and the value of line shopping

Sporttrade Line Shopping Interview

When sports betting exchange Sporttrade launched, it initially positioned itself as the gambling equivalent of the Robin Hood app. Users could buy shares of sporting events and sell those shares mid-event for a profit or ride the wagers out to the end.

After launching in New Jersey in September though, Sporttrade is better known among the sharp betting set as a premier option for in-game betting without the lag that comes with live betting with a more mainstream operator.

The team at Sporttrade has heard the feedback and realized what about the product was resonating with bettors and started to adjust accordingly.

Pivoting to the price-sensitive sportsbook for in-game bettors

Step one was implementing a toggle system where the customer can choose between displaying odds as shares or in traditional American odds. For bettors keen to line shop, the switch was a crucial one and one that often highlighted that Sporttrade was regularly offering better prices with closer lines than competitors. 

Line shopping is a crucial tactic for more serious bettors, so putting their name out there for their pricing was something that Sporttrade focused more on after launch. Nearly daily, Sporttrade co-founder Alex Kane can be found on Twitter pointing out some of the apps more preferable prices. 

Kane spoke to SBC Americas about the learning curve of realizing that pricing and in-game betting were more appealing value propositions than the stock market model.

“It’s iterating, learning, and then understanding we want to be known for one thing and maybe the one thing we want to be known for, isn’t that you have to learn an entirely new way to bet to use us,’ he explained. “Maybe the thing we want to be known for is the best in-play, and that may be slightly ahead of its time still, but the bet we’re making is that people will continue to trend towards in-play betting as an option.”

Right now, roughly 30% of wagers in the US market are estimated to be in-game. That number is expected to rise but not without some technical solutions to improve what can often be a laggy experience for customers as books try to update their odds based on the data feeds.

By being an exchange, Sporttrade has already conquered the latency issue, which they hope will help cement their position as a first mover in the space.

Sporttrade expects in-game to continue to gain traction

“We’re basically trying to catch the industry on its way up and be that brand that has been there and has a proven track record of having that best in-play model so that when people will click they say ‘Oh, I actually like in-play betting and it can be much more flexible than placing just pregame bets,” added Sporttrade Director of Content Dan Koob.

Line shopping and jumping on lines before they move may sound like the tactics of an advanced and experienced sports bettor, but as Kane explained, it doesn’t require much education, just a willingness and agility to bet lines quickly.

“A line could start off at -105 and then everyone jumps to -200, but one sportsbook has it at -160. You don’t need to know anything about sports, anything about athletics, anything about either team to know that, basically, if 19 people say the price of something is X and one says it’s Y, that alone creates an opportunity for you,” he said.

Is line shopping the way to appeal to female bettors?

In many ways, it is not unlike bargain hunting or coupon clipping, which begs the question if this is a model of sports betting that might be more appealing to women. Granted, women loving shopping is a stereotype, but there might be something to a path to betting that is about finding the right price versus spending tons of hours researching and following a sport. It is certainly something Koob and his team have been thinking about.

“We obviously want everyone to use the exchange, but we have made efforts to try and basically use that same logic to try to get more women interested in sports betting in exchange wagering honestly, even down to the design of the app, which we feel is incredibly welcoming to everyone,” Koob said.

Women aren’t the only group that Sporttrade is hoping to educate on the upside of focusing on the markets rather than the sports themselves.

Line shopping less about sports and more about opportunities

“It’s far easier to take a top-down approach, which is what we preach a lot. ‘Hey, let the market do the work for you,’” Kane noted. “If you’re looking to place a bet place at the best price, or take a step further and take a step back and look at all the odds changing and recognize that MGM seems slow to change here sometimes. Maybe I should just wait until the next time the odds change and MGM doesn’t move as much as everybody else. There’s my opportunity.” 

Sporttrade saw an opportunity to position itself in a more successful way as a site for in-game betting instead of a place for those seeking to take the trading experience to a sportsbook. Bettors might be keen to do a similar reevaluation and rethink what betting has to be and how much it involves looking at the sport versus looking at the market.