As the clock ticks down to college and professional football season, most of the sports betting chatter turns to the gridiron. Will the Eagles and the Chiefs come back strong? Injury lists. QB trades; the list goes on and on. And although the ramp-up to football is like no other in the US sports betting sector, sports betting industry Hall of Famer and IGT President of Sports Betting Joe Asher notes that there are additional, noteworthy events going on in the sporting world that are influencing betting behaviors and driving play in the “summer slump,” the traditionally slower period in the sports betting calendar.
“Let’s take Major League Baseball for example,” started Asher. “The introduction of the pitch clock and the larger base size have, overall, sped up the game and increased scoring. As a result, we’ve seen more fans betting the over and an increase in total wagers.”
Baseball is not the only sport motivating incremental bets this summer. According to Asher, women’s soccer has drawn more betting interest.
“The Women’s World Cup has become a big betting event across the globe. This trend really picked up in 2019 when the US captured the gold and has continued this year. Now that the US is out, the betting has tapered off.
“Formula One racing is another sport to keep an eye on. As it continues to rise in popularity across the US and heads to the epicenter of sports betting in Las Vegas this fall, I believe we’ll see a significant spike in interest in the coming months. Las Vegas is supporting the November event with a robust marketing effort, as are the Strip resorts. This, coupled with increased exposure via documentaries on Netflix and the like, should only elevate interest and fan engagement,” continued Asher.
Despite the dynamic nature of the sports betting sector and the exciting unknowns that come with it, Asher agrees that when it comes to the betting calendar, nothing beats the excitement of football season in the US.
“There is simply nothing like the lead-up to football season. Our customers are excited, players are excited, the entire IGT PlaySports team is excited,” explained Asher. “Preparation looks different for each of our customers – some focus on technology upgrades, others on the sportsbook environment and betting menus, but whatever the situation, the PlaySports team is here to support.”
Someone square in the middle of the ramp-up to football is IGT PlaySports Head of Trading Tony DiTommaso. With more than four decades of experience in the sports betting industry, he spends his summer months helping IGT PlaySports’ 40-plus turnkey customers manage their risk, formulate their betting menus and create localized offers and pricing.
“As people were getting excited for the Hall of Fame football game that pitted the Browns against the Jets, the IGT PlaySports trading team remained focused on our customers’ needs. In addition to the daily monitoring of our vast NFL prop content, July is when our trading team conducts its much-anticipated pre-football trading discussions with our PlaySports customers. These discussions cover a broad range of topics such as feedback on the prior year’s performance and growth opportunities, to strategies for elevating the player experience, and methods for driving efficiencies and profitability,” said Di Tommaso. “But make no mistake – all of these conversations revolve around the upcoming NFL season.”
And while Asher and his team work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure IGT PlaySports customers and their players are positioned for success, DiTommaso is quick to remind people that what makes this time of year so spectacular is the unknown, the surprises, and the pure passion of sports fans.
“Savvy bettors can utilize the NFL preseason to turn a sport that is often high hold for the sportsbooks, to a small winner due to aggressive information collection throughout a relatively short preseason schedule,” noted DiTommaso. “This information causes market volatility. During the regular season, it would be uncommon for an NFL game to move two, three, even four points; however, this is a common occurrence during the preseason.”