Is in-play betting the future or the slippery slope?


In 1987, a teenager named Joel Soper went biking to Cloverlanes Bowling Alley in Livonia, Michigan. After parking the bike, he walked down the street and snuck into the old Detroit racetrack to bet on a horse named Bring on the Rain.

“I bet my bet, and it was actually raining,” Soper recalled. “He won by four lengths and I won about $150. And that was it – I was hooked.

Over the next 35 years, Soper would earn millions of dollars as a successful landscape contractor – and would continue to gamble every penny of it, mostly on sports betting.

Soper, who recently published a book, Never enough zeros, on what lessons can be learned from his epic losing streak, hasn’t played in over six months. So what finally made him quit?

“Live betting ruined my life,” he said.

Specifically, about nine months ago, Soper betting consisted exclusively of live – or in-play – betting.

“I bet Russian ping pong, tennis, live betting as the plus/minus move, 38 games in the same fucking game,” explained Soper, who will be featured next week. on Sports handlethe sister site of, Paris MI.

Of course, punters like Soper represent one extreme of the sports betting spectrum. On the other, recreational bettors who just like to put in a bit of action to make their sports consumption more interesting.

But the proliferation of in-play betting (bets placed on a sporting event after it has begun) and its subset, micro-bets (betting on individual events within a sporting event, such as the outcome of the next point in tennis), could the United States close the gap?

The problem with Paul

A recent peer review published in the Gambling problem log quoted a 2019 Australian study which stated: “Of those who bet on micro-events, 78% are considered problem gamblers and only 5% as non-problem gamblers. Among non-micro-bettors, the problem gambling rate was 29%. Micro-bettors were found to be younger, well-educated and single – and involved in several types of gambling.

“Research and anecdotal experience confirm that there is a higher risk,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling. “You can place more bets faster – that’s a risk factor for any type of game. But I think one of the things that is a bit deeper, not necessarily backed by research but by anecdotal experience , is that many sports bettors see it as a game of skill. Just like some poker players, people spend an awful lot of time researching statistics and probabilities. But most in-play betting takes away a lot of this skill and this strategy.

Enter the reigning American doofus of the day, social media maniac/boxer Jake Paul, who recently announced that he would be teaming up with Simplebet co-founder Joey Levy to launch a micro-betting app called Betr.

From a business perspective, their timing couldn’t be, uh, better. On a recent earnings call, Sportradar CEO Carsten Koerl called in-play betting “unstoppable”, adding: “Without a doubt, once it starts you can’t reverse it. .” And like Sports handleMatt Rybaltowski of , recently reported, DraftKings just rolled out a new micro-betting market for Major League Baseball pitching speeds, while BetMGM noted in May that its play handle had increased by 160% from one year to the next.

All told, you can hardly rock a dead cat — presumably strapped to a bottle rocket and used as a prop in one of Paul’s YouTube videos — these days without hearing the words “in game”, “in game” or “micro-bets.

In a just-published interview with New York magazine, Paul talked about the “TikTokification” of sports betting and how he and his friends will bet on just about anything, all the time.

“When we’re all together in a house, there must be at least two bets every hour,” he boasted.

In New YorkThe article by Lisa Power, director of the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers, reportedly said: “By mentioning TikTok, they’re basically saying, ‘We’re introducing this to very young people. What we do know is that the more young people start playing, the more likely they are to develop a problem later on.

In response, Levy said the only way for Betr to become something “that’s going to last for the next 20 to 30 years” is to “really champion responsible gambling and be incredibly focused on that”.

As a reminder, Levy’s business partner in this venture is Paul, a person not widely recognized for practicing or promoting restraint in, well, anything.

“It’s the smartest thing he’s ever done,” Soper said, when assessing Paul’s business acumen when launching Betr. Then again, Soper added, “He’s going to suck so many kids and ruin lives.”

Whyte said: “We are concerned that many of these influencers have not demonstrated strong social responsibility through their brand or platform, and we are concerned that they are taking an approach equally irresponsible to gambling and sports betting.”

“Just because Jake Paul tends to appeal to a much younger audience, and I’m a big fan of turning 21 to play, it’s a bit dangerous to put that in the hands of a 18-year-old or someone who doesn’t quite understand the consequences of money,” added Captain Jack Andrews (a pseudonym), professional gambler and co-founder of sports betting education site Unabated. “I’m a bit concerned about Jake Paul’s involvement and I don’t want to [his followers] to consider micro-betting as everything involved in your absorption of the sport must be a bet. ‘Is it a run or a pass? Bet now!’ It’s a kind of hyper-actualization of sports observation.

living on the edge

Given that he makes his living in the sports betting business, Andrews isn’t necessarily opposed to micro betting and is, in fact, quite optimistic about the broader gaming industry.

“As a sharp bettor, I like in-play betting because it’s harder for the bookmaker to spot sharp action,” he explained. “There’s really no closing line value because the line is always moving. It’s not necessarily indicative of how sharp the bettor is. I can disguise my action in the game much better, get that edge, and the bookmaker doesn’t quite see that advantage.I personally believe that sportsbooks are so blinded by this belief that gambling is where they belong that they don’t see the wins and losses.

“The problem I have with micro betting is that the house edge is very high in these markets,” he continued. “What will be the result of this at-bat? You have four options. You can generally expect to have an 18-25% hold in this market, and that’s hard for any bettor to overcome, a sharp or a four or otherwise. Joey Levy also founded Simplebet, which handles all of these micro betting markets. I would like to see more competition so that the house edge goes down and people try to be price competitive.

Echoing Whyte’s sentiment somewhat, Andrews compared micro-betting to slot machines, explaining: “Instead of having three hours for your bet to resolve, you have 30 seconds and then you can make another bet. . If the recreational bettor sees it as it is, if they are okay with it, it is their choice to play or not. It’s not like it’s misleading. I would say parlays from the same game are more misleading because you don’t necessarily understand the math around them.

Returning the favor, Whyte added: “I think the bets are particularly difficult for the average bettor to understand. But it can be fun and also appeal to recreational players who are not strategy oriented. Some of the elements that make micro betting entertaining can make it more appealing to a recreational player, and that could be a good thing. It’s like the lottery – the odds are probably very bad. If you know it, then have fun with it.

Will it even work?

Professional sports bettor Bill Krackomberger has a simple rule when it comes to in-play betting: never place a live bet unless it’s during a commercial break.

“I would be worried about being put in a queue where you’re going to be on a delay where they already have a seven-second TV delay and another five-second AM frequency delay,” he explained. “You’re on 12 seconds and you’re queued for another five to eight seconds, now you’re on 20 seconds. Now you want to add a mic? Oh man. I don’t think we let’s still be here as a sports betting community.

To that end, Keith Whyte said, “I think micro betting exploits the information asymmetry between the books, the data management companies and the individual player.”

Krackomberger and Whyte have an unlikely ally in Deck Prism Sports co-founder Ed Miller, whose company, with financial backing from Las Vegas Sands, recently merged with Huddle Gaming to form Huddle Tech. Miller and his Deck Prism co-founder Matt Davidow literally wrote the book (The logic of sports betting) on in-play betting, an experience that Miller found “terrible” until he and Davidow decided to devote their professional lives to improving it.

“There were many ways it was terrible, but the one we thought we could address was the amount of friction between the customer and getting the bet – delays with spinning wheels, bet rejections, arbitrary limits, odds moving too quickly,” Miller said. , which has counted Circa Sports among its clients. “There’s a certain threshold where if you try to make a bet and it doesn’t go through, if it happens frequently enough, at some point people are going to get fed up and say, ‘Forget it, I’ll go do something else.’ All this friction is a defensive measure. The book wants to avoid being exploited, and we thought we could solve that problem with technology.

While it feels like it’s largely accomplished its mission of creating a “pretty clean and quick enough” live odds feed, Miller grumbled, “Another problem with some of the in-play bets is that when bets pass the vig is really high This is something the books do to protect against the sharper customer but it degrades the experience of the casual customer The book isn’t worried about a guy who bets $5; he worries about a more sophisticated bettor betting $500.

In a perfect word, he said, “I think these could be good fair products that are fun and don’t cost a recreational bettor a ton of money.”

Although he declined to comment specifically on Levy and Paul’s business, Miller said, “Micro betting is almost a marketing term that some companies have invented. But creating odds feeds is a difficult problem. I think sports betting is going to struggle with these products.

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