NBA Commish, NHL Owner Bullish On “In-Game” Sports Betting in U.S.?

Posted on April 30, 2015
Posted By on April 30, 2015

An interesting confluence of comments and news came on the subject of “in-game” betting in the United States in the past week, including a mention of it by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

‘In-game’ betting?

In-game betting goes by a number of different names — including “in-play” wagering or live betting. But it all boils down to the same idea: betting on something to occur during a sporting contest, after play has already started.

The niche type of sports betting exists in the United States, but it’s not terribly widespread. In-game betting only accounts for 10 to 15 percent of the Nevada sportsbook handle at properties that offer it (according to this report at

In-game betting is far more common overseas, especially in Europe. It is most popular in soccer, where the slow pace of the game lends itself to betting on outcomes within the game (i.e. who will score the next goal).

So that was why it was interesting that the topic of in-game betting came up in several different ways in the U.S. sports scene in the past few weeks.

Silver, sports betting’s best friend

Silver, it has been well-reported, is a proponent of having legalized, regulated sports betting in the United States. His op-ed in the New York Times and a cover story for ESPN The Magazine made that abundantly clear already.

The newest wrinkle in Silver’s sports betting stance came on an appearance on “Boomer & Carton” on CBS Sports Network last week. Mostly, he was putting out the same case for regulated sports betting we’ve heard from him before.

There was a small nugget in the interview that was pretty intriguing, however. Silver had brought up the subject of in-game prop betting Europeans do on soccer matches — more than ones — and then this exchange happened:

Host Boomer Esiason: “Well, it’s like Cantor Gaming out in Vegas, that’s what they have.”

Silver: “Exactly, and we spent a lot of time with them, studying what they are doing.”

Silver moved quickly into bringing up the topic of daily fantasy sports, but his one-off statement about Cantor (now CG Technology) certainly should raise some eyebrows.

Silver, or at least some of his staff at the league office, has apparently thought about and learned a lot about in-game betting. To what end? It would certainly be interesting to find out. But it seems safe to guess it has been done with an eye toward the future of regulated sports betting.

You can watch the interview below:

And then…

Interestingly, this news about CG came out a few days later:

It comes at a time when in-game betting has started gaining some traction in the U.S. Of course, the NFL, because of the game’s popularity and more deliberate pace, is by far the most wide-spread use of in-game betting technology in the U.S.

So a pause in wagering and a relaunch before the NFL season is hardly a huge issue for CG. It has not been publicized why the move was made, however.

But wait, there’s more…

Silver wasn’t the only one talking about in-game betting. Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, talking with Sports Illustrated Now, started his comments on sports betting by saying he thought Silver is spot on. (NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has been far less outspoken than Silver on regulated sports betting.)

Here’s part of what he said (or watch here):

I think we’re living in this real-time, technical trading world, and there’s so much betting that goes on. I think this first iteration that we’re seeing, with the DraftKings kind of phenomenon and this daily interactive gaming, it makes sense. You’re going to have wallets on your phone. People now are going to start to make wagers in a real-time way. You know, “I think he’s going to make a pass instead of take the shot.” And you’ll be able to instantly move money back and forth. So it’s better to get in front of it.”

Again, the idea of in-game sports betting came up, even though it’s not terribly popular in the U.S. At least not yet.

Why the talk and interest in in-game betting all of the sudden? It’s likely a coincidence. But it also shows that sports betting in general — and in-game betting in specific — are constantly on the radar of the major U.S. sports leagues.

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Dustin Gouker

Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.

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