How Are Sportsbooks Tackling In-Play Betting During NFL Season?

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In-play betting

Americans are not just betting your standard sides, totals and moneylines as the market slowly natures. In-play betting and from that, microbetting, is becoming increasingly popular among US bettors. 

According to DraftKings director of race and sportsbook operations Johnny Avello, 16% of the operator’s NFL bets last year were in-play wagers. Avello expects that number to increase a few ticks in 2022. 

Meanwhile, PointsBet US CEO Johnny Aitken said on the company’s latest earnings call that in-play betting is expected to represent 75% of all bets in the US within the next three years. 

College game produces $1 million in-play handle

B2B provider SimpleBet reported earlier this month that it handled more than $1 million in microbets (wagers on smaller, immediate outcomes) on its drive and play markets for providers including DraftKings during the Clemson-Georgia Tech game. It was the first time that happened in a regular-season college football matchup, the company confirmed. 

“I’m not surprised. It’s kind of the way it’s going,” Avello told LSR. “I think the number was 16% of all our bets last year on the NFL were in-game wagers, so that’s a pretty big number. And it’s only going to continue to expand and grow.” 

What to expect in 2022 

PointsBet NFL trading manager Sam Garriock said the operator will offer increased lightning bet markets during the NFL season:

Avello said DraftKings is concentrating on player props “for instance, the next play, will it be a run? How far will that run be? With receiving, how many yards will it be? We’re kind of carving down to a lower level in getting into some of the more intricate stuff for microbetting.” 

DraftKings microbetting in-play markets

Through SimpleBet, DraftKings users will be able to wager on the following:

What the future holds 

In developing in-play markets, Garriock emphasized that providing context is key. He added that PointsBet has a few more markets in the pipeline such as: 

“A little bit more into the future is incorporating players — will Josh Allen throw for at least 30 yards on this drive? What will his longest pass completion be?” Garriock said. 

Competitors weigh in

“BetMGM will continue offering live betting with even more live betting on player props,” BetMGM sports trader Christian Cipollini said in a statement. 

“This year we’ll have more real-time live markets than ever before and will be continually adding to those offerings on a regular basis,” Caesars head of sports Ken Fuchs said in a statement.

Latency issues for microbetting 

Garriock explained the difficulty for traders during games. 

“As a trader, you can consistently be a little bit defensive and worried about the rare situation of the client who is at the stadium and able to pick you off,” Garriock said. “Or suspending on third down because if a client is able to see that you’re in a pass formation vs. a rush formation, they may be able to get a little edge there. But what we’re trying to do is remove as many situations from unnecessary suspensions as possible.

“We use a data-driven approach to reduce suspensions to the lowest possible amount.”

Bettors don’t want delays

Improving latency issues, avoiding suspensions and increasing uptime is imperative for online sportsbooks. Sometimes, live bets can be delayed, with the bettor thinking they are getting one number, only to get another following the lag. Bettors can also be burned by watching on streaming, which can be more delayed than the TV feed.

Garriock said it’s up to online sportsbooks to offer a disclaimer, pointing out that potential issue. 

Avello explained in detail:

“Always remember that you’re trying to bet, but there’s thousands of others out there trying to bet the same thing, and as bets come in some sharp action could move it from +140 to +130. Everyone can’t get the same number. 

“If we feel that we put up the number and sophisticated players are betting it, we have to move it. Sometimes, that doesn’t sit well with the customer thinking they’re gonna get +140, but you have to realize that in-game wagering is so fast. 

“It’s not like it’s up for a very long time, it’s going to change every time that a sharp wager comes in. That’s why you sometimes see where the price is different. It’s not like we’re moving the number based on no money. We’re moving it based on sharp action coming in.” 

How will in-play betting limits work?

The thought in the industry is that bettors might not be as limited playing micromarkets as they will playing standard markets. 

“It’s not like the game itself, but there are some guys — and depending on who the customer is — the limits are certainly different,” Avello said. “There’s a set limit — some guys are getting $500, some guys are getting $1,000, some guys are getting $5,000. It’s based on the customer, loyalty to DraftKings, and the kind of action that a person gives us overall.” 

Avello continued: “You’re going to get a bigger bet on the side, total and moneyline — those are the core markets. Those are the markets that we have more liquidity in. The micromarket bets are going to be smaller in size compared to those.”

Dormant summer could become lucrative fall

Garriock said PointsBet plans to offer a standard -107 line as opposed to -110 on pre-match and in-play markets.

 “It feels like everyone has just woken up after a long sleep,” Garriock said. “It was just a dormant summer that has now come out of hibernation. We’re seeing a flurry of activity on the NFL and college football Week 1. 

“I don’t think there’s any new trends, but over time people are just moving more into player props rather than just the meat and potatoes of sides, totals and moneylines. You’re starting to see a little bit more of a diverse range of wagers.”