The SBC Summit North America shifted locales from Manhattan to the Meadowlands on Wednesday morning. But even after a late night of networking and merrymaking in the Big Apple’s core Tuesday, a microbetting panel discussion featuring Simplebet and Betr co-founder Joey Levy, among others, drew a standing-room-only crowd to kick off the festivities in Conference Room 2, which this author had the pleasure of hosting all day.
Moderator Dan Zucker, a prolific entrepreneur who had a hand in starting Sports Handle, threw things right to Levy, who said that while the soccer-obsessed European sports betting market may not be the best for his product, “the cadence of U.S. sports” — baseball in particular — “is really perfect for microbetting,” which allows a bettor to wager on multiple results (pitches, drives, possessions, etc.) within the course of the game versus just on the game itself.
But MLB and the NBA are very different animals, noted Scott Kaufman-Ross, head of fantasy and gaming for the NBA.
“We have a free-flowing sport, so we’ve been thinking about the category a little differently,” he said. “What does a microbet on the NBA look like? We want to make any microbet contextual and relevant to the fan. We can have three possessions in the span of eight seconds.”
He proceeded to describe NBA action as “a game of runs,” adding, “How do you build something around a game of runs?”
To that end, he said in-game or partial-game wagers such as first team to score 15 points make a ton of sense.
Andrew Bimson, Sportradar’s president and COO, said he thinks microbetting, which currently represents about 1-2% of all sports betting handle, will wind up being 10% of the marketplace in fairly short order. But to get there, PointsBet Chief Product Officer Mark Hughes said operators will have to provide more clarity for a betting populace that often finds this lightning-fast form of wagering confusing.
“It’s easy to know you’re betting on this drive,” he said, “but it’s not easy to know you’re betting on this play.”
Kaufman-Ross then talked about how sports betting can be further integrated into digital game broadcasts “in an opt-in way,” adding, “in the digital context, we’re going to know a lot more about the fan.”
For example, if it becomes apparent that a bettor is a Phoenix Suns fan, that person would be automatically presented with a menu of microbets that are relevant to the team.
This led Levy, who emphasized that Betr is one of the few operators that will willfully admit the house always wins over time, to discuss a scenario his company is working on where a user’s phone would feature a livestream of a game on the top third of the screen and microbetting options on the bottom two-thirds. He then pitched Kaufman-Ross on the notion of “maybe giving us one game a week” to test things out.
A good-natured Kaufman-Ross said that while he was “certainly not opposed” to Levy’s proposition, it would be just as viable to bring betting content to the live game platform as it would be to bring live game content to betting platforms.
Looking toward the future, Bimson said he hoped bettors, through access to the sort of official league data that Sportradar provides, would be able to easily learn that Celtics star Jayson Tatum shoots better than usual in the second halves of games when his team is trailing at halftime. But Levy expressed mixed emotions about microbettors’ affinity for official data, saying that while it “can be a good thing,” it could be a hindrance if it creates more friction for sites like Betr and doesn’t arm bettors with the type of information needed to stay entertained and occasionally gain an edge.