In-Game betting and the NYSE of the Sports Betting MarketDespite the convenience and speed of Internet sports books, the fundamentals of betting have remained pretty much the same for the past half century. US bettors have their pointspread, while European and Asian punters tend to favor fixed odds.
Recently however, developments spurred by the growth of the Internet look set to dramatically increase the options for the customer, such as spread betting, which has made the transition from the stock exchange to the bookmaker in recent years, and more recently, peer to peer betting.
Now, software developers 1X inc think that we are poised for a revolution in betting – in-game, market based betting.1X inc have developed Sport Markets - the technology backbone of an in-game betting platform that allows sports books to offer their players bets through brokers both pre-game and, crucially, while the game (or the tournament) is in progress.
This method of betting, though it requires an education on the part of bookmakers and the consumer, may prove far more intuitive and exciting for gamblers betting on sports that have both high scores and an extended duration. John O’ Malia of 1X inc describes the system as “peer -to-peer betting perfected”– only, unlike other peer to peer platforms, it also guarantees “market makers”, similar to how stock exchanges work. “The downfall of other peer to peer sites is that they don’t have marketmakers – and it’s hard to provide liquidity that way. Bettors have to wait until another bettor takes their bet, whereas we guarantee at least one market maker per bet.”
O’ Malia compares Sports Market (the customer interface to a bookmakers’ website) to the New York Stock Exchange: “Bettors won’t trade fast-moving in-game bets without a price guarantee, just as they would not trade Microsoft on the NYSE if the NYSE didn’t quote them a price first.” And that summarizes Sport Markets, a market maker for gamblers.
But, as with any new business model on the Internet, isn’t there the danger that it simply won’t catch on? After all, spread betting was perceived in its early days as being just too sophisticated for the average bettor. In fact, O’ Malia concedes that at the moment, in-game betting is a minority interest among online bettors. This however, is “the thin end of the wedge”. He is convinced that in the long haul, in-game peer to peer betting will effect “a fundamental shift in the way people bet” “Look at day trading on the stock exchange – it started small, but then the press got interested, there was a lot more education and information about it, and it took off, ” he says.
Curiously, the games which are less suited to in-game betting may prove the best for educating the early adopters and first timers, as lower-scoring games like soccer give the punter more time to think and place bets.
For games like Cricket and Baseball however, their lengthy nature and fast-changing scorelines make in-game betting the perfect complement to watching the game on TV. The software also supports interactive TV, which augurs well for reaching the casual gambler as well as the city slickers and the wiseguys.
And what about the Asian markets? “The Asian market has extraordinary potential. It is so exciting because the tendency for gamblers there is to keep the bet going, which is exactly what in-game and in-tournament betting is about.” 1X inc currently has three rollouts pending with (so far unnamed) western bookmakers, and one in the Chinese market.
Not every bookmaker is going to blaze the pioneer trail. “Some UK books, the ones with an established brand and big customer base, like William Hill, Ladbrokes etc, have a ‘wait and see’ attitude to in-game betting – they want to see how the market and the technology shapes up before risking their brand with it.” Says O’ Malia.
Whether in-game peer to peer betting is indeed the betting revolution 1X inc. say it is, remains to be seen. But I wouldn’t bet against it carving out a tidy niche over the next few years.