US Sports & In-Play Technology – A Perplexing Evolution

The legalization of sports wagering, via mobile applications or at a designated parlor, is a growing and expanding phenomenon in the United States. Remarkably, 2019 alone saw three more states legalize sports wagering – namely Colorado, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

With the legalization of sports betting via mobile applications being a separate entity in some cases, many bettors in ‘states where legal’ are unfamiliar with the dynamics of in-play betting, and the opportunities they offer which are unique to antepost wagering. Shown below is the comprehensive list of states where sports betting is legal and active, legal and pending, and where it is illegal.

legalization states
Correct as of 1 April 2020.

States in the latter category are divided according to the year in which they expect to have legalization in place.

What are the main features of in-play betting?

Instead of betting before the event, live sports betting (also known as ‘in-play’ betting) adds an extra degree of thrill to any online betting experience.

The most popular live betting interfaces relate to sporting events that invariably promise multiple changes (such as NFL or Major League Soccer games), but not too regularly. An example of the latter would be NBA and Tennis games, though games that fall in the latter category still have potentially lucrative live markets that are unaffected by constant change.

The probability of a team winning or losing is a prominent factor in determining how odds fluctuate. That likelihood is in turn dictated by apparent flashpoints in play – such as goals, touchdowns and home runs. There are also microelements in each game that can also have an instant effect, such as penalty cards, injuries, substitutions and even an accumulation of significant territorial advantage or possession for one team.

woman betting on her mobile phone
The ability to bet on multiple matches simultaneously is a massive draw for mobile sportsbook users.

Why are in-play odds gaining popularity over antepost odds?

While currently active antepost sports wagering prices may give the mobile bettor more time to think and peruse their options, in-play wagers provide users with an opportunity to use a team’s habits more efficiently. Take, for instance, the following statement from an antepost preview of a Major League Soccer game from 2019:

“Nine of Orlando’s last six MLS home games have seen the first goalscorer go on to win, while four of the last six MLS games played here have seen a half-time leader win with a clean sheet. For the hosts, Orlando’s last two home wins ‘to-nil’ have each seen Tesho Akindele open the scoring.”

In the context of how in-play betting has evolved over the years, that information provides some inspiration to live bettors and clue them in as to the best time to place a live wager or even when to cash out. In this example, there is a more oppressive belief than usual that Orlando will score first and win with Akindele scoring in the first half.

Stats such as those detailed in the Orlando example, partly fuel the inspiration behind successful science-based sports betting strategies. Despite this heightened expectation of such a specific outcome, that exact combination of events would still command excellent odds that would only lengthen. So too would they increase their potential payout throughout the game as time runs out, until such a time that it becomes an impossibility (e.g. a different first goalscorer or the goal coming at the wrong time)?

In many cases, the way to optimize the live betting experience lies in a team’s resilience – or lack thereof. Some teams may have a weak defence that cannot hold onto a lead, but the price against them losing or failing to win will be longer when they have taken the lead.

Meanwhile, other teams may start conservatively in attack and finish strongly. The longer they are drawing/losing, the longer their odds become, providing a much higher payout value if they win, compared to the potential winnings seen in antepost markets.

baseball feield
Flashpoints in play – such as goals, touchdowns and home runs are the primary factor in the fluctuation of live odds.

Anticipated trends in the evolving mobile wagering industry

In a reflection of how in-play betting is likely to change the wagering game forever, June 2019 saw a different type of in-play bet invented. With the new style, wagers placed inside a particular window are paid out in an instant if successful. To aid the process of placing bets through this new feature, the app in question allows users to switch between in-game stats and their list of open bets.

The integrity of in-play betting is based around two core, inextricably-linked principles – risk and reward. Ultimately, it seems as though the demand for immediate reward, in light of the risk created by the naturally impulsive nature of in-play or live betting, is set to dictate much as to how US sportsbooks grow and develop their mobile presence. So too will it force sportsbooks to innovate new ways to stay ahead of their competition, which may, in turn, increase the likelihood of users getting higher-value payouts for winning bets?

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