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Side Bets

Sports betting legalization has released a landslide of companies that have products and services that can move the North American market forward rapidly

Side Bets

Happy Anniversary. As the one-year milestone of the U.S. Supreme Court’s repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act looms, the sport betting party ramps up.

American markets seek instant sports-wagering readiness. The moment states legalize the process, operators need full betting menus for a new breed of gambler.

A massive, and mobile, change greets the sports-betting world. Although classic brick-and-mortar operations remain prominent, mobile accessibility already dwarfs the standard book in newly regulated markets.

Casinos don’t have time to debate and build sports-wagering vehicles. They turn to the pros, from across the pond, to help them now. Skilled European-based outfits deliver immediate turnkey effectiveness, borne from decades of operation and the foresight to embrace an imminent American gaming avalanche.

The gates have opened, the gamblers streamed through and euphoria reigns. Wagers flood in: pre-game, post-game and in-game. There is prop-bet mania and bets measured in seconds, taking “time is money” to a new dimension. Parlays. What’s the next play? How many free throws will be sunk, at $1 apiece if one participates in a promo? You name it, someone books it.

This is a whirlwind time, comparable to the launch of other gambling eras.

Remember the advent of Atlantic City gaming, when bettors spread rows deep behind a craps table hurled chips through the air, from the back, in the middle of a dice roll? Like buzzer-beaters. Many of the bets were accepted as order met the overflow. It seemed like nothing would match that fever-pitched, controlled chaos.

Until now. Gaming found another unique, utopian intersection. Players with trigger-happy gambling fingers find exotic, sophisticated menus. Everything, all the time, with potentially rich payouts. It’s a wagering feast. The all-you-can-eat gambler has walked into Wolfgang Puck.


Betting Big on U.S. Market

Kambi made history by becoming the first sports-betting supplier to process online wagers in the United States, post-PASPA, last year. It followed the launch of the Kambi-powered DraftKings Sportsbook in New Jersey.

The Sweden and London-based powerhouse will do more than process bets this year. It makes a wager, announcing plans to set up its first American office in Philadelphia during the second quarter of 2019.

What a time to do it.

Max Bichsel, the company’s United States director, says the industry sees more operators turning to third-party sports book solutions for today’s regulated markets.

“The repeal of PASPA was a major moment for Kambi,” Bichsel indicates. “The U.S. market has always been in our thoughts and plans, and we have been careful to build a business that we felt would give us the best chance of success in the United States, whenever the prohibition was to be lifted.

“Since taking that first legal online sports wager post-PASPA, we have dominated the market in the Garden State and are now also the market leader in Pennsylvania due to our on-property expertise, another product area we realized would be key in the U.S. Pending the expansion of sensible regulation in other states, the United States could be the largest market for Kambi in the next three to five years.”

Kambi covers all sports, he says. In 2018, it offered more than 300,000 pre-game events with almost half covered live. In Europe, soccer is the No. 1 sport, while tennis is also popular, particularly in-play where players are able to wager from the first point to the last. Basketball and hockey are also popular in Europe, while the NFL has been growing quickly of late, particularly in the United Kingdom with NFL games increasingly being staged in London, Bichsel indicates.

“We offer the most flexible sports book platform on the market,” he continues. “One of our partners recently described our sports book platform as a ‘blank canvas’ because there are no limits to what operators can create using our technology. In addition, we offer the same high-quality product on-property as we do online. We are a true multi-channel operator. Our kiosks offer the same intuitive experience you’d expect online, not to mention the same depth of market. Our kiosks have really caught the imagination of the wagering public. We now have approximately 100 in operation across the two states; we are active with more than half of all on-property bets being placed through these terminals.”

Bichsel says the company has two major product launches this year. Kambi was set to roll out the bet builder, enabling players to make same-game parlays, early in the year. Initially designed for soccer, this will be widened out for all major sports.

“Although not new to the market, the Kambi bet builder has been built with cash-out and in-game betting enabled, which isn’t the case with other versions,” he says. “We are also releasing another innovation later in the year, which we are all very excited about, but that’s about as much as I can say on it right now.

“In general, we’ll continue to improve and iterate what is already the market-leading sports book product, both online and on-property. Late last year, we made 700-plus releases, with each release relating to an improvement to the sports book experience, and we’ll continue to look for those inch-by-inch gains in 2019.”

Mobile is the single biggest platform for sports wagering, bar none, he adds. In mature European markets, mobile generates approximately 80 percent of revenues, and similar numbers, if not larger, are already coming out of New Jersey.


Constructing A Winner

BetConstruct is an award-winning developer and provider of online and land-based gaming solutions with development, sales and service centers all around the globe. It is based in London.

The company’s innovative and proven offerings include an extensive range of products and services, including sports book, sports data solutions, skill games and fantasy sports.

And now a scouting report! “Got a hunch, bet a bunch” is a fabled wagering axiom. Well, here comes the hunch, some insight one can observe before betting. It’s called AJNA, tied to the Hindu sense of intuition.

The data feed solutions provider of BetConstruct presented a more refined and accurate solution for data scouting. It is used in soccer (or football) in Europe and will spread to other sports.

Contemplating the ways of providing sporting data in a faster and more efficient manner, the company developed a feed solution enhanced with AI/ML, named it AJNA and made its biggest splash at ICE in London with a live demonstration. Translated as a third eye, it is an augmented live video streaming companion. It recognizes game flow of the sporting events, provides advanced player tracking in live mode and collects more technical data to create new, unique markets to bet on.

“Machine learning penetrates IT sectors, and as a forward-looking company, we seek the ways to infuse our solutions with methods of automated data analysis,” says company founder and CEO Vigen Badalyan.

“The concept of our solution has its roots in Hindu tradition, the third-eye chakra (said to reveal insights about the future) called Ajna specifically. The on-field observation of a scout provides rather accurate data, whereas the augmented streaming reveals insights to the game flow that a human eye can’t see. With AJNA, we enrich our sports betting offering with additional augmentation and more statistical data gathered.”

The solution consists of a single or double camera setup. As it delivers the streaming, the AJNA solution does an auto field geometry detection from the video. Within a few minutes, the powerful eye of FeedConstruct identifies field scheme and corners, having video frames transformed and sent to the tracking system one by one.

During the match, AJNA recognizes events like ball possession, danger, etc. It also offers an extended personal tracking like player’s speed or distance run per game. Such collected statistics can be converted into a number of markets to bet on.

As for now, FeedConstruct has developed AJNA to provide full live on-field coverage of football with a further intention to expand the coverage for more sports types.


Genius Strategy

Betgenius, based in London, was perfectly primed to embrace the burgeoning American market. It has provided sports data and betting technology to licensed operators in regulated markets around the world, according to Andrew Patterson, its U.S. commercial partnerships manager.

And the world just became Americanized. The company employs more than 120 people across the U.S., and expects that number to grow. Betgenius provides operational expertise for operators who must hit the ground instantly, especially before the college and professional football season.

“If you’re a New Jersey casino starting a sports book from scratch, for example, Betgenius can provide pre-game and in-game betting content, risk management tools and services, and technology that helps acquire new customers through highly targeted online marketing campaigns,” he says. “We offer operators the flexibility to help them set up and manage their businesses. While we offer a full turnkey sports book solution if required, our systems are engineered in a modular fashion, so that our technology can be tailored to meet our customers’ specific requirements.”

In one example, he indicates, Betgenius provides a U.S. retail book with a bespoke, end-to-end price and risk management service that includes live sports data feeds, both pre-game and in-play odds creation, and management across all major sports.

Patterson says the way his company integrates sports data into its sports book and its odds-creation technology distinguishes it from competitors.

“As part of the Genius Sports Group, our products are powered by fast, accurate and reliable data from hundreds of partnerships with sports leagues, including the NBA,” he says. “The use of the highest-quality data has many benefits. From a player’s perspective, it provides a seamless and secure live betting experience, and for the sports book, it allows them to have complete confidence in the superior quality of their in-game betting product.”

Patterson advocates bringing creativity to the craze. While in-game betting has become a huge driver of growth across the United States sports-betting industry, especially in the mobile-phone sector, he believes players want to be more selective about what and how they bet.

“The ability to offer same-game parlays on U.S. sports is necessary for any ambitious U.S. sports book, whether it be at a self-service kiosk at a casino or online,” he says. “In response to market demand, we have invested in the development of our first-of-its-kind bet builder product, which prices all same-game parlay combinations instantly, allowing sports books to offer their customers complete control.”

Amid the NBA Playoffs, for instance, a player can combine selections on the First Point Scorer, Highest Scoring Quarter and Player Steals bets within a single game and place their bespoke parlay instantly.


Shakers and Movers

New products are one identification of a vibrant market. High-level personnel moves are another.

Bet.Works, a U.S.-based technology and services company delivering advanced iGaming and sports book technologies, embraced that trend early this year.

In February, it announced plans to combine with GeoComply to speed entry into the New Jersey online gambling market. Bet.Works links its online sports betting and iGaming platform with GeoComply’s award-winning geolocation compliance solution.

The partnership enables Bet.Works to launch its online platform in New Jersey and other states and be compliant with state and federal geolocation regulations, officials assert.

“Geolocation compliance is a cornerstone of our online sports betting and iGaming platform, and by partnering with GeoComply, we’re utilizing the industry’s most trusted solution to meet stringent state and federal regulations,” says Quinton Singleton, chief operating officer of Bet.Works.

Does Singleton’s name sound familiar? It should. Singleton formerly worked for Scientific Games, where he was responsible for the rollout of U.S. sports betting. As COO of Bet.Works, Singleton focuses on market strategy and operations, and takes responsibility for delivering Bet.Works’ omni-channel sports betting and iGaming platform into existing and newly regulated jurisdictions across America.

This appointment was the second senior role that Bet.Works filled in a short time. At the beginning of January, the company announced that Dr. Laila Mintas will serve as chairwoman of its advisory board. Mintas is a former U.S. deputy president for sports data company Sportradar.

This is the launch of a heyday for sports betting operators and their vendors. The American sports-betting industry has begun sprinting like a 100-yard dash, hurling prop bets like three-pointers, and, figuratively, tossing touchdown passes.

And the game just started.

Casino Connection Sports Editor Dave Bontempo is an award-winning sports writer and broadcaster who calls boxing matches all over the world. He has covered the Philadelphia Flyers in the playoffs, as well as numerous PGA, LPGA and Seniors Golf Tour events, and co-hosted the Casino Connection television program with Publisher Roger Gros.

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