September 13, 2021 Sports Betting

Stay in the Game


Evan Schaffner, Kambi’s US general manager and head of partner success, Americas, speaks about how in-game and instant betting comprise the key battleground for US sportsbooks.

The quality of a sportsbook’s in-game offering is increasingly the key differentiator between an excellent sports betting experience and merely a good one.

Providing this requires a supply chain capable of delivering on all levels, beginning with the integration of official data partners and proven algorithms that process the data, followed by excellence in trading and risk, which must all be supplied through a fast and intuitive front end. Only when these elements are working in perfect harmony can an operator begin to deliver a best-in-class in-play service.

Looking to the burgeoning US betting market, the ratio of in-game wagering is steadily rising as bettors become more familiar with regulated sports wagering. The appetite was there from the onset following the repeal of PASPA, with Kambi finding that over half of US bettors placed an in-play wager within their first five bets of joining in April 2019, and overall engagement levels with our live offering continue to rise steadily in 2021.

A key contributing factor to growing in-game engagement is the regulation of mobile betting. In states that have introduced mobile betting, as opposed to solely on-property, the rate of engagement with the in-play offering is understandably larger – with mobile being more conducive to in-play betting – and the split between pre-match and live is much closer on mobile than on-property. That being said, Kambi’s on-property kiosks narrow this gap more than one would suspect, providing the in-game experience with a more natural platform on-property than was previously possible.

A crucial part of providing sports bettors a compelling live experience is prioritizing innovation and development in the offering, and ensuring that we are providing the most up to the minute and relevant betting options possible.

Kambi has consistently focused on the roll-out of instant markets. These are markets where bets are placed and settled swiftly, such as whether the next shot in basketball will be a two or three-pointer.

Illustrating Kambi’s strong heritage in this field, we were the first sportsbook to pioneer the now ubiquitous ‘next point’ market in tennis, in addition to offering cutting edge instant markets on sports including soccer and golf. We also worked extensively to ensure our range of instant markets for US sports was market-leading prior to the repeal of PASPA.

US sports evidently lend themselves to offering a compelling instant betting experience. If we take MLB and the NFL as examples, the frequent breaks in play provide ample opportunities for our partners’ customers to assess their options and place in-game bets that will be settled by the time the next pause comes around. We also offer an extensive range of markets and low delays in more fast-paced sports such as basketball, which demonstrate the highest level of in-play engagement of the four major US sports.

More broadly, US sports have multiple discrete units, which can be broken down, providing the data and quantifiable outcomes through which bets can be settled. They can be segmented by halves and quarters, all the way down to more granular outcomes such as next drive or next field goal.


Instant betting’s unstoppable rise

During the 2021 NFL season, handle generated by instant markets in the US rose by 400% year-on-year. Building on another first for Kambi, our ‘result of current drive market,’  we added new markets in the form of ‘to gain first down’ and ‘next play’ – relating to whether the next play will be a pass or a rush. Instant markets now account for 20% of all NFL turnover, underlining the potential they hold to drive player engagement. Plus, Kambi was the only sportsbook to offer instant markets on the MLB World Series in 2020.

Our unique ‘result of pitch’ market accounted for close to a quarter of Kambi’s live turnover throughout the length of the competition, further demonstrating the importance of a sophisticated instant betting offer when it comes to driving consistent engagement with the sportsbook.

The power and complexity under the hood required to present a comprehensive range of instant markets in a seamless manner to the bettor, with low delays, cannot be overstated, nor can the expertise this requires in proprietary pricing. The growing popularity of instant betting clearly illustrates the need for a best-in-class sportsbook, underpinned by proven, high-performance technology to meet demand.

Also, instant markets can provide a real point of differentiation for sportsbooks by appealing to a variety of player types and extending the lifetime of a sporting event where the result may have been decided early in the game. The markets tend to generate a greater proportion of engagement as the final result becomes more apparent, which illustrates how an effectively deployed instant betting offer helps deliver a more engaging sports betting product, and drive greater share of wallet and meaningful enhancements to the bottom line for our partners.

Crucially, Kambi has found that US players who engage with instant betting place more wagers overall during a game, illustrating the impact a high-quality instant offering can have in not only attracting players, but having those players demonstrate higher levels of engagement with the sportsbook.

In-game betting will continue to be a key battleground where business is won and lost in the US. We are still far from the end of the journey, and as we are able to access ever-more granular and rapid authoritative data, we’ll be able to innovate and introduce even more markets for our partners’ customers to engage with. When it comes to building market share in the US sports betting space, having a quality instant offering is fast becoming an ever-more important component.

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