In addition to the option of placing traditional bets on game outcomes, such as the over/under and point spread, bettors can wager money on the result of individual drives during each contest. For example, would the Washington Football Team cross the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 20-yard line on a given drive? Would a certain possession culminate in a touchdown, field goal, turnover or punt?
Those are two examples of what the technology company Simplebet refers to as micro markets, a new category of in-game sports betting that Simplebet and its investors are banking on becoming the next big thing in online wagering.
In-game wagering accounts for more than 70 percent of all sports betting in Europe, according to Front Office Sports.
“It’s an important moment for us and our company to get live in a big market like D.C.,” Simplebet co-founder and chief executive Chris Bevilacqua said in a phone interview. “Our whole mission is evangelizing the entertaining value of in-game betting, and I think we’re about to hit an inflection point. Coming out of the pandemic, 2021 is going to be a big year for the whole industry.”
GambetDC’s in-game betting feature is made possible by Simplebet’s proprietary technology, which uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and historical data to re-price the odds for thousands of different outcomes, or micro markets, in real time throughout the game. The odds of a given drive resulting in a touchdown, for instance, are automatically recalculated after each play, based on the down, distance and line of scrimmage. Users may place a bet at those odds up until the start of the next play, at which point the market is temporarily frozen.
“We create the markets, we suspend them, we re-price them and result them through automation,” Bevilacqua said. “That all happens in a matter of minutes and seconds, depending on the actual market.”
The result is thousands of potential games within the game, a type of wagering that Simplebet figures will appeal to more casual bettors. For now, GambetDC is offering in-game wagering only on drive outcomes. Eventually, Bevilacqua said, users will be able to bet on the outcome of every play. Imagine wagering $5 on whether Patrick Mahomes’s next completion will be for 10 or more yards, or if Lamar Jackson’s next run will result in a touchdown.
Simplebet plans to offer real-money NBA and MLB micro-market betting through Intralot, which launched GambetDC in May, and other partners in markets beyond D.C. in the coming months. Using the same technology, it recently launched free-to-play games for the NBA and NFL on the online daily fantasy and sportsbook site FanDuel.
Until then, GambetDC is offering something its competitors are not. The app got off to a slow start, falling well short of its revenue projections last year, in part because it offers worse odds than offshore bookies and the William Hill sportsbook at Capital One Arena.