Thanks to acquaintances at Don Best, a worldwide leader when it comes to sports information, there was a recent opportunity to see the future of sports wagering. Old timers such as myself can choose to ignore it or say the relatively new take on sports betting could never be popular in the United States. However, if we believe that, we would be wrong, completely and totally wrong. Wrong with a capital W.
Craig Mucklow, 44, an advanced degreed mathematician with an emphasis on probability and statistics, provided my recent look into the future. He’s currently the vice president of trading services at Don Best Sports. When I joined him to watch what they call “trading” in his Las Vegas office, he was certainly the smartest guy in the room, as they say.
That didn’t take much. However, when it comes to sports betting he may be the smartest guy in any room.
There’s some new wagering syntax and language that rookies such as myself need to learn and understand. First, “trading” refers to almost instantaneous online wagering largely conducted by the massive online betting companies that now do business around the world. So-called “trading” is in its infancy currently in this country. Secondly, “markets” mean what’s generally called betting pools in the United States.
Don Best doesn’t accept any wagers or engage in any actual trading or bookmaking. They do not provide their trading services to any illegal sites, only to countries where its clients are licensed and regulated and where bookmaking is completely legal. The customers are in Mexico, Asia and all over Europe, among other locales.
What they do in an ultra high tech, almost instantaneous way, is provide statistics, betting lines, analysis and any other pertinent information you can think of to worldwide clients who do the actual bookmaking. Additionally, Mucklow and the others on his staff provide a breakdown of results for clients so each can determine if its profit goals, usually about 5 percent of handle, have been achieved. Another byproduct of the service allows the customer to learn, through statistical analysis, what it can do better.
If you know what day trading is in the stock market you can easily relate to Don Best’s trading services operation.
Among my many takeaways from watching Mucklow provide the data stream enabling Don Best clients to “trade” a recent game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Brooklyn Nets is that this could be the fast-paced action the huge domestic gambling companies are seeking to finally engage the younger generation. Watching the Trail Blazers and the Nets go at it was a real life struggle that, for a sports fan who likes to take a betting shot, has to be better than any video game.
Why? Because it’s real and a video game is not. The younger generation seems to crave what it considers reality. Just examine the popularity of so-called reality television programming.
The solution to the challenge in the gaming world to get millennials to better enjoy wagering might not only be under the gaming giants’ collective nose, it is in fact already operational.
Mucklow was one of the originators of “in-game” wagering about 20 years ago in his native England. The idea was way ahead of the technology and the availability of the data needed to make book. However, now with the growth and speed of the Internet, the Don Best staff is receiving information on their computer screens nearly as it happens. As Mucklow and the others monitor a basketball game, they view the score change from a missed free throw and such even before it appears on a live television feed. The slight transmission delay as a television signal is bounced off a satellite in space is just a tad slower than the live data feed from the game.
Don Best provides its clients roughly 120 different betting options in an NBA game. Each NBA game is the subject of millions and millions of dollars in worldwide betting action. The game I watched, starting at noon in the Eastern Time Zone, was highly wagered because it started at a more favorable time all over Europe where “in-game” betting is ultra popular.
Watching the action during the game was certainly an eye-opening experience.
Next week: More on the fast-paced, data-driven world of “in-game” wagering.