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Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series on in-game sports wagering. Today: The history and an overview.

The origin of in-game bets in Las Vegas is commonly traced back to Cantor Gaming’s emergence a decade ago.

But that’s not accurate. It actually goes back more than two decades.

That’s when the late Sid Diamond, a Nevada bookmaking legend, started his own version of in-game sports wagering over the counter at the Excalibur on the Las Vegas Strip.

“It was the mid ‘90s,” said Vinny Magliulo, a former vice president of race and sports at Caesars Palace who has nearly four decades of sports book experience. “Sid started ‘Sports Action.’ He had a product where you could bet on the result of the next play. In other words, will the next play result in a first down? Or will the next play result in a touchdown? That is the actual roots of in-game wagering in Nevada.”

Magliulo said Diamond’s in-game betting system became available at Bally’s, too, but it all lasted only about a year. The industry and the bettors just weren’t quite ready for it yet.

In-game wagering has developed several other aliases over the years, including “live betting,” “in-play,” “in-progress” and “in-running.”

Call it what you want, it’s the act of making a wager on an event that has already started, and it is far and away the fastest growing area in the sports book industry in the United States.

More bets are actually placed in-game in Europe than before the game, largely because the product is ideal for a slow-moving sport such as soccer.

Cantor (now CG Technology) picked up on the success of in-game overseas and brought that to Las Vegas. William Hill, a popular European bookmaker, came to the U.S. and helped take it to another level in recent years.

Now, nearly every sports book offers some version of in-game betting. “It was originally designed by the European markets for tennis and soccer,” said Jason McCormick, director of race and sports for Station Casinos. “It’s really still in its infancy for American sports. You’re only going to see it get stronger.”

The most common form of live betting is an adjusted line for the point spread, total and money line with the outcome determined by the final score of the game. The odds will have been adjusted based on the developments of the game to that point.

The straddles usually begin at 30 cents compared to 20 cents in pre-game or halftime wagering. In other words, both sides will lay -115 on the point spread (bet $115 to win $100) on in-game bets compared to -110 both ways (bet $110 to win $100) before the game or at halftime.

That extra juice serves as additional built-in protection for the bookmaker. Players have to aware of the juice on the point spreads because it can get much costlier than -115 on one of the sides at times.

The point spreads and totals for in-game odds also typically include a hook (half-point) that avoids any pushes. The line will be 7.5 or 8.5, not 8. The total will be 48.5 or 49.5, not 49.

Although some in-game wagers can still be made over the counter at sports books during commercial breaks, the best way to bet during a game is unquestionably over a mobile app, which requires a sign-up and deposit process at the casino.

The app version of in-game wagering is driven primarily through algorithms. That computer-generated data spits out the numbers based on the circumstances of the game at that time – what the score is, the time remaining, which team has the ball, etc.

The pre-game line still factors into the equation, especially early in the game. A team could be trailing but still be the favorite on the in-game betting line. That was the case, for instance, after Clemson took a 7-0 lead over Alabama in the college football championship game.

Many sports books rely on Sportradar to provide these in-game odds.

“All the games that we’re doing in-play on, they actually have people at the games that are giving them all the information (several seconds before bettors can see via the delayed television feed),” McCormick said.

The Westgate SuperBook offers two types of in-game wagering depending on the event. For some games, it’s just the spread, total and money line, which get posted during commercial breaks, both over the counter and on the app.

With other games, there are many more wagering options – some in the form of proposition-type bets – that can be available even as play is ongoing, or at least between plays, but that’s only on the app.

During Sunday’s AFC playoff game between New England and the Los Angeles Chargers, Station Casinos had nearly 20 different ways to bet in-game on its app, including whether the final score would be odd or even, which team would score next, which team would be the first to 10, 15 or 20 points, etc.

As technology helps deliver data in near real time, the in-game menu undoubtedly will expand, including bets similar to what Diamond was taking two decades ago

He really was ahead of his time. Technology has had to catch up to him.

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