Live betting is one of the most exciting options at online sportsbooks. This is the type of wagering where you can place a bet on an event that’s already underway, such as an NBA game after opening tipoff. But despite the popularity of this relatively novel sports betting option, the live bets are often suspended. What gives?
To find out, I spoke with Jed Corenthal, CMO of Phenix, a scalable, real-time video streaming solution used for sports and racing broadcasting around the world. What I learned paints a much clearer picture of why live bets are suspended so often.
What Is A Suspended Live Bet?
A suspended live bet is a wager that’s unavailable at that moment but may be available in the future, which is why it’s still shown on the sportsbook app. In contrast, a closed bet is unavailable and isn’t displayed on the app. For example, a suspended bet may on be the “result of the next play” of an NFL game, whereas a bet on the first half of the game is closed at halftime. You can bet on the next play when the players reset, but the first half is over, so those bets have closed.
Why Is A Live Bet Unavailable?
The most likely reason a live bet is unavailable is that the play is underway, even though it may not appear that way when you’re watching the game from home.
“With broadcasters like TNT and ESPN, viewers can be 10 to 30 seconds behind the field of play as well as behind another person watching the same game,” explained Corenthal. “Streaming services and the sportsbooks who show video can be another 10 to 30 seconds behind the broadcast. Phenix is one of the few companies that can stream in real-time, meaning half a second from camera to user’s device.”
As any sports viewer knows, tons of action can occur within 30 to 60 seconds. In fact, what you’re watching may not even correspond to what’s happening on the field. The sportsbook could be a full play or two ahead of the viewer depending on how they are watching, in which case the sportsbook would suspend the bet.
In-Game Vs. In-Play
Live betting is separated into two distinct types: in-game bets and in-play bets (sometimes referred to as “micro-betting” or “micro-wagering”). An in-game bet is placed during a break in the action, such as during a timeout or at halftime. But an in-play bet is placed on something that’s happening in real-time, on the field at that moment, which is where the current technology at US sportsbooks falls short.
“In-play betting is going to be sportsbooks’ biggest vertical moving forward,” predicted Corenthal. “Rather than taking bets between quarters or during a timeout, you’d bet on someone to hit two free throws right after a foul call or if a player will hit a home run on the next pitch.”
When Live Betting Becomes Consistent
Phenix streams 80% of horse racing in the UK and Ireland, where micro-betting on horse racing is incredibly popular. That emphasizes the company’s ability to provide real-time streaming for in-play betting. Is there anything more fast-paced than a horse race (or more exciting than betting on the Kentucky Derby)?
Corenthal has a prediction: “Sportsbooks will start acquiring more video rights to create a ‘watch and bet’ experience, rather than the traditional ‘bet and watch.’ It’s already happening, with DraftKings signing a deal with Sportradar to offer Korean baseball and Bundesliga soccer streams, Bally’s signing a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group to offer regional sports, and Caesars teaming up with CBS Sports to offer live World Series of Poker.”
It’s easy to imagine a near future where bettors decide on a sportsbook based on the content they are streaming, much like how sports fans subscribe to either ESPN Plus, TNT, Paramount Plus, or Peacock TV to stream their favorite sporting events. Hopefully, though, the demand for more consistent live betting availability means fewer streaming issues. Few things are more annoying than an online stream lagging behind the cable broadcast, especially when your friends are texting you spoilers.
For now, we can move forward knowing why live bets are suspended. But, soon, we’ll look back on this as the limitations of a US sports betting industry in its infancy.