A Look At The Operational Challenges Of Super Bowl Betting
Our SVP, Sportsbook, Keith O'Loughlin and Senior Director, Global Trading, Glen Saville reveal all to BettingUSA.com
The Importance of the Super Bowl in the Betting World
What makes this a special event from a trading perspective?
Glen Saville: There are a couple of aspects that jump out. Firstly, there is the sheer breadth of betting opportunities that the game provides and that the market demands. This year, we have spent several weeks putting together a list of markets that we are going to offer. At the last count, we were up to 700 different markets. It is such a big event that it allows our team to get creative in coming up with a whole range of new markets – much more so than we would be able to for a regular-season match.
There are several novelty markets that get attached to this too, such as the colour of the sports drink that gets thrown at the coach, or what the opening song will be in the half time show. This creates additional complexity when it comes to trading.
For the key markets like the money line spread and the totals, while it’s the most important match of the year and the one with the biggest turnover, the market is pretty settled and we don’t expect much movement.
Keith O’Loughlin: This year’s event encapsulates everything that is magical about sports and betting within the US. The population here is probably the most invested and embedded in its sport over and above anywhere else in the world.
Every game is a long-lasting event and even in the regular season, you get trucks pulling up hours beforehand for people to enjoy a pre-match BBQ next to the stadium. Sport is far more of a religious experience in the US than it is anywhere else. You add that fervour for sport generally with the fact that all eyes of sports fans focus on football; and within football, all eyes focus on its pinnacle.
It encapsulates the nation and it’s as big as any national sporting event anywhere. Over the last couple of years, being able to have a bet on ‘The Big Game’ has for so many people only added to the magic of it.
Preparation is the Name of the Game
What is the scale of preparation that goes into the big day for traders?
GS: It’s pretty intense and it’s all to do with the creation and management of a huge number of markets. Two of our traders have spent the majority of the last four weeks working through what our offering is, and then customising that offering for each of our customers. It’s not a case of one size fits all.
The intensity over the final week will be about making sure what we are putting out is accurate, across all the markets and across all the price movements that will occur. Given the importance of this game, we might have three or four traders on it, all trading various components of the game or various components for different customers. This game certainly gets treated very differently to any normal event.
KOL: Over the last six months, we have been engaging with our customers and taking their feedback, ascertaining if there is any particular flavour they want to add, or any differentiation they want to include within their big-game offering. It’s a process that has taken over half a year and the intention is to ensure that we can bring all our expertise to bear in taking every additional step that is required for an event of this magnitude.
Dealing with the Strain of the Traffic Spike
What sort of strain does the weight of betting on the day place on the platform and where are the pinch points?
KOL: For the US, our OpenSports platform is known to be bulletproof at scale. As we effectively have a platform in every state, it means we possess so much more firepower to be able to support our customers.
I never want to become complacent so we take every big event as with absolute focus and leave nothing to chance. It’s clearly the biggest spike of the year in terms of betting activity, but we go into it with confidence that we will ensure that every player gets to wager on the markets they want to, when and how they want to.
The Evolution of Super Bowl Betting
How has the trading challenge around the big event evolved over the years?
GS: The core offering has remained similar, but where the market has evolved over the years is in the breadth and depth of markets that our systems are now helping us to offer. That means player performance markets, with receptions, rushing yards and touchdowns. Any key statistic you can think of concerning player performance, we can generally tie a market to.
Creating those interesting betting opportunities around players would be the biggest development I have seen over the last couple of years.
KOL: Since 2018, when betting was starting to roll out in the US, there has been plenty of thinking around innovation and differentiation within betting. While the big game has always been a major event across the US for betting, it didn’t generate as much turnover as it could have. That has all changed and it’s been driven by a huge spike in betting opportunities.
Within the US, to what extent is in-play betting taking off and how are the trading challenges within the NFL different compared to, for example, a less stop-start game such as soccer?
GS: A sport that has stoppages and breaks in play is ideal for creating betting opportunities, whereas with soccer for example it’s so free-flowing and non-stop that it does limit your ability to trade markets in-play. A game that stops frequently allows for these micro betting opportunities and in a sport like US football, we are not even all the way there yet in terms of the potential for in-play.
What is going to happen on the next drive – will it be a completion; will it be a pass or a rush, who will be the target? That’s where the betting industry will end up. We see an exciting one in terms of adding to the overall entertainment experience.
Feature first published in BettingUSA.com on Wednesday 3rd February