Picture this. You have done your due diligence on the upcoming big game. A little while before kickoff, you finally feel like you have a good handle on which way the game will play out. You go ahead and place your wager with the sportsbook of your choice.
After kicking back to relax and watch the game, you suddenly start feeling uneasy. This game isn’t going according to the script you had laid out. That’s tough luck for your original wager then, right?
Perhaps, but it could also be a good time to research some in-game betting scenarios for the game at hand. The above hypothetical scenario is just one example of the how and the why the sports betting marketplace has evolved and adapted to the point that live sports betting is becoming a big deal.
The popularity of live sports betting, also known as in-play or in-game wagering, continues to grow at an astronomical rate. In some of the more mature European markets, operators report upwards of 70% of their total betting handle derives from in-play wagering.
However, there also remains a lot of confusion on the topic – not to mention advocates and detractors over its use and availability.
We’re not here to pick sides, but we will do our best to clear up the confusion and help users make up their own minds on whether it makes sense for them or not.
What is Live Sports Betting?
It wasn’t too long ago that the only way to bet on sports was very similar to our fictional scenario up above. Bettors made their wagers before the game got underway and hoped for the best. As the sports betting industry evolved, so too would the options for consumers.
While bets such as the “first five innings” of an MLB game or the “first-half total” for an NBA game are relatively commonplace these days, they were a pretty far-out thought in decades past. As in all industries which strive to keep customers engaged, competition has inspired more innovation for sports betting.
The concept of in-play betting began to take hold somewhere in the 1990s. There were bookmakers who would take action on games in progress via the telephone. As the internet began to replace landlines as the tool of choice for bookmakers, in-game wagering has naturally gone along for the ride.
Of course, we should note that what’s possible today was just a dream in the infancy of the internet. Many of the live betting opportunities that we see offered today require transactions which can be processed down to the millisecond.
Both users and the sportsbooks themselves have the technology capable of supporting that now, but that wasn’t the case some two decades ago.
What Can You Wager on with Live Sports Betting?
If the sportsbooks find a market for it, then there’s a good chance you can wager on it. While that may seem like an oversimplification, it’s a good microcosm of where the sports betting market is headed. For example, let’s consider an average Super Bowl.
In addition to the regular bets on the game itself, there are also tons of different prop bets available. These bets revolve around specific instances or happenings in the game itself, and it has evolved into big business for sports betting sites.
For those new to live betting, in-game wagering helps to take the excitement surrounding Super Bowl side or prop bets and makes them part of each game and event. Naturally, that’s absent some of the more infamous Super Bowl props such as on the coin flip or on the length of the national anthem.
Once the game gets underway, the sportsbook continues to offer new wagering opportunities as the game plays out. Types of bets and specific instances will vary, and there’s simply no way to have an exhaustive list which covers every possible scenario.
However, you can take solace in the fact that the bets will generally fall into one of two categories: traditional or prop bets.
How the Live Betting Market Works
Before a game gets underway, the betting market is speaking on which way the game will play out. Bettors will know who is favored, who is the underdog, and even which games are close to being a toss-up.
After the action gets underway, the work isn’t done for sportsbook operators who offer live betting opportunities. Naturally, the odds on who is going to win or lose increase and decrease based on how the action plays out.
For traditional game bets such as “who will win” or totals, the odds will fluctuate based on what happens. Let’s say Team ABC walked onto the field as a big favorite over Team XYZ. Just seconds into the game, two of the star players on ABC suffer injuries and have to leave the game.
Suddenly, it doesn’t look like ABC should be such a huge favorite anymore. In fact, XYZ could actually steal this game. The oddsmakers are thinking the same thing, and the real-time odds on who will win are rapidly adjusted.
For prop bets, the same thing can happen. Let’s say a star player has a prop for Over/Under 100 receiving yards for the game. The player is contained in the first half and doesn’t even haul in one ball. The Under on that prop may suddenly look like a sure thing. The odds for that bet will adjust, and you can capitalize or stay away as you see fit.
Those are just two of the most basic live betting scenarios and this is the basic process whether we’re talking about betting on football or any other sport. Once again, we’ll stress that the market is growing exponentially. That means there are operators out there who offer a ton of in-game wagering scenarios.
For example, you may see bets on “who wins the 1st period” or “which team holds the lead at the half,” or other team-based results. You may also see wagering opportunities tied to the performance of individual players for a specific stretch of the game – i.e. a quarter or half.
Additionally, different events can be combined together on a parlay ticket, which would cover two or more scenarios. It’s a more risk, more reward scenario, but the odds are also stacked in the favor of the house for each scenario added.
Is In-Play Betting for You?
We promised you we wouldn’t be picking sides, and we’re sticking to that. This is a question that each sports bettor has to answer for themselves. There are some who feel that live sports betting is the greatest thing since sliced bread, as well as others who feel it’s nothing more than a crapshoot.
As with many other things in life, there’s also a big middle ground which could go either way. Here’s what we can tell you for certain: live sports betting is not for everyone. If you’re the type of person who likes to constantly be engaged, then it may be for you.
If you prefer to shut your mind off when the game comes on, then live betting might not be a good fit for you. To borrow an analogy from the world of investing, think of it like trying to decide between day trading and long-term investing.
Some may thrive with the former and stink at the latter, and vice versa. On the bright side, they are capable of figuring that out for themselves. If they decide that day trading is just not their cup of tea, then they can invest their funds elsewhere.
The same holds true for live sports betting. It’s there as an option, but it doesn’t mean that it’s for everyone or that it’s required for success in sports betting.
The Bottom Line on Live Sports Betting
Live sports betting continues to grow at a blistering rate. Many US sportsbooks already offer it as an option, and we can expect more to follow suit. This will especially be true as sports betting is legalized in more states across the nation.
Sports betting and broadcasting are becoming further intertwined, and that will only open up even more possibilities as we move forward. In-game wagering is here to stay, and it may be safe to say that the sky is the limit on both its potential reach and growth.