Mattias Stetz has long known the popularity of in-game sports betting. He worked in the industry in Europe for 12 years before joining Rush Street Interactive in 2016.
In stop-and-go sports like tennis, for example, Stetz witnessed the growth of live betting. It’s those sports that provide the ideal setting for wagering on which player will win the next point or who will win the game, set, and/or match.
Sports in the US, Stetz said, are tailor-made for in-game betting. And the newly launched SugarHouse Online Sportsbook & Casino is beginning to cash in within the New Jersey mobile sports betting market.
“It is huge in other markets, and we know that,” Stetz, now the COO for Rush Street Interactive, which operates SugarHouse online casino, said Wednesday. “So we knew it’s going to be big here as well.”
Finding a trend early at SugarHouse Sportsbook
The SugarHouse Sportsbook is still finding its footing in the mobile NJ sports betting arena. The Philadelphia-based online casino launched last week, becoming the first in the Garden State to integrate a mobile sportsbook with an existing NJ online casino.
“The excitement level is high, obviously,” Stetz said. “We’ve been waiting for this. Every day I’m excited to check on the numbers and follow the trends.”
Among the betting options for SugarHouse, more than 5 million in-game props. Why? Rush Street, Stetz said, learned from its regulated online operations in Colombia, which rolled out in June.
“We had a pretty good idea” in-game betting would become popular in the US, Stetz said. He pointed to the trends in South America, and the early indicators from New Jersey, as examples.
“In Colombia, 70 percent of all wagers are in-game,” Stetz said. “We’ve only been live for a week in New Jersey and already we’re coming close to just under 50 percent of all wagers are in-game wagers.”
Why in-game betting is popular
In a Tuesday press release, SugarHouse Sportsbook reported that heavy in-game betting on the US Open made tennis the third-most-bet-on sport with the sportsbook.
“It seems that our sports bettors really started exploring our live in-game offer last night, with both Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal playing prime time at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York,” Stetz said in the release. “Seventy percent of wagers on tennis are live in-game already.”
Speaking Wednesday, Stetz said US sports, such as baseball and football “are made for in-game betting because the nature of the game is stop-start.”
“In baseball, you have pitch after pitch after pitch. In football, you have play after play after play, and there are pauses between each play,” he said. “That allows lines to be set. The lines are updating seamlessly throughout the game.”
Additionally, in-game betting offers patrons the opportunity to place dozens of wagers within any single game or match. During the US Open, for example, SugarHouse Sportsbook will feature as many as 60 to 70 different in-game options per match. Bettors can wager on the outcomes of the match, of a set, of a game, even of the ensuing point. All told, according to SugarHouse, more than 20,000 in-game betting options will be available during the US Open alone.
The online casino and sportsbook wants to capitalize on the stop-and-start nature of most sports. Because, Stetz said, “we believe that in-game betting will play a significant role in the US market.”
‘Future of sports betting’
In-game betting “is going to be critical” for legalized sports betting, Stetz said, not just in New Jersey but also nationwide.
The format allows bettors to wait on wagering on the outcome of a game or match until a few plays into the event. Is a pitcher in the zone or having an off day? Wait for a few pitches to decide which way you want to bet. How’s the weather, and does it affect gameplay? Wait for a few plays, then wager.
That said, Stetz conceded that while the handle percentage indicates the popularity of in-game betting, the trendiness of the format will only increase more as bettors become more experienced in the legalized industry.
“It will definitely ramp up,” Stetz said. “Right now, we have a lot of new customers that have not been used to in-game betting. Traditionally, a new customer’s first and second bets are on pregame betting because that’s how betting has been done for decades. Then they start trying in-game, and it naturally becomes more interesting.”
All three mobile sportsbooks in New Jersey — SugarHouse Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook and playMGM — offer in-game betting, however minimal the options are. That, Stetz said in Tuesday’s release, provides a clear picture of what to expect in the industry.
“Live in-game betting is the future of sports betting here in the US,” he said, “and being able to offer interesting bets, even in games that are very one-sided, is something we always strive to offer our bettors.”