Rise of In Play betting in Europe and the US

Mateo Brekalo
Mateo Brekalo
Published: 6. ožujka 2024.

In recent years, the scene of sports wagering has been changed by the development of in play wagering, too known as live wagering. In play wagering alludes to the practice of setting wagers on distinctive results while the match is in progress. Unlike conventional pre-game wagering, which requires bettors to predict the outcome before the match begins, in-game betting offers a real-time experience, with odds constantly adjusting based on the unfolding events on the field.

In recent years, in play betting has surged in popularity, especially in football, the world's most followed and most wagered sport. This rise in popularity can be attributed to wider use of online gambling platforms and increased entertainment factor with bettors. Being involved in the match from the beginning to the end has a psychological impact on the bettor and gives him the feeling of better control of his bets if he follows the match live.

Rise of in play betting

In the early stages of the past decade, the significant surge of in-play betting was something everyone could foresee. In Asia, in-play betting began its growth even earlier, in the early 2000s. Sometime in the middle of the past decade, we witnessed the number of in-play wagers surpassing those placed pre-match, and today, some estimates suggest that more than 80% of wagers are made in-play. In 2018, Paddy Power, one of the largest gaming platforms in Europe, reported that their in-play wagers accounted for 70% of their total wagers made that year, while bet365 approached closer to 80%.

Europe as in play leader

Europe, with a longer betting tradition than the US, is also the leader in in-play betting. Regulations have been established for remote online gambling for a long time, and the surge of online betting has led to a significant increase in in-play prop betting. All of these factors have contributed to the current statistics, with approximately 80% of bets being placed live during the matches. In 2018, Wayne Kimmel, managing partner of SeventySix Capital, said currently 70% of all bets in the U.S. are about who will win the contest or cover the spread, with only about 2% to 3% currently being pushed toward in-game prop bets.

In play betting in the US

Outside of Las Vegas, the majority of bettors in the US are relatively new to the space. Unlike Europe, where betting has been established for a much longer period, US bettors are less experienced in the field, and the adoption of in-play betting occurred much later. The first online bets were not accepted until 2018, when New Jersey legalized online betting. Just after the first year of online betting in New Jersey, reports indicated a 17 percent increase in NBA bets, a 15 percent increase in hockey bets, and a 15 percent increase in soccer bets. For NBA, soccer, and tennis bets, at least half of the handle for those sports is attributed to in-game betting.

Popularity of In play betting

So why do bettors enjoy placing bets more in-play than pre-match? Primarily, the ability to win faster is a significant factor. In most cases, the outcome is determined more quickly than when betting prior to the match. This is also the reason why many bettors use prop bets much more than just the simple money line market. In tennis, particularly, you will see many bets placed on the next point or set rather than on who will win the match. So, the excitement that live betting offers to the bettor is similar to that of a casino, where one roulette or slot spin can trigger a range of emotions.

Excitement factor

The feeling of control while watching the game is also one of the most important factors that influence customers to make decisions during the match. Of course, these decisions can be tricky, and you might perceive a completely different scenario than what actually unfolds. It is indeed easier to recognize the momentum of a fixture if you follow it live, but it never guarantees an event will occur just because it appears likely on the field.

The entertainment aspect is something you shouldn't forget. For many centuries, humans have been betting on sports and other events and competitions. Sports events, especially football matches, are social gatherings for many bettors. To add excitement to the match, people will always place bets, enhancing the overall event experience.

Impact on odds

Pre-match betting allows you to find more value bets and pricing mistakes, while in-play odds are considered by bookmakers to be much more accurate and closer to the real value. The reason is that the market settles once the match begins, and many bets have already been placed. After the match starts, it becomes very hard to find significant deviations in pricing between bookmakers. This is why in-play matches typically have smaller margins. It is not uncommon for a market to be offered with an 8% margin before the match starts and then switch to 3-5% at the beginning of the match.


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