Online sports bettors really don’t want all that much from the experience, just apps that: work at the same speed as or maybe a little faster than game clocks; remember users’ preferences, like Amazon, and previous action and are easy to read; and integrate betting options with outside information from podcasts or other media.
Poker players want a comp system that rewards online play.
Those suggestions came Tuesday at a Global Gaming Expo panel discussion titled “The Players Speak.”
“The latency for these gameplay apps is awful,” said panelist Matt Perrault, director of new media for American Affiliate and the sports-gambling voice of SB Nation Radio. Latency is the time it takes for data to travel between its source and destination and it can vary based on user and location. “I’m betting into a market that’s two minutes old. That’s eons of time.”
Panelist Wayne Kimmel, managing partner and founder of venture-capital firm SeventySix Capital, said sports betting apps should be more personalized. Currently, every user sees the same screen when launching an app such as DraftKings or FanDuel, he said. He suggested that sports bettors get individualized options patterned after Amazon’s purchase suggestions based on past orders or search history.
Panelist Liz Huey, a member of the Women’s Poker Association board and lead instructor for Power Poker, said she’s typically credited with $1 an hour in comps for in-person poker play, but nothing for online, even though she plays multiple tables at a time online. “If we really want to keep those players coming back, we’ll have to offer them a little bit more,” she said.
Stormy N. Buonantony, host of “VSiN Final Countdown” on VSiN, The Sports Betting Network, moderated the discussion. VSiN provides sports news, analysis, and proprietary data to sports bettors nationwide.
Kimmel told CDC Gaming Reports that the 5G initiatives by providers such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are making faster data transfer times available in many areas. “In-stadium, that’s where we’re going to have to make sure they really pump up their speed.”
He said fast-enough network speeds are “really, really close,” citing work by major tech companies, including Google, Facebook, and Amazon, in addition to the major telecommunication providers.
“They’re leaning in heavy, because they see really big opportunities to help have more fan engagement. This is all about more money being spent on sports and sports betting in general,” he said. “They recognize that the more data they can stream, the more money they make. That’s why they spent so much money in sports. And now there’s even more reason, because you’re interacting even as you stream more video.”
Perrault said the current lag time between live play and the online betting apps is holding back the possibility of in-game betting. “If you’re betting while the game is on your screen, you’re at a massive disadvantage,” he said. “You’re literally betting blind.”
Buonantony said bettors in the United States, especially those new to sports wagering, need to be educated about illicit offshore sportsbooks that mimic legitimate U.S. operators. Perrault said double-checking the website address can offer clues, because overseas sites typically end with a two-letter code indicating the country, such as dot-AG for Antigua and Barbuda and dot-AU for Australia.
Dave Sharapan, a former Las Vegas oddsmaker who is Perrault’s partner on the podcast “The Bostonian vs. The Book,” noted that the historical sportsbook margin is 5 percent to 6 percent and asked how players and operators could discuss concerns face to face. “I hear what you want, but I can tell why we can’t.”
Huey said many players would respond to a townhall-style session in which operators invited players to express their concerns. “We don’t have a problem with telling you what we want. We have a problem with no one listening to what we ask for.”
Kimmel said this is a “unique time,” when many people are listening to player concerns. Sports leagues, which have partnered with several operators, have “incredible power” in the discussion of possible changes in operator-bettor relationships, he said.