America’s got talent

1 April 2019

Jason Paradise, head of trading at Digital Sports Tech, highlights why local expertise within the US sports betting market is the key to gaining a competitive advantage in the world’s most exciting emerging territory.

The legalised US sports betting market is not even a year old, but already operators and sportsbook providers are discovering that while the potential of this emerging territory is huge, the challenges they face are also mounting.

From a trading perspective, the biggest hurdle that many are struggling to overcome is the availability of talented and experienced individuals that truly understand both betting and US sports.

Expanding business operations and a product offering to cater for a growing customer base will be a big focus over the next few years within the US sports betting sector. However, the reality right now is that the talent pool is narrow with limited choice available.

There are alternative options to consider when looking to expanding your trading department. For example, securing talent from those who work within sports and media companies can be beneficial, as the knowledge and skillset they have can be transferrable to our industry.

It’s an approach that we adopted when establishing our US trading team and continue to this day as we expand our operations. The result means we have individuals on board who are passionate about sports and can help to grow the business.

As operators look to make the next steps in their offering, superior knowledge of the market will become a key differentiator.

The human touch
Since the demise of PASPA, a number of sportsbook providers with a strong European heritage have naturally made the move across the Atlantic to offer their services.

However, in many cases the majority of their trading teams have remained at their existing offices, which puts them at a disadvantage.

Traders need to have a high degree of knowledge on the sport they’re specialising in. Much of that comes from fully immersing themselves within a sport, by constantly keeping up-to-date with the latest news and gossip.

Without having any presence on the ground in the region they’re operating in, they’ll never be able to compete with those based locally who have constant access to regional sports news.

For instance, producing prices on niche markets such as in-play player props on NBA matches not only requires the outputs from advanced predictive models, but also human interaction that can provide essential inputs for pricing as well as oversee operations and respond quickly to palpable errors.

Player props represent up to 85% of total NBA markets offered per game with some sportsbooks. For such markets to exist, they need to be powered by both technology and human interaction.

The majority of sportsbook operators are experiencing significant year-on-year growth with their NBA betting volumes, such is the growing popularity of the sport globally.

But while players such as LeBron James and Stephen Curry are widely known, pricing up the expected performance of the lesser known players provides a real challenge.

As US operators look to enhance their product offering with content that appeals to their customer base, traders with expert knowledge of local sports and a strong heritage within the States will have the competitive edge.

Jason Paradise is the head of trading for Digital Sports Tech, which provides player prop betting solutions to the global sports betting industry. He previously worked for ESPN and StarStreet