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Given the rich DFS heritage in the United States, a massive amount of US sports bettors bet like fantasy and that’s why same-game parlay (SGP) is and will continue to be so desirable and prominent. Sports bettors are obsessed with individual player stats (props) and they combine them with core markets.

One of the keys to FanDuel’s market dominance in the US sports betting space is the power of its SGP offering. That’s all down to the superior margins applied to SGP compared to others in the market.

That behavior generates great margin for operators because bettors overestimate the correlation between player and team performance, perceiving the long odds as value.

The PASPA repeal had its sixth birthday recently and while some states are more “mature” than others, the industry in the US (including iGaming) is still very young.

There is no doubt that behind the scenes in the innovation labs at FanDuel, DraftKings and suppliers like Huddle, SimpleBet and GamePlai, the best brains in North America are looking at the next phase of the “US SPORTSBOOK”.

So, will in-play finally take off and what role will SGPs and micro bets play in the in-play evolution?

If you look at the UK as an example, in-play became huge as it was the next product that was available (before multis on the same game were available, originally known as Request-A-Bet and Build-A-Bet more recently) and we had seen huge upside on sports like tennis (which maybe doesn’t exist massively in the US yet) yielding massive revenues.

So as the market develops and becomes more mature, and bettors become more sophisticated (who will want to be treated as a stakeholder rather than just a bettor), operators will want to push more products to their customers.

Micro betting is an interesting proposition as it allows players to wager on individual moments in an event in real time. There are natural iGaming similarities with the instant fulfilment meshed with the skill of sports betting. 

While the listed benefits of wider micro betting for in-play will include:

Attracting a younger demographic

Better ROI on acquisition LTV models via increased engagement

Better more engaging product offering should result in lower CPAs

US sports present incredible opportunities for micro player props as fans of these sports and their leagues/teams are more accustomed to tracking and predicting player performance.

It’s projected that about 40% of total March Madness handle will be in-play bets. This is, for a US sport, extraordinary. The nature of basketball allows for such in-play volumes and as products and pricing models evolve, this should increase further in 2025.

The Illinois Gaming Board, the only state which releases monthly stats on how many bets bettors place, how much they wager each month and which sportsbooks they wager with, released some interesting stats on SGPs towards the end of last year. Parlays made up 71% of all bets placed with FanDuel in Illinois in 2023. In fact, FanDuel states that 90% of their monthly active users place SGPs.

Optimising SGP product and functionality can have a major impact on the bottom line for these sportsbooks. Barron’s recent analysis shows that sportsbooks’ average ‘win margin’ is estimated at 20% for parlay bets compared to 5% for standard single bets on other sports.

Live SGP is daily limited currently across the space. While upwards of 50% of some pre-game bets are on SGPs, live figures in some sports, while trending up, sit at around 10% in the NFL for example, so this will be an interesting space to watch for investment in the live SGP product which is currently sub-optimal.

Post-PASPA, when operators rushed to get live (using the European UI frameworks), Europeans had assumed that in-play would be the big thing in the US. As the SGP products have matured and in some cases been re-engineered, the next generation of SGP innovation will be on growing the in-play base.

Paddy Casey is the co-founder of The Unit with over 15 years’ experience in the iGaming industry as a product and commercial leader.

The Unit is an experienced software development company, headquartered in Ireland, which builds innovative products and solutions for the sports betting and igaming sector. Its unflinching focus on creating world-class products that are efficient and scalable sets The Unit apart in key domains of expertise around product development, MarTech and innovation for the iGaming industry.

The Unit has already delivered a wide range of products over its progressive history, including notable names such as Low6, 10Star, PlayStar Casino, TX Odds, Northstar Bets and Ohio Valley Wrestling.

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