For bettors with a short attention span who wish to avoid the monotony of a grinding, deliberate 16-play drive, NFL RedZone has been a godsend.
When eight games take place simultaneously on a Sunday, a bettor can flip to the NFL’s RedZone channel to watch a potential score from inside the 20-yard line. As the popularity of microbetting continues on an upward trajectory, Caesars Sportsbook is nearing the rollout of a new feature patterned after the RedZone.
Caesars’ “Fire Bets” feature will leverage micro market products from Simplebet to offer suitable bets to users at key moments in each game. The Fire Bets tab will also have the capability to reorder the placement of certain betting markets in response to a critical juncture of a contest. For now, the product is still in advanced testing phase.
The NFL and Genius Sports this week officially launched BetVision, a streaming platform that allows users to bet and watch a game from a single screen. Caesars joined Fanatics and BetRivers as the three operators that will offer the product upon initial launch. Beyond streaming, Caesars is expanding its in-game capabilities with video highlight packages, push notifications, and other forms of personalization, all in an effort to differentiate the experience for its customers.
“I would say the live game experience is one that we’re investing a lot of effort around,” said Ken Fuchs, who serves as COO and head of sports for Caesars Digital. “Our objective is to have the best live betting experience for customers in the industry.”
Launched in 2020, Simplebet is a business-to-business (B2B) product development company that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to power real-time betting markets through its proprietary micro-market pricing engine. Simplebet enables wagers such as on the result of the next drive in football, if a drive will land in the fairway in golf, or the outcome of each at-bat in baseball. Caesars began testing the Fire Bets product with baseball in the spring.
In baseball, Simplebet’s algorithmic models contain results from at least 4.8 million pitches and 800,000 at-bats since 2010. While trained to historical data sets going back 10 to 15 years, the models have the capability to retrain themselves moving forward. If quarterbacks are outperforming the historical average against cover-2 zones, the models can recalibrate over a period of several weeks. On a predictive basis, major rule changes such as the addition of a pitch clock in MLB caused Simplebet to retrain aspects of the model, said Ryan Keur, Simplebet’s vice president of revenue & trading, in an interview with Sports Handle this spring.
Sign Up For The Sports Handle Newsletter!
At 7:20 p.m. ET Wednesday, Caesars offered live betting on seven MLB contest through Fire Bets. In Boston, Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena strode to the plate with one out in the top of the fifth. The Rays led 3-0 following a double by Manuel Margot an inning earlier. Arozarena worked the count to 2-0 following a 96 mph sinker from Brayan Bello.
At the same time, bettors could wager on the result of Bryce Harper’s at-bat in the bottom of the third at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Harper, a two-time National League MVP, struck out swinging. In Detroit, where the Tigers faced the Royals, Miguel Cabrera, another former MVP, scored for one of the last times in his storied career. Cabrera, who is completing his MLB farewell tour this week, slammed his 511th career home run in the second to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Had Cabrera homered again in the fourth, a Caesars bettor would have won on him at odds of +2300. Instead, Cabrera merely singled to left, resulting in a payout of +380 for that hit. Two batters later, Cabrera scored on a homer by Tyler Nevin.
Caesars also offers a market on the total speed in miles per hour of the next pitch, such as when Nevin blasted a 94 mph, four-seam fastball off Angel Zerpa for a 4-0 lead. The pitch speed wagers are available in certain states where regulators allow them.
Moments earlier, Blue Jays pitcher Jose Berrios struck out Aaron Judge on a 94 mph sinker. Judge got his revenge in the fourth when he crushed another Berrios sinker into the opposite field for a 2-0 lead. Upon the formal launch of Fire Bets, bettors will be able to use Judge in a live same-game parlay, combining him with other MLB props. His at-bat could also be used as one leg in a multi-sport parlay wager. The options, according to Fuchs, are virtually endless.
It’s hard to find an opposite-field home run that finds the seats as fast as this one.
Hit 112.3 MPH. Out in 30 of 30 parks.
Aaron Judge is the man. Truly one of the great Yankees. pic.twitter.com/ELSmtmnVxW
— Joe Randazzo (@Yankeelibrarian) September 28, 2023
Capturing momentum swings
Despite falling behind the Pirates 5-0 Wednesday night, the Phillies rallied with four runs in the fourth, then took the lead on a solo homer by Harper in the seventh. The idea that gave rise to Fire Bets, Fuchs explains, lies within the situational nature of sports. There are moments in a game that he said build momentum for viewers, with RedZone as the archetype on the broadcast side.
For Caesars, the company wants to alert bettors of those momentum swings that offer the highest potential for price fluctuations. Based on recent app testing across the industry, customer demand for instant betting options is trending up. Caesars entered the micro betting market with a multi-year partnership with Simplebet last December.
As with RedZone, the order of the games can be reshuffled, with more exciting ones placed at the “front of the carousel.” Prior to Harper’s home run, the Phillies-Pirates game occupied the top of the queue, accompanied by a header that read “Slug Fest.” By 9:25 p.m., the Phillies closed out a 7-6 win on a scoreless ninth pitched by Gregory Soto.
The game departed from the queue, replaced by nail-biters featuring the Cubs and Marlins, two teams battling for the last wild card spot in the National League. The Cubs took a 4-3 lead in the ninth on a single from Yan Gomes, only to lose in 10 innings to the Braves.
The Marlins scored two in the ninth to defeat the Mets, 4-2. With four games left in the season, Chicago and Miami are tied for the NL’s last playoff spot.
Same Inning & Same Drive parlays are here!
This first of a kind product combines two of the most prominent trends in the US betting space: Same-Game Parlays 🤝 Micro-betting
— Simplebet (@SimpleBet) July 21, 2023
‘A robust, fun experience’
When it comes to pricing, Simplebet uses custom market automation and machine learning models to predict outcomes that incorporate historical and live data from a multitude of sources, ranging from previous match outcomes to current weather patterns. The “Fog Bowl,” in the 1988 NFC Divisional Playoffs between the Bears and Eagles, serves as a case in point.
Trailing 17-6 with about two minutes left in the second quarter, the Eagles started a drive from their own 20 when a dense fog rolled over Soldier Field. If in-game betting had existed then, there’s a strong likelihood that Simplebet’s models would have responded to a rare phenomenon that Mike Ditka described as “the strangest thing” he had ever seen. Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham still managed to hit Keith Jackson in a blanket of fog for a 65-yard completion, leading to a field goal on the drive.
“You couldn’t see the middle of the field from the sideline,” scientist Bill Nye explained in an NFL Films account of the game.
Simplebet also uses low-latency data transmitted from a stadium to ensure that prices are up to date with real-time events. As with derivatives on the stock market when long options decrease in value near expiration, the odds of an in-drive prop will become worse as a team nears the red zone. Simplebet, which began making same-drive parlays possible at the start of the NFL season, emphasized that the prices accurately reflect the exact moment of the game in real time.
Simplebet CEO Chris Bevilacqua describes Fire Bets as a “prime example” of how a sports betting operator can build on Simplebet’s technology to deliver a new user experience for in-play betting.
“Caesars Fire Bets powered by Simplebet’s technology is another excellent use case for an innovative in-play product developed in tandem with our sportsbook operator partners,” Bevilacqua wrote in an email to Sports Handle.
“We look forward to showcasing the benefits of our technology and improving the user experience throughout the NFL season.”
It appears that the pricing is partially done by Simplebet, in combination with in-house pricing from Caesars, according to The EKG Line, a weekly newsletter from gaming firm Eilers & Krejcik. The EKG Line lauded Caesars for the “high-leverage” concept, citing the popularity of RedZone among football viewers. The rollout of the product is expected to occur in the coming weeks, an industry source told Sports Handle.
“When you combine Fire Bets with live streaming of NFL games, push highlights, and a great design that pulls this together in one page, it becomes a really robust, fun experience, not just before the game, but while the game is going on,” Fuchs said.