Microbetting is helping the MLB engage fans in new ways

Microbetting — wagers on minor portions like a specific pitch being a ball or strike — is surging in baseball.

“When you talk about the perfect sport for in-play and microbetting, baseball is it,” Chris Bevilacqua, the CEO of Simplebet, told Yahoo Finance.

Bevilacqua’s company provides microbetting markets for sportsbooks such as DraftKings (DKNG) and has seen its handle, the total amount bet on the market, triple over the last year. The software helped facilitate $262 million in betting handling across the entire 2022 Major League Baseball season, accounting for roughly 25% of the live bets placed on its partner platforms.

The increased gambling stats match what the MLB has seen in other parts of its business season. Viewership rose 5% on regional sports networks, according to Playfly Sports, which serves as the national sales arm for regional sports networks representing all 29 American teams.

Criag Sloan, the COO at Playfly Sports, a sports marketing & media company, described microbetting as the “holy grail” to create interactive engagement with fans.

“The holy grail has been trying to figure out what is truly going to create engagement at a level where it’s interactive,” Sloan told Yahoo Finance. “Microbetting and in-play betting is really where we believe is at the next level.”

David Robertson of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches in the 10th inning against the Houston Astros in Game One of the 2022 World Series. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Growing the ‘menu’

As mobile sports betting grows, more football bettors are transitioning to baseball betting than ever before, according to Johnny Avello, the DraftKings director of sportsbook operations. Part of that increase comes from the extensive “menu” sportsbooks can provide with technology like Simplebet.

“The stuff we put up every week is Super Bowl props, which would happen once a year in Vegas, where we put that kind of stuff up every single weekend on every single game,” Avello, who has been working in sports gambling for more than 35 years, told Yahoo Finance.

Baseball is the microbetting leader on DraftKing, Avello said, with basketball close behind. He attributed this to the speed of baseball and the amount of betting inventory. With around 2,430 games per year, Bevilacqua estimated there are about 400,000 bats and 750,000 pitches a year.

“You’re talking about a couple million markets,” Bevilacqua said. “There’s something for everybody in there, and you can do it in a timeframe where the user experience is still really good.”

Noah Garden, the MLB Chief Revenue Officer, noted that further gambling products and alternative streams should be expected in the future.

“We have more to come,” Garden said, adding that gambling has “been great. It’s doing exactly what we thought. But at the same time we still need to innovate in the way people gamble, we still need to provide more content to that section of our fans and more data.”

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