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Volume 23 No. 1
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NBA deal with DraftKings shows shift in data value

DraftKings is now the sixth sports betting operator to strike a deal with the league.
Photo: Getty Images
DraftKings is now the sixth sports betting operator to strike a deal with the league.
Photo: Getty Images
DraftKings is now the sixth sports betting operator to strike a deal with the league.
Photo: Getty Images

The NBA has added DraftKings as an authorized sports betting operator, giving the company access to real-time official data and use of league and team marks. Notably, the deal also rounds out a stable of NBA-blessed sportsbooks that now includes six operators who accounted for about 90% of the $29.4 million in sports betting revenue generated last month in New Jersey.

 

DraftKings, which has about one-third of the New Jersey online market, joins Bet 365, BetMGM, FanDuel, Fox Bet and William Hill as NBA-authorized operators.

“There has been some pushback and it has taken a little bit of time to educate and to get on the same page and to find the right deal structures in a number of cases,” said Scott Kaufman-Ross, senior vice president and head of fantasy and gaming for the NBA. “But we’ve now gotten … daily fantasy companies, U.S. casinos, international companies and companies affiliated with media entities, all as part of the program. It’s an acknowledgement from the industry that they see value in the partnership with the leagues and in being an authorized operator.”

The multiyear deal with DraftKings underscores a shift in the perceived importance of official league data, delivered in near real time, in a U.S. market that has adopted in-play wagering more rapidly than many expected.

Real-time data feeds allow sportsbooks to more effectively adjust odds and point spreads on games as they unfold. For example, if an NBA team scores five unanswered points in a matter of seconds, it may make it far more likely that it will win the quarter or be the first team to reach 20 points, both fairly common in-play wagers.

Feeding those events into an algorithm allows a sportsbook to adjust its odds to reflect a quick swing. Sportsbooks offering in-play wagering without access to league official data feeds must either delay their acceptance of bets or take bets at odds that expose them to greater risk.

Nearly 45% of DraftKings’ NBA handle comes from in-play wagering, the company said, with more than 70% of NBA bettors having placed an in-play bet. The latter number is in line with the share of in-play betting on the NBA in more mature markets in Europe, Kaufman-Ross said.

“[Sportsbooks] want access to the real-time data feed,” Kaufman-Ross said. “They feel it’s important to create a best-in-class product, particularly for basketball, given how popular in-play betting for basketball is. The game is so fast-paced and there are so many changes in score; so many changes to the odds in real time. So our official data feed is particularly essential to the operators. I think there is an acknowledgement of that now.”