In-play suspension times analyzed
This issue of The Data Month looks at analysis from USAbility on in-play suspension times for the five major sportsbooks during this year’s Super Bowl +More
In this special edition of The Data Month, Earnings+More takes a look at the data compiled by USAbility regarding the vital issue of suspension times for the major sportsbooks during Super Bowl LVII.
Inconsistency was a major theme with suspension time patterns varying hugely by operator.
Spread, Total and Moneyline availability varied across the sportsbooks from as little as 75.4% to as high as 99.2% of game time excluding half-time.
FanDuel had the most suspensions, DraftKings the least.
DraftKings had 99% availability throughout the game.
Analysis from this year’s Super Bowl shows how variable the occurrence and duration of suspensions was across the leading US-facing books.
Suspension bridges: In order to better understand the nature of the in-play offerings from five of the major sportsbooks – FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars and those books using Kambi (particularly Unibet due to issues with the Barstool page) – the team at USAbility analyzed their offering minute-by-minute during the last Super Bowl.
The analysis shows the inconsistency across all five when it comes to suspension times and shows that the different operators employed a variety of strategies.
DraftKings applied a high-risk/high-availability approach with minimal suspensions. It appeared to review plays and call decisions prior to the on-field referees and adjust its odds accordingly.
FanDuel and Kambi (Unibet) each took a cautious approach with many suspensions, even during ‘low-risk’ plays.
Caesars and BetMGM each had a more inconsistent approach with occasional unexplained suspension periods. These suspensions may have been caused by technical issues, liability safety limits or manual trader overrides.
MGM and Kambi/Barstool also pursued a cautious strategy, with fewer but longer suspensions than FanDuel.
FanDuel had the most suspensions but it had the lowest suspension time average. Caesars had very few (second lowest) suspensions but with the longest average suspension times for Spread and Totals.
FanDuel, BetMGM and Kambi total suspension times were significantly longer than Caesars and DraftKings, with key markets suspended for between 30 and 45 minutes in total.
DraftKings by comparison only suspended the Spread and Totals for 1 min 58 seconds and the Moneyline for 1 min 26 seconds.
It managed to keep the main three markets available for close to 99% of the time in-play.
Caesars also managed this for the Moneyline.
Kambi (Barstool and Unibet) had the lowest availability of Totals at 75% and the longest duration of suspension of nearly 45 minutes.
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FanDuel’s transition to in-play took over 5.5 minutes pre-game, preventing wagering at a critical time. USAbility says it has been informed these markets were available and wagers were placed during this period. However, the analysts said they don’t know how many people were affected by the non-rendering of the key markets that were experienced, if any.
FanDuel had more suspensions than any other sportsbook (104 instances).
Its average suspensions time, however, was very low compared to other operators (in excess of 17 seconds).
The operator appeared to implement suspensions in five-second increments.
FanDuel seemed to adopt precautionary third and fourth down suspensions as the snap took place. It had some post-snap suspensions on first and second down that appeared to be reactive.
DraftKings appeared to apply an aggressive in-play strategy. It did not suspend any of the three main markets from transitioning to in-play up until late in the 4th Quarter, apart from an inexplicable 21-second suspension in the 3rd quarter.
It only suspended key markets for just under 2 minutes in total for the whole game, with 99% availability.
It transitioned to in-play about 10 seconds after kick-off when the ML was suspended, with Spread and Total being suspended 15 seconds later. In-play did not appear until about 25 seconds after the first snap of the game.
Caesars in-play strategy appeared inconsistent compared to FanDuel and Barstool (Unibet/Kambi) with relatively few suspensions (26 for Spread down to 8 for ML), however, suspension durations were above average (up to 42 seconds).
As opposed to FanDuel, MGM and Barstool (Kambi), Caesars appeared to suspend the Spread and Total more frequently while leaving the Moneyline unsuspended (98.9% – the same as DraftKings).
It had several inexplicable and relatively long suspension periods for the Spread and Total (not simultaneously). These were possibly linked to technical issues or liability limits being breached in the second half
Alongside Barstool (Kambi), it was the only sportsbook with a seamless transition to in-play.
No suspensions of key markets were noted.
BetMGM took nearly 9 minutes to transition into in-play, with the three key markets unavailable for wagering including pre-game markets being unavailable 1.5 minutes before kick-off. The result would be significant loss of pre-game handle, suggested USAbility.
BetMGM recorded the lowest total availability of all sportsbooks Spread (77%) and ML (83%).
It took the longest to unsuspend/update prices following big plays/complex. combinations of on-field events (e.g. Eagles TD that was reversed in 1st quarter).
There were also a number of long inexplicable suspensions throughout the game.
Barstool, Unibet and Kambi appeared to adopt a similar low-risk in-play strategy to that of FanDuel, with frequent suspensions for third down and plays when a flag was thrown. They each appeared to suspend markets earlier than the competition, typically by 5-6 seconds.
The analysts said this could be due to the in-play model/trader reacting to the live feed earlier or because of the adoption of a more precautionary approach to each snap rather than being reactionary.
Barstool, Unibet and Kambi had the lowest availability of Totals (75%) among the five sportsbooks analyzed and the longest duration of suspension, totalling nearly 45 minutes.
New Jersey baseline: USAbility used New Jersey sportsbooks and the main three markets as a baseline. The company has assumed all sportsbooks in the comparison offered the same in-play product in all other states.
Latency: All game incidents were recorded against UK broadcaster Sky Sports, with an estimated 5-8 second lag against real time in Arizona.
The 5-8 second lag time corresponds with real-time data from official sources, so USAbility can assume with a high degree of certainty that this is within the margin of error.
For the purpose of mapping events to in-play suspensions and odds, this lag is deemed acceptable.
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Massachusetts: Having established leadership by handle in the debut month of March, DraftKings cemented its position at the head of the market by also grabbing the pole position by GGR in April.
The April data shows DraftKings out on its own in its home state.
As was noted in the last Data Month issue, it was always likely DraftKings would attempt to ensure top-dog status in its home state via substantial promotional spend.
The levels of DraftKings’ promo spend have clearly continued into the first full month of operations.
🫖 Goin’ to a party: DraftKings rules the roost in Massachusetts
May 24: Super Group, Rivalry
Jun 8: Gaming in Holland
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