Alliance of American Football to Have Live Betting Component
According to Darren Rovell of ESPN, the forthcoming Alliance of American Football will introduce a gambling product that will allow users to watch games live on an app while placing bets simultaneously on the same screen. This move will allow the AAF’s gaming partner to price live betting odds by constructing a data set that correlates with the likelihood of any bet winning.
Charlie Ebersol, the co-founder of the AAF, wanted to start a tech business to go hand-in-hand with the new league, which will play its first game in about 5 months. Ebersol did have gambling in mind, though he was coy regarding what exactly the new venture would entail. The announcement this week clears up why certain investors, such as the Chernin Group, Keith Rabois and Brian Singerman were so eager to get a piece of the pie. All 3 investors have ties to gambling entities and/or tech pursuits. MGM is also an investor in the AAF.
MGM will be the league’s exclusive in-game gambling partner for the next 3 seasons, at least. MGM will be the one to host the gaming business on the aforementioned app. MGM also recently struck a deal to be the exclusive gaming partner of the NBA, but the deal with AAF marks the first time any sports league in the United States has sold in-game gambling rights to a specific sportsbook.
MGM president of interactive gaming Scott Butera said, “What’s great for us is the access, provided that it’s single entity, all the teams and venues are all aligned and there isn’t any union issues.” Butera was also formerly the commissioner of the Arena Football League.
One interesting nugget here is that the league and MGM have agreed to put wearables on players that may affect the odds that get posted on the app. For example, some of the data collected regarding a quarterback’s velocity on his throws may affect his betting odds for throwing an interception.
Ebersol said, “We’ll collect the data and then be able to have the algorithm sort out what is relevant.” Butera said that the numbers taken from the data on the field will be crunched and new betting odds will be posted almost immediately. Users will even be able to bet on data itself, such as throw speed.
As of now, the MGM app is only available to users in Nevada and New Jersey. Other states are still contemplating when and how to legalize and regulate sports betting. Back in May, the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which effectively banned every state other than Nevada from offering legal sports gambling.
Per Ebersol, the league will also have the chance to pay players more based on how often their prop bets are bet on. MGM has promised to share its betting data with the league, as well. Ebersol added, “In our system, there’s really a limitless cap on what a player can make. Money from the amount of bets placed on them is one of the ways.”
Butera believes that this innovation may one day be utilized by other sports leagues, as well. He said, “It’s why we didn’t just sponsor it, we invested in it.”
The AAF will also have a separate fantasy component available on the app which will be available to users of all ages. Ebersol said the league has plans to sell its fantasy rights to an exclusive provider.
As of Sunday, the AAF had signed 332 players to contracts and assigned them to separate teams spanning 8 cities – Memphis, Birmingham, Orlando, Salt Lake City, Atlanta, San Diego, Phoenix and San Antonio. The first AAF game is scheduled for February 9, and it will be broadcast on CBS.
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