Ice hockey

New sports tech will improve live betting options for fans

The advanced technology of the NHL’s Player and Puck Tracking system could provide a wealth of information to aid in live betting on games.

At some point during the Stanley Cup playoffs, the NHL intends to take its in-game broadcast experience boldly where no pro sports league has gone before.

The league is putting sensors in the shoulder pads of player equipment, as well as inside pucks. The objective is to track various quantifiable data during the game, such as the speed of players on their skates and how hard their shots travel.

This NHL Puck and Player Tracking technology includes 14-16 antennae installed in the arena rafters. There are also four cameras situated around the rink to help support the tracking functionality.

This technology was tested during the 2019 NHL All-Star Game at San Jose’s SAP Center and will ultimately be utilized in all 31 NHL arenas. The hope is that it will be implemented in time for the start of the 2020-21 season.

“The Puck and Player Tracking system can track pucks at a rate of 2,000 times per second in real-time with inch-level accuracy,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said at the 2019 NHL All-Star Innovation Spotlight presented by SAP. “We’ll instantaneously detect passes, shots, and positioning precisely. It will be equally accurate in tracking players; their movement, speed, time on ice — you name it.

“Being on the forefront of innovation is good for our game, and most especially our fans.”

A betting bonanza

Such innovation is also good for bettors. As anyone who’s ventured into the world of online betting could testify to, if there’s one aspect people who bet on sports crave, it’s information.

The more a bettor knows, the more a bettor feels in the know. Knowledge is king in the world of sports wagering.

The fastest-growing form of sports wagering in all games today is what’s known as live or in-play betting. Just as the name would suggest, it’s about getting a play down on the next play in a game. In a fast-paced sport such as hockey, being able to access such data as can be supplied by the NHL’s Puck and Player Tracking technology is going to prove a boon to bettors looking to get action on the game’s next action.

“This is a culture now that’s so used to instant gratification and being entertained and mobile access,” Sara Slane, sports betting consultant for the NHL, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We’ll start to see a lot more engagement and product development around in-play prop betting.

“This is an amazing fan engagement tool for them to get fans back to watching games that take longer than two hours.”

Sportsbooks investing in the future

It’s not merely bettors who are intrigued by the kind of data this new technology could be providing as they look for the next wager. Sportsbooks are also seeing the merit in knowing what’s going on as quickly as possible.

Already, the NHL has signed deals with three different sports betting companies to serve as official sports betting partners of the league. BetMGM and William Hill are both on board with the league in a partnership of this capacity. Meanwhile, FanDuel has become the official daily fantasy sports partner of the NHL.

These agreements contain information sharing options with the NHL, which will give each of these gambling sites access to all of the NHL’s data. All of these organizations see the value that the league’s new technology can offer to them as they seek to post competitive odds in live betting markets as rapidly as possible.

It’s much better for the sportsbooks to have access to first-hand data from the league, as opposed to signing agreements with third-party data suppliers. By cutting out the middleman, they get their data as fast as possible and can post odds quicker.

That’s good news for all parties involved in the betting transaction. A live betting opportunity can literally vanish in the blink of an eye.

“The sooner you have the data, the more markets you can offer, and the better you can price your markets.” gambling analyst Chris Grove of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming told the Review-Journal.