It is, without question, the most annoying thing about online sports betting: the spinning wheel that pops up for 10 seconds when attempting to place a live, in-game wager.
For the consumer, that spinny wheel looks devious. Just what, exactly, is going on during those 10 seconds? Are traders on the other end double-checking the odds they posted? Are they front-running, waiting to see what the next play entails? Are there gremlins working in the dark? Is it just laggy technology?
Short answer? Who knows.
Enter Deck Prism, a Las Vegas-based startup that is taking the spinny wheel out to the woodshed and putting it out of its misery. No more waits. Just instantaneous acceptance of live bets.
And after a soft launch over the past few weeks, Deck Prism’s live betting action is now officially live, with Circa Sports, which launched last summer in Colorado, being the first company to use their technology.
— DeckPrism Sports (@DeckPrism) January 21, 2021
Circa, Desk Prism on the same side
“We wanted to create a product that matches with our method,” said Matt Metcalf, Circa’s sportsbook director. “We grabbed lunch, and really hit it off, and spent the last year trying to figure out how to do something.”
The “we” here is Ed Miller and Matthew Davidow, co-founders of Deck Prism and also the authors of “The Logic of Sports Betting.”
“Our goal as a business is to provide odds that are strong enough and sharp enough and robust enough that an operator can offer their live betting with instantaneous acceptance of all bets without any concern,” Miller said.
To be clear: Deck Prism is setting the live odds as they happen, and that’s the product they’re selling to existing sportsbooks.
“It works because we trust their numbers and can take big bets with their numbers,” Metcalf said. “Anybody can play our in-game product, everyone gets the same limit, and we feel Matt and Ed have built a product that sits in line in what we’re doing.”
Big bets, big customers
Circa is a bit of an outlier in the online sportsbook world. For starters, their trading desk is often first to market with the day’s — or next day’s — odds. Additionally, their limits are for everyone, newbies and sharps and everyone in between. They don’t limit players who are beating them, something that has been an ongoing issue for the more professional class of players.
And to keep a live betting operation up and running, with the right odds, is a battle Metcalf thinks Deck Prism is particularly suited for.
“We believe that our way of doing business, honoring a fair limit to all players, is a way for us to make the most money,” Metcalf said. “We don’t operate this model just to be ‘the way it should be,’ but at the end of the day, we believe we’re going to be more profitable operating this model. But it requires so much labor to book to the sharper players before the game starts, we don’t have the ability to commit those resources to an in-game product at this point.”
Deck Prism, however, does.
Doing what’s right
And while Miller and Davidow are obviously running a business, there is a little bit of Robin Hood happening as well.
And it all goes back to the spinny wheel, where bets go to die.
Please don’t ask if I kept trying to bet the Cardinals live on their last drive and got the spinning wheel again and again and again
— Joe Ostrowski (@JoeO670) November 16, 2020
“To me it’s unfair,” Miller said. “And the reason why it’s unfair — and it’s not even that they’re waiting to see what happens on the next play. They could do that, if they were evil. Let’s say they absolutely swear they’re not going to do that. The reason why it’s bad is because it lets them hit the undo button on any mistake they ever make.
“Let’s say they put a bad line up, they don’t do good math, the line is bad, and as soon as that bad line goes up all their smart bettors bet the good side. The delay gives them eight seconds to see the bets coming in from the customers they respect and … and what is the trader’s job? Their job is to move the line, and with the delay system, once the trader moves the line, all those bets get canceled retroactively. It doesn’t even have to be they’re trying to front-run you; it’s literally every time they put up a mistake, they have an undo button. Fundamentally, it’s not a fair way to approach the product.”
Metcalf agrees, and doesn’t want his sportsbook having the perception of any spinny wheel tomfoolery.
“If you’re a player and you put an in-game bet in, there’s an opportunity — and again, I’m not accusing anyone of doing this — but there is an opportunity as a player to feel like, ‘Hey they’re seeing what happens next and either approving or declining my bet based on what happens.’ We want to take that thought out of the player’s head, so they know that couldn’t happen.”
Right now, Deck Prism is offering live odds for five sports — NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA football, and basketball. NHL is probably next on its menu.
And not only is Deck Prism killing the spinny wheel, its odds are often at odds with the more well-known sportsbooks on live action.
“The live odds are often not very good, for various reasons, at other sportsbooks,” Miller said. “We often disagree with them, and when we disagree, they tend to be wrong.”