The National Association for Stock Car Racing (NASCAR) launched in-race betting Sunday, at the first race of the NASCAR Cup playoffs in Las Vegas. Bets were offered on in Las Vegas as well as casinos in three other states.
Offered in partnership with NASCAR’s betting provider Genius Sports, players will be able to place wagers after the starting flag on stage winners and the final race winner in Las Vegas, or at the Resorts World Catskills Casino in New York, the Q Casino in Iowa, and the Pearl River Casino in Mississippi.
NASCAR’s managing director of gaming Scott Warfield said he felt that the launch at a limited number of sportsbooks to start with will give NASCAR the information it needs to perfect its in-race model in time for its signature event, the Daytona 500, in February 2020.
“Using this playoff stretch until mid-November with just a few sportsbooks located all around the country is a great opportunity for us to build more information as we launch more fully in 2020 for the Daytona 500,” Warfield said.
“We’ll take a lot of the feedback, research and data and we’ll continue to fine tune the product. That’s why having a partner like Genius Sports is key because we can adapt and evolve as demand changed.”
Warfield added that in-race betting was something that NASCAR have been monitoring as an opportunity for some time, noting that while it was common in the United States, in-play wagers typically made up the majority of bets in Europe.
“I think the idea of in-play is something that we’ve been bullish on since PASPA was struck down,” Warfield said. “I think that in our sport, the creativity and innovation has been stale over the years. It’s basically been race winner and series champion, which are fairly static and it’s hard to generate a lot of engagement around that, so when PASPA was struck down, even before that actually, we started researching more evolved betting markets like it Europe and we found that 70-80% of bets are placed after the opening whistle or opening flag.”
Warfield noted that in-race betting can potentially create integrity issues as players could potentially place bets based on new information that has not yet impacted the odds. However, with NASCAR having signed an integrity partnership with SportRadar, which was extended in June, Warfield said he believed NASCAR had covered every base in terms of protecting integrity.
“There were a few things we had to make sure we got right,” he said. “The first thing was of course integrity, we had to make sure we were really honed in on that so the first thing we did was sign SportsRadar as our integrity partner about a year ago.
“They came in and did a great job for us with fraud detection monitoring education with teams and tracks and building out comfort with different bet types. That was the first imperative, building the best integrity model in all of motorsports. We believe we’ve done that but you can never be complacent on the integrity side, so that might be something we’ll always be challenged with.”
NASCAR plans to expand the roll-out of in-face betting for 2020, introducing a greater number of offers including fastest laps and leader of the most laps. Warfield said that while there were a great many opportunities for new in-race markets, he felt a step-by-step rollout was the best way to let players become more accustomed to the offers.
“We think our sport lends itself really nicely to that in-race or in-play model,” he said. “We’ve been taking data off these race cars for years for a variety of reasons but nothing in the sports betting sphere. So we started to think about what we could do and there’s stage winners, number of leaders, number of lead changes, next fastest lap, head-to-head driver matchups, there’s a ton of new bet types and with some creativity we can really drive engagement.
“I think the opportunities are endless but we’ve taken a methodical approach knowing that it’s something that even our fans are not necessarily accustomed to yet so we’re slowly introducing new bet types and growing the amount of bet types as we get ready for the 2020 season and the Daytona 500.
“If we do this right, we know it’s going to be a big driver of engagement,” Warfield said. “Our fans can’t get enough of the core product, but we have to build the right product with Genius, promote it and market it.
“This is something that we feel isn’t going to change drastically in 12 months, this is going to be a three, five, seven year build for us.We know that if we build the right bet types and promote them in the right way, we can drive the handle and give the fans something to keep their interest.”