ICE North America: MLB exec talks in-play wagering and Chris Sale’s strikeouts Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports · May 16, 2019 at 2:04 pm BOSTON – Nothing says in-play sports betting like baseball. Speaking at this week’s ICE North America conference, Kenny Gersh, executive vice president of gaming and new business ventures for Major League Baseball, laid out a scenario for fans at Fenway Park – or watching at home or in a bar – the night before, as Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale was in the process of striking out 17 Colorado Rockies in seven innings. “Sale was off to a slow start this season, but he was on fire last night,” Gersh said during a panel discussion Wednesday on in-play wagering. “In the first two innings of the game, he had six strikeouts. Now the story is, how many is he going to get?” Gersh said that, with in-play, fans could bet on, for example, the number of strikeouts in a given inning. David Purdum, Kenny Gersh, and Jamie Shea He acknowledged the concerns of people who might resist the introduction of something as non-traditional as in-play wagering but called it “an opportunity to do something new and interesting” to engage fans and generate revenue for the league. MLB, for the first time, is making its pitch and at-bat tracking data available for in-play wagering. Gersh said he’s excited about the possibilities, comparing in-play to daily fantasy sports, which was barely known less than a decade ago and now has a billion-dollar company in DraftKings. “We have a similar opportunity with in-play,” Gersh said. In baseball, each pitch and each at-bat is an event. The audience expressed some skepticism of how some of the fast-action bets can work given a several-second delay in satellites and other television feeds for people watching at home or in a bar. He dismissed audience skepticism about how well such fast-action bets would work given the inherent delay in television feeds, saying that’s something the league continues to work on. He also said there will be opportunities for fans to wager inside stadiums. “We’re trying to get fans engaged with baseball, not necessarily looking to create a culture of people betting all the time,” Gersh said. Jamie Shea, head of digital sportsbook operations with DraftKings, said in-gaming wagering has been very successful for the company. Shea said 90 percent of DraftKings users who bet the NBA have made a live bet, and 70 percent have in tennis. It’s still not close to Europe, where in-play wagering dominates the landscape, but she said American bettors will continue to do more live betting. ESPN gambling writer David Purdum, who moderated the panel, said he hears a lot about people who are excited about pushing in-play wagering to the forefront. He wondered who those people are. “None of the people I know do it,” he said. “We see that changing very quickly,” Shea said. The narrative that continues to exist is that Americans have been slower to adopt in-play wagering than their European counterparts, and the industry admits as much. Shea again cited education – letting bettors know what their in-play wagering options are. Las Vegas sportsbooks might offer 10 wagering options for a particular sporting event, compared to 200 in New Jersey, and those New Jersey in-play wagering options might pay off in seconds. “You can’t resist that instant gratification,” Shea said.