California is about to have something somewhat close to a traditional sportsbook.
As the state punts traditional sports betting indefinitely into the future as a wave of legalization sweeps the country, the NBA’s Sacramento Kings franchise isn’t interested in just sitting on its hands.
On Friday, the Kings announced a partnership with the San Francisco-based Swish Analytics to “demo” what is dubbed a “predictive gaming experience” in a new lounge. The game is free to play and awards non-cash prizes. It will help both the Kings and Swish Analytics amass a database of future real-money sports bettors.
The gaming will begin March 17 in the “Sacramento Kings Skyloft Predictive Gaming Lounge” at the Golden 1 Center. The Kings are scheduled to host the Chicago Bulls that evening. The lounge is reserved for suite, loft, and balcony box ticket holders attending the game, according to a presser.
“Basketball fans across the country are clamoring for gaming options, and we’re thrilled to be the first NBA team to bring this unique experience to Sacramento,” said Vivek Ranadivé, owner and chairman of the Kings. “Predictive gaming is incredibly disruptive and will only continue to gain popularity in the NBA and beyond. Working with industry leaders like Swish Analytics allows us to test and perfect this technology to give fans the best experience in future seasons.”
The trial run will end on March 23. The offering presumably will continue if it’s a success.
What is predictive gaming?
The demo will allow fans to compete for autographed Kings gear and game tickets. This type of gaming doesn’t involve anyone risking anything of value, so it’s not gambling.
The free-play offering will feature iPads with customized Kings software from Swiss Analytics. The iPads can’t be taken from the lounge and used elsewhere in the arena, according to the presser.
The software involved has been dubbed “BetRush.”
“BetRush is a live bet simulation engine, providing players with a real-time streaming feed of betting-focused analysis, content, statistics, odds, and visualizations to help viewers engage with live games and to stimulate betting activity. All content is derived from Swish Analytics’ proprietary in-house sports analytics and odds making platform,” said the presser.
How does predictive gaming work?
Every game, fans start with free credits they can use to make their predictions, “with each correct choice offering a credit-reward based on the true probabilities and odds of each outcome.”
The number of credits at the end of game determines how many raffle tickets fans win. During the March demo, the lounge will offer predictions on things such as in-game team point totals and individual player stats, as well as “custom Kings-specific predictions.”
The predictive gaming lounge actually accompanies a similar Kings’ mobile app gaming experience called “Call the Shot,” which debuted in 2016 but was recently upgraded with new features. Call the Shot is available for fans in the arena and at home. MGM Resorts is involved with the Kings on that offering. MGM has a league-level sports betting deal with the NBA.
Will other NBA franchises join in?
The majority of U.S. states have at least begun to consider sports betting, but there are some that are a long way off from sorting through the public-policy details and passing legislation.
In addition to California, Texas and Florida are two massive potential markets for sports betting that aren’t anywhere close to authorizing sportsbooks (the Lone Star State especially). NBA teams in those states might be interested in joining the Kings in predictive gaming.
This type of work-around could eventually also be found in states that aren’t allowing online/mobile bets, at least not right away. The state of New York, home to another massive potential market, is planning sportsbooks at the upstate casinos, but no mobile out of the gate.
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