NASCAR wants to drive more betting on its races – not just who wins them
NASCAR aims to emphasize game-related betting this season as the organization seeks to increase overall sports betting.
NASCAR had a fun problem on its hands last season: Two of its drivers were unhappy with each other and their frustrations were spilling onto the track.
The feud that blossomed between Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick has indeed been talked about for weeks. The timing of the dispute even meant that more intrigue was injected into the NASCAR playoffs, sparking fan and media interest at a crucial time.
In theory, therefore, the interest of recreational sports bettors should also have been piqued. An event involving two guys who don’t like each other is the basis of so much retail and online sports betting that it should have been an easy win for NASCAR, which saw betting as a way to attract new fans. towards sports.
And yet, the traditional method of NASCAR betting – picking the winner of a race from over 30 drivers – does not intuitively lend itself to a two-way feud. Neither Elliott nor Harvick won a race after their negative feelings surfaced at Bristol last September, although Elliott progressed further into the playoffs, wishing Harvick “a great off-season“as he did.
That’s something NASCAR is looking to address this upcoming season by pushing “featured” games. While sportsbooks already offer driver-vs-driver betting, NASCAR’s plan would emphasize a couple like Elliott and Harvick and involve more familiar betting markets, such as moneyline and point-spread type options that are so popular for football and other sports.
Matt Stallknecht, NASCAR’s senior sports betting manager, said far more “niche” sports than stock car racing saw big jumps in US betting in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19, including Korean baseball and table tennis.
“And the reason they’ve been so successful is that these sports are structured in a way, and the betting offers on these sports are structured in such a way, that are very compelling to the end user,” Stallknecht said. to the media on Wednesday. “So with things like showdowns and the spread, we’re finding ways and learning a lot about how we can take our existing products and put a little more compelling betting tradition on top of that.”
More pie for all
The focus on matches is part of the National Stock Car Racing Association’s strategy to increase the number of sports bets. And by expanding its grip, NASCAR hopes it will increase interest and, therefore, its total fan base and viewership, which remains concentrated in the southern United States.
“We want to get people who follow the sport to think not just about the winner of the race,” Stallknecht said.
NASCAR is now entering its 2022 season with four “licensed” gaming operators as partners – Barstool Sportsbook, BetMGM, Fubo Sportsbook and WynnBET – and those relationships are paying off. Namely, the organization’s share of sports betting management in the United States climbed to around 0.25% last year, compared to around 0.1% for 2020.
“And as we increase partnerships, I anticipate that trend will continue,” said Joseph Solosky, general manager of sports betting at NASCAR. “Instead of trying to take a piece of the pie from other sports, we want to make the pie bigger.”
As an example of this overall growth, Solosky pointed to a Barstool Sportsbook promotion launched last year that offered players a free bet on a Kansas City Chiefs game if they had also previously bet on the race of the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas from NASCAR.
Glad to see that our partners @WynnBET already offer lines on the #NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Colosseum. It will be a particularly compelling race from a betting perspective and happy to see sportsbooks gearing up for the event early. What odds do you like early? pic.twitter.com/kUHiQ9HAEN
— Matt Stallknecht (@mstallknecht41) January 25, 2022
Yet the drive for more grip centers on the drama of featured matches, the vision of which involves bookmakers continuing to offer straight options, but also something similar to the point spreads used for various stick sports and of ball.
Instead of points, however, a NASCAR spread would be based on the number of positions between drivers at the end of all or part of the race, such as Elliott opening as a 1.5-place favorite in a game against Harvick. If Elliott were then to finish fourth in a race and Harvick sixth, Elliott’s supporters would win their bet.
The addition of “same-race” parlays, similar to same-game parlays, is also being discussed, in which a single bet could be made on the outcome of several different bets during an event. In-play or in-race betting is another avenue of growth being considered by NASCAR, although it may take longer to materialize.
“Right now, we’re really taking that explore-before-walk-before-run approach and see how the featured match and head-to-head bets are perceived by the market in the first few months,” Solosky noted.
NASCAR’s approach was developed using conversations the organization had with savvy bettors, some of whom were not interested in betting on the sport before the pandemic. Armed with this and other information, the association aims to structure sports betting in a way that attracts new faces.
Those plans will really start to be tested again on February 6, with the Busch Light Clash taking place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the first time. Some sportsbooks already have odds for the exhibition event, which NASCAR considers a good sign.
However, the winner of the event isn’t the only thing NASCAR would like to bet on.
“I think with matchup content, if we can organically introduce that kind of thinking in the right places, not only can we increase the mastery of the sport, but I think we can get fans to watch the sport from a different way,” says Stallknecht. “And I think that’s even more important than anything for sports betting.”