NBA Team to Open In-Arena Predictive Sports Betting in March

Sacramento Kings stadium
The Sacramento Kings are opening a predictive gaming lounge at their stadium.

30-second summary:

  • The NBA’s Sacramento Kings are opening a predictive sports lounge in their arena
  • Fans can make predictions for free on the games and could earn raffle tickets
  • This will be the first lounge of its kind in the NBA
  • The NBA has long embraced sports betting in a variety of ways

Predictive gaming

The NBA is one of the major sports leagues that is really throwing itself into the deep end with sports betting. Its teams are now looking at ways in which they too can benefit from legal sports betting.

Although sports betting is currently not legal in California, the Sacramento Kings NBA team hope to capitalize on this growing trend. They are looking at implementing the next best thing to sports betting at their playing arena: predictive gaming.

The Sacramento Kings are opening a new lounge for predictive gaming. The Sacramento Kings Skyloft Predictive Gaming Lounge will launch on March 17 when the team play the Chicago Bulls. Fans will be able to place their predictions on the outcome of the game for free.

What’s on offer?

Team chairman and owner Vivek Ranadive announced the move. He said: “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.”

This, of course, is very similar to actual sports betting, just without the stakes. Currently, there is no such lounge at any of the other NBA teams’ playing arenas. There are sports betting lounges in the NHL, such as at the home of the New Jersey Devils.

Fans who have free credits will be able to place their predictions at the Kings’ lounge. Some of the markets that will be available on the games will be victory margin, number of player blocks, total team points, steals, turnovers and triple-doubles.

Winners will receive more credits. The top five performing fans will then be entered into a raffle to win tickets to games and autographed Sacramento Kings gear.

NBA’s sports betting moves

The NBA has been the most progressive of the major sports leagues in pursuing opportunities in the sports betting space. While it supported the federal sports ban for many years, now that it has been overturned it is looking to get its own slice of the pie.

Initially, the NBA’s main focus was on receiving integrity fees, which would be a cut of every sports bet on the league’s games. The proceeds supposedly would go towards the NBA’s monitoring systems to ensure the integrity of the sports remains.

Along with the NHL, the NBA lobbied hard in individual states to have an integrity fee clause included in the final draft of sports betting bills. However, to date, no state has made provision for integrity fees in a sports betting bill.

But with many more states set to legalize sports betting in 2019, a few are seriously considering integrity fees that would range from 0.2% to 1%. These states include New York, Massachusetts, Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa.

The NBA’s official gaming partner in North America is MGM Resorts. It also has a European partner – the French National Lottery. This means these organizations have access to valuable league data. In return, the NBA will get help to monitor suspicious betting activities.

It is also looking at licensing its official, and highly valuable, live data to sportsbook operators, who find it vital for setting odds.

Potential in California for sports betting

There are parties calling for legal sports betting in California. However, the make-up of the laws will make it hard to do so.

Assemblyman Adam Gray submitted a sports betting bill shortly after the ending of the federal ban in May 2018. However, it did not receive enough support to make it onto the November ballot.

There are plans to have such a bill put on the 2020 ballot. Backers will need to accumulate at least 585,000 signatures before the end of February 2019 to get a place on the ballot.

Tribal gambling facilities in the state will likely oppose a move to make sports betting legal. As they have significant political clout, there could be a drawn-out battle on the issue.

Across the country, tribal casinos have been slow to embrace sports betting. This is largely due to the slim margins and high costs in setting up and operating a sportsbook.