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Would official data from the NBA be good for sports bettors?

NBA star Steph Curry

NBA Curry
A flurry of in-game statistics is set to be provided to sports books from the NBA in the coming 2018/19 season to improve odds and the betting service to American punters.

Scott Kaufman-Ross, an NBA executive, claimed “There’s a couple things about official data that make it advantageous for sports betting. Most is the speed….That’s important for in-game betting.”

If you’ve ever followed sports scores on a gaming site that offers in-game odds, then you’ve probably noticed that the odds change nearly every time something happens. The pace of the changing odds is a reason why punters might need lightning-fast information. It’s this service that the NBA wants payment for.

“My view is we should be compensated for our intellectual property, but we can do that directly, again, with commercial relationships with gaming establishments,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.

But there is a question of how useful league-provided statistics would be for bettors that have little time to research decisions. If, for example, a punter was trying to decide if $3.50 was good on a team down by 10 heading into the 4th quarter what stats would help?

How many times the team made a comeback in the 4th quarter might seem relevant. But any stat in isolation can paint too shallow of a picture. With in-game betting, time is of the essence so you can’t really crunch everything you need.

There’s no guarantee that the NBA will provide the gold-nugget stats that are most pertinent. Accordingly, the best in-game bettors are just going to be NBA enthusiasts that bring a lot of their own insight into a game.

As a tip, one thing to be aware of with basketball in-play betting is the foul-trouble situation. If, for example, the best scorer on a team picks up a critical foul then you need to have a good (and fast) understanding of who is likely to get more offensive touches with that scorer on the bench. You could, for example, bet on Kevin Durant to score OVER a certain number of points in a game precisely because Steph Curry just went out and Durrant will be relied on more.

But unless the NBA stats are right on cue with relevant information, you’ll just need to be self-reliant for this. Chances are the NBA stats, being read on the fly, are just going to be confounding and won’t help punters much at all.

In fact, the “official data” might actually be a bad thing for bettors. After all, the sportsbooks will have to pay out to the NBA for the data and that cost will, in turn, have to be recovered from the sportsbook’s customers (ie. people that lose bets). That could have implications for the betting odds that are offered.

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