April 20, 2018

Benjie Cherniak – Don Best Sports: Why American Leagues could still embrace sports betting

From SBC News

by Joe Streeter

As the likelihood of overturning PASPA grows, the relationship between American sports leagues and betting operators becomes more turbulent, something that’s in no small part down to the 1% integrity fee being pitched by many of the leagues.

President of Don Best Sports, Benjie Cherniak spoke to SBCAmericas about what he believes is the real motive behind the touted integrity fee, as well as further expanding upon why American Leagues could be looking at the English Premier League as an example of how to embrace legalised betting.

SBCAmericas: With regards to the integrity fee being proposed by the leagues, do you anticipate it will actually serve any purpose in increasing integrity in sports betting?

Benjie Cherniak: The proposed fee relates primarily to NBA and MLB’s desire to secure their share of sports betting revenues. This is not to say that MLB and NBA are not concerned with integrity. Of course they are, as are all the US based leagues. The reality however is that US residents have been betting via grey markets for decades, reportedly to the tune of approximately 200 billion annually, such that integrity has always been a concern for the leagues. A PASPA repeal may result in magnification of integrity efforts to some extent, or at least increase the visibility of said efforts, but that does not mean there will be a significant correlation between an integrity fee and actual increased integrity of the games, as the leagues have been and will continue to manage this process regardless.

I think we also have to be a bit careful when we say “the leagues” because they do not seem to be operating as a united front as it pertains to the sports betting saga. The NBA and MLB have asked for an integrity fee, whereas NFL and NHL have been relatively quiet on the matter. And what about the NCAA? They are the forgotten child in this equation. Approximately 25% of betting handle in the US is on college sports, and as we know the college student athletes are not paid, making them much more ripe for corruption then the highly paid professionals. The NCAA piece should be a much bigger part of the conversation then it has been to date as this is where we see the greatest integrity risks.

SBCAmericas: Do you foresee a stage where the leagues in America embrace sports betting and work together with operators, or should we get used to this struggle?

BC: I think the relationship between the leagues, the operators, and the states will improve over time. We do not even have a Supreme Court decision yet so we need to bear in mind that these are early days. The NBA and to a lesser extent the MLB position have evolved considerably over the last 12 months and will surely continue to evolve as the landscape crystallises. That said, until we see the NFL formulate a position, we are only playing with half a deck of cards, given the NFL’s popularity this side of the pond. I do think the leagues and operators will eventually work in a more collaborative manner, but the starting point for as such is that the leagues themselves need to work in a collaborative manner. For the moment all parties are treading very carefully in an effort to understandably protect their individual interests.

SBCAmericas: Should American leagues be looking to the English Premier League as an example of how sports betting operators can be lucrative sponsorship partners?

BC: I’m sure the leagues are looking at the financial potential associated with betting operators as sponsorship partners, and of course the EPL is the gold standard. The US leagues have already partnered with leading fantasy operators, so it is within reason to think that in time they will do the same with betting operators. The EPL model is unique however, as each team gets to negotiate their own deal with betting companies as opposed to a league wide sponsorship. I do not see the US leagues voluntarily migrating to a team driven betting model but over time we could see the individual team owners pushing for exactly that as they aim to carve out their piece of the sports betting pie. Needless to say, interesting times lie ahead.


March 09, 2018

William Hill poised to up the stakes in US expansion

From SBC News

by Joe Streeter

An underlying narrative from William Hill’s departure of the Australian market this week, was that the operator is readying itself to expand its US footprint should the US Court overturn the PASPA act this year.

Since 2012 William Hill has had betting outlets in Nevada, however since the possibility of legal sports betting grew in New Jersey, the group has explored the possibility of expansion to Monmouth Park.

Furthermore having first entered the Australian market in 2013 William Hill has announced that is has agreed to dispose of William Hill Australia to Crownbet. A deal that the group’s Chief Executive Officer, Philip Bowcock emphasised would allow them “to focus on continuing to grow our UK Online and US businesses, particularly as we prepare for the decision on the PASPA appeal due in 2018.”

Don Best Sports supplies odds and data services for North American sports, the group’s Managing Director Benjie Cherniak spoke to SBC about William Hill’s decision and whether it emphasises how much focus the operator is putting on the American market.

Cherniak stated: “I think this decision is in some part based on William Hill’s desire to focus on the US market, albeit in reality they have been preparing for US expansion for a number of years now, led by William Hill CEO Joe Asher and his capable team. In fact, one can surmise that William Hill’s entry into the US six years ago, while in part based on the Nevada opportunity, was in larger part to position themselves for the eventuality of legislation and US expansion, which at the time seemed light years away but now appears to be right around the corner.

“The other factor in play here is that William Hill clearly struggled in Australia from day one. There are a preponderance of reasons for their inability to turn the corner in Oz but that is a story for another day. Would William Hill be turning their backs on Australia if they were achieving great success in said market? Highly doubtful. But given their struggles in Oz, and given the opportunity the US represents, the timing is opportune to exit at this juncture, as they now have.”

Further looking ahead to the just how competitive the market could be should it open up, he added: “We are really early in the game but it is clear that the US market will be both massively competitive and highly challenging. Competition will come in various forms, as each State will have its own legislation and its own operators, making it difficult to establish a national strategy.

“Not only does an operator need to consider its competitors from state to state, but they also have to adjust to varying tax rates, laws, and potentially sharing revenues with professional sports leagues in select jurisdictions. Not to mention the at least initially the grey market remains active, adding a less defined layer of competition to the mix. It will be interesting to see which operators are flexible enough to adapt to these challenges and realities.

“William Hill, as mentioned above, have been preparing for legislation for years, and appear to be well positioned to navigate the landscape. Interestingly, Crown buying out William Hill Australia and in turn selling 80% of shares to Stars Group may play into the US story as well. Stars already has US operations, and with Crown on board, Stars is now seemingly better positioned to formulate a US strategy then they were previously.

“It may turn out that the entity William Hill sold to in Australia eventually emerges directly or indirectly as a competitor to William Hill in the US market. It will be fascinating to see how all the above plays out in the years ahead,” concluded Cherniak.


December 19, 2017

Don Best Sports and High Tech ‘Sports Trading’ – Part 2: ‘In-game’ bets seem limitless…

From SBC News

by Robert Mann

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, 9 a.m. Pacific, and the NBA’s New Jersey Nets are about to host the Portland Trail Blazers. It’s just another ho-hum NBA game for most recreational bettors in Nevada, the only state where single-team sports wagering is legal in the United States.

However, the contest is at a more favorable time in other countries worldwide and will be one of the most highly wagered sports events in the world this day. In addition to the favorable time slot outside Nevada, gamblers all over the world will now have about 120 different betting options during the game thanks to “in-game” wagering information provided by sports data companies led by Don Best Sports, the longtime Las Vegas entity providing legal bookmakers in Mexico, Asia and Europe among other locales with the constant data stream needed for this type of bookmaking.

As my colleague, GamingToday publisher Eileen DiRocco, pointed out in these pages a few weeks ago, the major Nevada bookmaking concerns are now currently offering this kind of betting in their books and on their mobile apps, although not nearly to the extent bookmakers in many foreign countries do.

Most believe this is the future of sports betting. It’s the non-stop action many bettors, especially the younger generation, enjoy and provides the monetary competition they crave.

My host for the game is Don Best’s Craig Mucklow, 44, an advanced-degreed mathematician with an emphasis on probability and statistics who 20 years ago was one of the originators of this kind of betting. He’s now vice president of trading services at Don Best Sports. Those in the know call his actions during the game “trading.” That means he’s going to watch and listen to the game poised in front of four different computer screens and provide betting options, line moves and other data for clients where such betting is legal and regulated.

His screens update automatically after each score providing all the running totals for any statistical category you can think of. Mucklow is also watching the game on television, but his data screens update on direct data feeds from the game about two to five seconds before he sees it on “live” television.

Don Best provides this service for its customers for every NBA game, including all ten this day. The service is also available for all NFL, NHL and MLB contests as well as thousands of college basketball/football matches.

Don Best Sports takes no wagers and does not book any action on any game. Mucklow and his team merely provide the information needed for the bookmakers to do it.

The tip-off is just a tad late, but the game is underway and Mucklow’s eyes dart from screen to screen monitoring the information he’s sending to Don Best customers. There’s a betting line for the entire game that he is constantly changing according to the flow. There’s a line for each quarter, again, updated as the game continues. There are numerous bets available within the game itself. Some of the bets are called “races” in which you can bet which team reaches a certain total points target first. As mentioned earlier, there are about 120 possible bets for an NBA game, covering just about anything your mind can conjure up.

The action is fast and furious as Mucklow, the ultimate multitasker, is constantly updating his lines according to the ebb and flow of the game. When Brooklyn, a 4.5 point home underdog, darts ahead to start the contest, leading after the first quarter by nine points 32-23, Mucklow has already adjusted his spread to reflect that team members slept in their own homes the night before. He’s adjusted for the travel plans of the visiting team. When did they get to town? Where were they the night before? All of this, in addition to injuries and just about anything else you can think of that might impact the outcome.

Mucklow is well aware NBA teams often secure a lead with its starters and then generally relinquish some of it as the substitutes take the floor. He knows all NBA teams were off the day before, Thanksgiving, and Portland lost to Philadelphia on Wednesday by 20, and Brooklyn hung in longer than expected at Cleveland before losing by 10 but covering an 11-point spread. His formulas and knowledge make the game extremely predictive and as it plays out he adjusts his lines.

If bettors don’t agree, then they can go to their bookmaker and bet he’s wrong!

Some of this information is just the obvious stuff anyone risking money should know. But Don Best, utilizing Mucklow’s savvy instincts and experience, additionally has all manner of mathematical formulas and data that instantly allow him to forecast trends before, during and after the game. Bettors around the world, through their licensed bookmakers, bet into markets (betting pools) as the Don Best information appears on said bookmakers’ websites and mobile offerings almost instantaneously.

It’s fast paced, nearly non-stop action and as Mucklow forecasted, Portland outscored Brooklyn by seven in the second quarter with Brooklyn leading at the half 53-51. The total for the game is 210.5, so this game is right on target. Portland wins the third quarter by two, 41-39, and the last period again by 2, 35-33, to win 127-125. Portland might have covered the 4.5 but missed some free throws in the final seconds, in an exciting game that could have gone either way. Brooklyn gets the cover and the game goes way over, and for in-game bettors there were more than 100 other kinds of bets at their fingertips.

The prediction here is in-game wagering will continue its rapid growth. Sports bettors who have tried this seem to enjoy it. In-game wagering, for those who like to take a shot but may not have a real rooting interest in either team, makes betting more pleasurable with the bonus of being able to make a bit of cash.

What could be better than that?


December 13, 2017

The Rise And Excitement of In-Play Sports Betting

From Sportshandle.com

by Brett Smiley

When the ball is kicked off or tipped, the grind has only just begun for sports bettors and linemakers alike. The games themselves haven’t changed (well, somewhat) but growth in technology and interest have driven a major expansion of in-play sports wagering opportunities across all sports.

In some sports such as football, it’s a slightly easier to operate the wagering menu. In other games with few stoppages, the pace is a bit more frenetic. That’s where a seasoned trading veteran like Craig Mucklow comes in. (Note: “trade” or “trading” is another term for oddsmaking or linemaking; also punter means bettor, keep that in mind below.) After holding senior trading positions at Europe-based sportsbooks Paddy Power and Betfair, Mucklow joined Don Best Sports in 2013 as the company’s first Vice President of its newly-launched Trading Services Division. Don Best Sports is the leading supplier of odds and data services for U.S. sports and most likely supplies such information to the sportsbook of your choice.

SportsHandle had the opportunity to pick Mucklow’s brain all about in-play wagering as well as corresponding technology; we also discussed in-play wagering’s history, common positions among sharper and more recreational bettors, the mathematics behind rapid linemaking and much more. We hope you enjoy and learn a couple things.

Don Best Trading Veteran Explains in-Game Wagering From Player and Bookmaker Perspective Across U.S. Sports, Also Identifies ‘Sharp’ and Recreational Positions
SportsHandle (SH): For readers who have never made or even looked at in-game wagering possibilities, can you identify a few of the more popular propositions, using football and basketball as examples?

Craig Mucklow (CM): To start, there’s the standard money line, point spread and totals, which are offered not just for full games but by half and quarter, with all these variations offered as in-play betting lines during the game itself.

Aside from the basics, some of the most popular markets include “roulette”-style bets as they offer quicker returns back to customer accounts. Examples include races to 10, 20 or 30 points in basketball. For football, the next team to score, the next score type (FG, TD, safety, etc), or individual drive result (TD, FG, safety, or no score) are all compelling.

SH: Looking at the origins in-game wagering, when did sportsbooks begin to be offer these lines and how has its popularity has grown?

CM: The genesis of in-game wagering dates back 20-plus years. At that time, a punter would place a wager on a game and quickly lose interest if it was a bad bet. Bookmakers gradually began to offer in-game wagering opportunities so as to keep the punter engaged throughout the course of the match. The timing was opportune because as bookmakers migrated from brick-and-mortars to online, so the in-play wagering component emerged as a perfect complement, leading to rapid growth. Mobile was the next complementary step. In short, I think it is fair to say that online gaming and in-play betting have grown up together over this 20-year period.

Don Best Trading Veteran Explains in-Game Wagering From Player and Bookmaker Perspective Across U.S. Sports, Also Identifies ‘Sharp’ and Recreational Positions
Now that the Nevada books finally have an online/mobile component, they are playing catch-up, with gradual introduction of in-play markets, with some adopting European in-play model technology, and others wisely combining European technology with local data geared to American sports.

It all revolves around the customer experience: Who continues to watch a 46-0 blowout in football unless you have a $5 ticket with Over 46.5? Sports popularity is dependent in large part on gaming.

SH: In terms of sheer volume of wagers, which sport has become most popular in the U.S. for in-game wagering? And can you explain why?

CM: (American) Football is king in the U.S., unlike globally where from a U.S. sports perspective NBA is clearly the dominant force. Placing a bet on football is much easier than any other sport given there is a stoppage after every play and in turn a new betting opportunity. Also, college football has greater coverage in the U.S. then college basketball.

Don Best Trading Veteran Explains in-Game Wagering From Player and Bookmaker Perspective Across U.S. Sports, Also Identifies ‘Sharp’ and Recreational Positions
Trader at work.
SH: Given that everything moves at such a high rate of speed during games, can you describe your and your team of quantitative analysts/traders’ approach in-game linemaking? I imagine there’s more of an algorithmic approach and less of a human touch than there is with traditional lines.

CM: Our traders are “game managers” of our proprietary quantitative algorithms, the latter which run from start of game to finish. Certain game states you simply cannot create an algorithm for, and we train our group so as to understand teams behavior patterns in specific situations, who is on the court, momentum shifts, and how to merge that data with our proprietary algos to create a fluid yet accurate betting line. It’s a fine art as we are in effect merging a math line with customer perception into a tradable line.


December 12, 2017

Don Best Sports and High Tech ‘Sports Trading’- Part 1.

From Gaming Today

by Robert Mann

Thanks to acquaintances at Don Best, a worldwide leader when it comes to sports information, there was a recent opportunity to see the future of sports wagering. Old timers such as myself can choose to ignore it or say the relatively new take on sports betting could never be popular in the United States. However, if we believe that, we would be wrong, completely and totally wrong. Wrong with a capital W.

Craig Mucklow, 44, an advanced degreed mathematician with an emphasis on probability and statistics, provided my recent look into the future. He’s currently the vice president of trading services at Don Best Sports. When I joined him to watch what they call “trading” in his Las Vegas office, he was certainly the smartest guy in the room, as they say.
That didn’t take much. However, when it comes to sports betting he may be the smartest guy in any room.

There’s some new wagering syntax and language that rookies such as myself need to learn and understand. First, “trading” refers to almost instantaneous online wagering largely conducted by the massive online betting companies that now do business around the world. So-called “trading” is in its infancy currently in this country. Secondly, “markets” mean what’s generally called betting pools in the United States.

Don Best doesn’t accept any wagers or engage in any actual trading or bookmaking. They do not provide their trading services to any illegal sites, only to countries where its clients are licensed and regulated and where bookmaking is completely legal. The customers are in Mexico, Asia and all over Europe, among other locales.

What they do in an ultra high tech, almost instantaneous way, is provide statistics, betting lines, analysis and any other pertinent information you can think of to worldwide clients who do the actual bookmaking. Additionally, Mucklow and the others on his staff provide a breakdown of results for clients so each can determine if its profit goals, usually about 5 percent of handle, have been achieved. Another byproduct of the service allows the customer to learn, through statistical analysis, what it can do better.

If you know what day trading is in the stock market you can easily relate to Don Best’s trading services operation.
Among my many takeaways from watching Mucklow provide the data stream enabling Don Best clients to “trade” a recent game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Brooklyn Nets is that this could be the fast-paced action the huge domestic gambling companies are seeking to finally engage the younger generation. Watching the Trail Blazers and the Nets go at it was a real life struggle that, for a sports fan who likes to take a betting shot, has to be better than any video game.
Why? Because it’s real and a video game is not. The younger generation seems to crave what it considers reality. Just examine the popularity of so-called reality television programming.

The solution to the challenge in the gaming world to get millennials to better enjoy wagering might not only be under the gaming giants’ collective nose, it is in fact already operational.

Mucklow was one of the originators of “in-game” wagering about 20 years ago in his native England. The idea was way ahead of the technology and the availability of the data needed to make book. However, now with the growth and speed of the Internet, the Don Best staff is receiving information on their computer screens nearly as it happens. As Mucklow and the others monitor a basketball game, they view the score change from a missed free throw and such even before it appears on a live television feed. The slight transmission delay as a television signal is bounced off a satellite in space is just a tad slower than the live data feed from the game.

Don Best provides its clients roughly 120 different betting options in an NBA game. Each NBA game is the subject of millions and millions of dollars in worldwide betting action. The game I watched, starting at noon in the Eastern Time Zone, was highly wagered because it started at a more favorable time all over Europe where “in-game” betting is ultra popular.

Watching the action during the game was certainly an eye-opening experience.


August 1, 2017

BetVictor Selects Don Best Sports Pricing Services to Power Their Full College Basketball Offering

(London, UK/Las Vegas, USA: August 2017) BetVictor, a digital Sportsbook leader in the European market and Don Best Sports, the foremost global supplier of proprietary odds pricing for North American sporting events, have entered into an agreement whereby Don Best Sports shall provide BetVictor with a portfolio of managed American College Basketball (NCAAB) Pricing Services.

The partnership provides BetVictor with approximately 2,000 automated, in-play events per NCAAB season, including every single game of the landmark annual ‘March Madness’ invitational tournament – one of the crown jewels of global Basketball.

In addition to market-leading odds pricing, Don Best Sports offers a managed service for all in-play events, whereby partners have real-time communications access to analysts in order to jointly manage market pricing, allowing BetVictor to concentrate on customer profiling and risk management, leading to an integrated product focused on margin and turnover quality.

Chris Edwards, Head of Automated Trading at Betvictor, said: “Having a market-leading NCAAB College Basketball offering was a gap that needed filling in our sports portfolio and the coverage offered By Don Best Sports provides us with a differentiated product delivering customer choice and value.”

Don Best Sports Managing Director, Benjie Cherniak, said: “We are very proud to add BetVictor to our expanding roster of globally respected Operator partners and we look forward to delivering what we believe to be a world-class College Basketball service in terms of absolute coverage and price quality.”

The Service will be launched in time for the commencement of the 2017-2018 NCAAB season starting in November 2017.


July 8th, 2013

Don Best Sports Launches New In-Play Trading Division; Announces Appointment of VP Trading Services

Las Vegas, NV/Vancouver, BC (July 8th, 2013) – Don Best Sports, the leading supplier of odds and data services for North American sports, is excited to announce the appointment of Mr. Craig Mucklow as the inaugural Vice President of the company’s newly launched Trading Services division.

Through the launch of these new services, Don Best Sports aims to develop and provide the most accurate, reliable and broadest In-Play Pricing and Trading products covering a broad range of U.S. sports and leagues to the regulated sportsbook industry.

Craig comes to Don Best having held senior trading positions at Stan James, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and Betfair. He has acquired an industry-wide reputation as a leading specialist in U.S. sports, having consistently ensured high-margin revenue growth wherever his expertise has been applied. Craig will lead a team of quantitative analysts and live traders based in the company’s Las Vegas and Vancouver offices.

The strategic creation of this department has been spurred by customer demand for expanded In-Play market coverage for the highly profitable and growing U.S. sports betting channel and the need for regulated operators to access sharp and dependable pricing and risk-management tools.

Benjie Cherniak, President of Don Best Sports, stated: “It is a privilege to be able to welcome Craig into his new role as we launch this exciting division. There is continuous demand from our customer base for expanded in-play market coverage of highly profitable U.S. sports.  Craig’s presence bolsters our ability to offer these products to required standards, beginning with 100% coverage of the upcoming NBA season.”

About Don Best Sports:

Don Best Sports (www.donbestcorp.com) is the leading provider of real time trading and odds information relevant to North American sports. Its services are powered by a team of over 40 sports industry experts creating and aggregating continuous pricing updates for both Pre-Match and In-Play betting markets offered using proprietary client server software or through an XML subscription model. Don Best also creates in-house and private label video content related to North American sports to enhance the user experience within any online website environment. Don Best Sports is uniquely positioned to provide tailored solutions to meet the needs of all sportsbook operators with a focus on traditional American sports.

Benjie Cherniak – President
Email: bcherniak@donbest.com
Telephone: +1 (702) 579 7967
Cell: +1 (702) 370 3091



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