Bonus.com Q&A With Huddle: CEO Francesco Borgosano on Odds-Making, Trading

For US online sportsbooks, every second matters. To that end, some online gambling operators are investing in real-time odds-making and trading tools. Firmly within those software providers sits New York City-based Huddle Tech. Huddle CEO Francesco Borgosano recently spoke with Bonus.com about the growing field.

At the moment, many online gambling operators are keeping their odds-making and trading solutions in-house.

However, Huddle is part of a growing group of third-party in-play odds providers to gain traction with operators.

For instance, shortly after Huddle announced on June 9 that it would grow its business significantly, operator PointsBet said on June 20 that it would partner with Nellie Analytics. The partnership is for sports analytics and quantitative modeling services.

PointsBet Group CEO Sam Swanell said:

In Nellie Analytics we have found another like-minded team of technologists, whose services we believe can accelerate our product-led strategy and thus our right to win in the USA, Canada, and Australia. In practical terms, the partnership will enable PointsBet to have more accurate lines and sharper risk management. This will flow through to our customers in the form of higher wagering limits, less price suspension, faster bet placements, and improved value for bettors.

What’s Enabling Huddle to Grow

On June 9, Huddle announced that it accepted a minority investment from Las Vegas Sands Corporation (LVS) and merged with Henderson, Nev.-based DeckPrism Sports.

None of the parties disclose the size of the investment or its terms.

However, that same day, Huddle advertised nine open positions on its careers page. In the interview below, Borgosano tells Bonus.com that the LVS funds are indeed fueling Huddle hiring.

Meanwhile, it may seem surprising to anyone who knew the late Sheldon Adelson‘s stance on online gambling that LVS would invest in Huddle. He and Steve Wynn of Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts shared resistance to online gambling.

Chairman and CEO Wynn resigned from Wynn in 2018, amid controversy. In 2020, Wynn Interactive debuted. However, its online casino and sportsbook brand, WynnBet, hasn’t fared as well as first-movers in the space.

Similarly, six months after the LVS founder, chairman, and CEO Adelson passed away, LVS announced it would enter the iGaming arena. However, it has so far shied away from the hyper-competitive B2C market in the US.

According to a July 2021 LVS press release, the legacy retail casino organization was building a digital gaming investment team in order to become “a strategic investor in digital gaming technologies focused primarily in the business-to-business space.”

What Huddle Brings to iGaming

The status quo of majority in-house odds and trading teams among online gambling operators isn’t working. So Huddle is going to do something about that, tweeted Ed Miller on June 9.

That’s the day Miller flipped from DeckPrism founder and CEO to Huddle’s vice president of innovation.

On June 9, he tweeted about the online sportsbook problem he believes Huddle will solve:

Last December I was sitting in my little strip mall office in Henderson, NV operating our in-play odds and managed trading product for a Ravens game. Lamar Jackson, the Ravens QB, went down with an injury. He’s a key player, so I immediately needed to make a major odds change.

I conferred with our trading team, and in a matter of a few seconds I had recalibrated using both data and [judgment] our assumptions about how the Ravens offense would perform for the remainder of the game, and I sent a completely updated set of odds to our customers.

Then I watched and waited. While I trade, I monitor the in-play odds at all the major Tier 1s that do significant NFL business. Tick… tick. No one had reacted to the injury. Five seconds. Ten seconds. Finally, someone reacted… and what they had done was simply copy my price.

A huge gaming company worth $10B+, who no doubt have hired a huge team of highly intelligent, qualified traders, engineers, quants, QA folks, project managers, and on down the line… likely hundreds of people…

had built an in-house trading solution for a huge sport like NFL that IN THE MOMENTS WHEN IT COUNTS MOST boiled down to simply following the work I was doing from my little office… and on a time delay of ten or more seconds.

Huddle’s Borgosano Talks to Bonus.com

Borgosano is also optimistic about Huddle’s future.

He has plenty to say about the company Crunchbase says has $3 million in funding and had 10 open positions listed Friday on its site’s career section.

The items in bold are Bonus.com‘s questions, and the answers below are Londoner Borgosano’s exact quotes.

What kinds of online gambling products are you building?

Huddle is a software and services provider for gaming operators of all sizes in regulated markets around the world. Our long-term vision is to leverage modern technologies and data-driven solutions to build products to help our partners grow their business, lower costs, and operate effectively in multiple jurisdictions; all while delivering a better experience to the end-users.

On the path to realizing our vision, we started by focusing on odds-making and trading tools. We offer a very compelling odds feed product for US sports, which includes all major professional leagues, as well as NCAA. Additionally, we provide player props and micro-markets, as well as the core markets.

We have spent the majority of our development time addressing the key pain points for operators and have focused on features, such as maximum uptime, customizable offering, and flexible integration path. We also offer trading services for customers who need an additional layer of supervision in order to protect and enhance the margin on our betting proposition.

How do you plan to use the Las Vegas Sands investment to do that?

The funds raised by Las Vegas Sands will be utilized to primarily fuel our growth through hiring. We believe technology can solve a lot of problems for gaming operators and will need to add more skilled engineers to help our existing team build and support those products.

The other area of the company that we are focused on growing is our business development team. We want to work closely with our customers to make sure we are addressing both their current and future needs.

How will your machine learning and AI efforts impact setting lines at a sportsbook?

At Huddle, we use various statistical modeling techniques. We utilize Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence for many of them. When it comes to the odds-making process, we believe that such techniques deliver particular value in model development and automated risk adjustment.

Through Machine Learning and data engineering techniques, we process large datasets to identify the most relevant features for odds forecasting, as well as underlying dynamics and trends in sports events.

Similarly, we use statistical techniques for pattern recognition in betting behavior and customer profiling to support and automate our risk management strategies.

How are sportsbooks handling setting odds now?

The sports betting industry is very diverse; therefore, there are several approaches sportsbooks take to odds-making. Broadly speaking, larger operators prefer to have in-house trading and risk teams responsible for setting the odds, while small and medium-sized operators may outsource that to third parties like Huddle.

The odds-making process is core to sportsbook operators, and there are multiple factors that contribute to the final odds consumed by the end-users. Each odds maker achieves various levels of automation based on the sophistication of the underlying trading system and methodologies. In general, both historical and live data are consumed and processed by algorithms, traders, or a combination of both to settle the odds and manage them during live events.

Are you mainly marketing your product to US online sportsbook operators?

In this phase of our company lifecycle, we are very selective in talking to potential customers. We’re focused on building long-lasting relationships with customers who are open to innovation, believe in the vision for Huddle’s technology and proposition, and want to grow with us.

While our product is naturally compelling to US sportsbook operators, we have seen meaningful demand outside of the US, given the global footprint of leagues such as the NBA and NFL. Therefore, we have also executed commercial agreements with a few European-based operators, as well.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is the lead writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She had her first published byline at age 10, but didn't get paid for her writing until she got her first newspaper job. Fletcher's newspaper career started at Suburban News Publications in Ohio and eventually took her to The New York Times, where she's still a contract freelance reporter for the National Desk. She covers breaking news from Philadelphia, as needed. In March 2021, Fletcher began writing about online casino gambling as the lead writer for Online Poker Report.

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