Less than 10% of the betting handle on the UFC happens during the fights, but sportsbooks are looking to change that as gambling on sports continues to go more mainstream.
Rush Street Interactive on Friday announced a data and content partnership with IMG Arena, which gives the sports betting firm access to UFC Event Centre, the MMA promotion’s official data feed for live fights. RSI operates the BetRivers Sportsbook in Indiana, Colorado, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.
The deal was arranged just in time for UFC 254 this past Saturday.
The UFC Event Centre is touted as “the gaming industry’s first sports betting product created specifically for a major sports brand.” The product provides “official data delivery in less than two seconds” and “live betting data points.” The UFC Event Centre add-on for a sportsbook provides it with more efficient in-fight betting capabilities that improve the bettor experience, according to IMG Arena.
Executives weigh in on the product
IMG Arena, launched in 2012, is based out of London and has relationships with more than 460 sportsbook operators across the globe, according to its presser.
“In 2019, more than 175 million hours of IMG Arena content was watched by 56 million unique viewers around the globe,” the company said in the presser. “IMG Arena’s clients include the ATP, UFC, the PGA TOUR, European Tour, the FA Cup, and Serie A.”
In addition to UFC Event Centre, IMG Arena also sells sportsbooks a “Golf Event Centre.”
RSI called UFC Event Centre “the next generation of fan engagement.”
“The UFC brand is extremely powerful and already resonates strongly with the key demographics of global sports betting consumers,” said RSI President Richard Schwartz. “We strongly believe this groundbreaking product will bring greater entertainment value to our players’ betting experience.”
The UFC Event Centre product was announced in late 2019. California-based Endeavor Group Holdings is a majority owner of the UFC and also owns IMG Arena. “The UFC Event Centre and its official data feed will be a game changer for how UFC fans engage with our events through sportsbooks and gaming operators,” UFC President Dana White said in a presser announcing the product.
U.S. online/mobile sportsbooks can take live wagers on UFC fights without the product, but UFC Event Centre shaves off some crucial seconds needed to process wagers. MMA is a high-pace sport. In-game wagering is still a fledgling vertical in the nascent U.S. sports betting market, accounting for a minority of industry handle. However, in European markets in-game wagering accounts for a significant majority of the handle, and that’s expected to be replicated in the U.S. in the near future.
In exchange for access to UFC Event Centre, online/mobile sportsbooks pay a licensing fee and share an undisclosed portion of the gaming win from UFC fights.