[toc]Widespread regulated and legal sports betting is the endgame that many want to see in the United States, eventually.
The path to get there, however, is not a straight line from point A to point B.
Lots of products — daily fantasy sports included — are attempting to serve as the bridge to single-game sports betting in the US outside of Nevada while the federal prohibition persists.
But other than DFS, will any of them catch on in a major way?
WinView and in-game prediction games
The sports betting variant to catch everyone’s attention of late is WinView Games, which is best described as a social in-play sports betting app. The company announced a $12 million Series B funding round this week, led by the likes of Washington Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis’ Monumental Sports & Entertainment.
The game is free to play — there are no real-money bets or entry fees — but does feature cash prizes. The platform is largely funded by advertising, currently. Offering users the chance to place real-money wagers is in the plans, according to the Washington Post, and my previous conversations with WinView CEO David Lockton.
WinView allows users to play along in real time with live televised sports, trying to predict props offered by the platform throughout the real-world sporting events for sports like the NFL and NBA.
Will WinView break through, though? It is not exactly a new endeavor; it’s been around for a couple of years, testing and refining its product. The company also raised $3 million last year.
The new round will hope to help it progress past a niche offering. More from Tom Rogers, executive chairman of WinView:
“Following last fall’s successful start, these investments will enable us to take a significant step forward toward reaching our mobile, social and gaming business goals while capitalizing on fan excitement across virtually all professional sports including basketball, baseball and football. We also will strive to be part of the in-stadium experience, enabling fans to predict plays from their seats.”
This is easily the best funded of the prediction-style sports betting games. Other iterations include ringit! by iPro and Boom Fantasy.
The subgenre has yet to take off in a major way, either with paid entries or as a free game. But WinView’s new funding round could change that.
Social casino sports betting?
Another “sports betting-lite product” is actual sports betting, minus the money.
Social casino company FlowPlay recently announced the launch of the industry’s first social sports white-label solution.
It’s not some hastily thrown together sports betting platform. The statistics and data behind the virtual sportsbook is powered by Sportradar.
Social casino offerings (and sports betting here) generally avoid a lot of the legal and regulatory hurdles that real-money offerings bump up against. And that’s part of the pitch from FlowPlay; from a press release:
Especially built for the U.S. market where real-money gambling online is illegal and unregulated in nearly all forms, FlowPlay’s platform leverages free-to-play mechanics. Through this regulation-free approach, FlowPlay is granting partners access to a variety of free-to-play fantasy sports offerings such as daily fantasy sports (DFS), real-time betting experiences, and traditional sportsbooks.
Should sports betting become legal, products that are closest to real sports betting have the best chance of making an immediate impact. Which means companies that offer something like FlowPlay’s social sportsbook might have a leg up in the future.
There is some cross-over here with the prediction models above, particularly Boom Fantasy. But there are also other things that blur the line between fantasy and sports betting, or at least look to iterate daily fantasy beyond the core salary-cap model of DraftKings and FanDuel.
- The planned FastPick platform in New Jersey, which is likely to see rollouts beyond that state eventually.
- Pari-mutuel operator USFantasy in Nevada and Colorado.
- FanDuel’s NBA InPlay.
- Paddy Power Betfair acquired mobile-first fantasy platform Draft.
And that’s just a sampling of what’s out there, although they are all niche offerings so far. The goal of these products: Take fantasy and make it easier to play, and more like sports betting.
Which, if any, of the above ideas are going to catch on? We’ll have to wait to find out. But you can be assured people will continue to try to find ways to create products to fill the vacuum while single-game sports wagering remains illegal.
Image credit: Juerg Schreiter / Shutterstock.com