WinView Games is taking the next step with its in-game sports prediction contests — putting on contests for real money.
WinView Games, at a glance
What’s WinView? The company says it’s not sports betting, and it’s not daily fantasy sports. What it is is an engaging way to follow along with live sporting events with a monetary interest on the line.
The platform has been around for a few years, fine-tuning its contests and the software behind them. The contests have only been free to play so far. But that’s changing in a big way with WinView’s roll-out of contests where users pay an entry fee.
“We always intended to go to the paid-entry model,” WinView CEO David Lockton told Legal Sports Report. “But there were a lot of things that we needed to perfect and a lot of feedback we needed to get. So the free approach has enabled us to perfect the gameplay and to learn what it is that is expected by paid-entry players.”
Users join contests based on a small portion of specific sporting events — a quarter of an NFL or NBA game, for instance — with a set number of other users. Once in the contests, users have a pool of points with which they can attempt to make predictions based on questions posed to them by a “producer” for each game. You answer the questions as you watch the live game on television. Examples can include questions like:
- Who will win the opening tip of the Cleveland-Golden State game?
- Will the Philadelphia Eagles get two or more first downs on its first drive?
- Will Houston commit a turnover before San Antonio commits its next foul?
Questions are offered before the contest and during timeouts in the action. The questions resolve almost in real time. You’ll generally get to pick from about 20 props during each contest.
When picking the answer to a question, users will also get odds multipliers based on which event the producer believes is more or less less likely. Risk more points, get more points in the contest. Pick the less likely events correctly, get more points.
The players accumulating the most points by the end of the contest win cash prizes. You can enter multiple contests, but your answers will be the same across all of them. Contests are generally limited to games televised nationally.
The app is available through the iTunes store and via the site itself for Android. The app has been downloaded more than 150,000 times so far, according to WinView. Here’s a quick primer:
Playing the contests
From playing WinView’s contests during its initial rollout, I can tell you the contests are extremely engaging, and it doesn’t take your attention away from watching the underlying game. I recently watched an NBA game from start to finish that was not terribly close after the first quarter, just so I could keep playing in contests. The platform is intuitive and easy to use.
Contests for now are relatively small. You’re also able to chat with the game producer and other users in each contest, making the games more social. Free contests are still available.
The rake — the percentage WinView takes of total entry fees — is higher than you would generally encounter in DFS. For instance, a $5 contest with 25 players pays out $105, with $20 going to the site.
Cashiering is easily done via PayPal.
WinView is offering contests for both the AFC and NFC championship games this weekend. If anyone who enters a paid contest gets all of the props correct, they’ll get a $12,500 jackpot from WinView. One user came within one question of winning last weekend.
Is WinView legal?
The company is currently live in 36 states for real as a “game of skill,” with more reportedly on the way. The current list where WinView does not operate:
- New Jersey*
- South Carolina
* Planned for future operation
WinView on its website says that its “paid contests are 100% legal.” Their 20-prop quarterly contest almost certainly requires skill to win, although results of individual props may not always reward the most skilled players.
The contests also don’t meet the definition of “fantasy sports” as codified in laws across the country, as WinView contests are not based entirely on player performances.
“We’re still a core game of skill that’s played against people in real time, and way above all the other categories and nuances of skill games in the way that we conduct our contests,” Lockton said. “We’ve designed these games with state laws in mind. We never anticipated the daily fantasy laws when we started doing, this, and quite frankly we’re happy to be in our own category, which is where we’ve always been.”
There is definitely strategy needed to win. For instance, a conservative strategy of assigning low point values to predictions will almost never result in winning cash prizes.
The product has been tested by Gaming Labs International to ensure regulatory compliance and geolocation for states where it is not allowed.
Why WinView can make it
There are lots of reasons that WinView has a chance to break through and find success with its real-money product:
- The market for in-game sports contests in the US is extremely underserved. The federal sports betting ban in the US keeps in-game wagering offshore, while DFS products have not really broken through with in-game products — both for practical and regulatory reasons. In-game wagering is a big part of the sports betting sector in Europe.
- Three quarters of the audience is a coveted 18-34 demographic. WinView players watch about 10 NFL quarters or about eight hours of NFL content each week, according to WinView’s data.
- The app has been “sticky” so far. Someone who plays along eight or more times almost always comes back to play regularly, according to WinView.
- WinView is dedicating resources to its contests even as it is starting out. WinView says its production studio is filled with over 30 producers across 14 studio bays. It is currently producing 10 NBA games a week, which will increase to 15 after the NFL playoffs.
Acquiring enough customers to make the product work financially will likely be WinView’s biggest hurdle. The company is hoping that the product is fun enough that it grows organically in a world where legal options for winning money based on sports are limited.