As the sport continues its tumultuous comeback during the pandemic, a new daily fantasy sports platform is betting that a less transactional experience – based on elements of social gaming – will appeal to casual fans more broadly.
After closing a $ 2 million funding round led by Sinai Ventures, Muse Capital and B-Fore Capital, Betcha is getting off to a smooth start this week as a daily fantasy sports platform for traditional sports and esports with real money games. But the company doesn’t just want to be another FanDuel or DraftKings, so it’s building a “social gamified experience” to unlock network effects and differentiate itself from more number-oriented platforms.
“Our vision is to turn game prediction into a game by combining the ability to win real money with unique and social gamification features,” said Jason Shapiro, Betcha Revenue Director.
This strategy includes borrowing from elements of successful social fitness companies such as Peloton and Strava, which leverage geographic and interest-specific peer groups to drive engagement. Peloton, for example, allows people with common interests, like moms in the San Francisco Bay Area, to unlock carpool badges or compete for places on the leaderboards to hold each other accountable. Betcha’s version is all about having fan-based ownership challenges with people who share, for example, similar team loyalties. Any New York Yankees fan, for example, could compete for a chance to become a virtual commissioner, owner or general manager who will unlock prizes, merchandise, tickets and VIP experiences.
“Peloton is an interesting competition for us,” said Shapiro. “We’re both taking a single player game and layering social elements on top of it.”
Betcha also borrows from playbooks from social game companies like Fortnite and Candy Crush to create network effects. It does this by creating a financial incentive for groups of friends to submit bets together, even if they are supporting opposing teams. Users can invite up to five of their Betcha friends to submit entries for a particular event. For each friend who also places an entry on the same game, all potential payouts increase by 0.1x, giving everyone the chance to increase their winnings by 0.5x per game.
“When you’re in that real-life setting and betting against each other and there’s a component of trash talk, or betting with each other and looking for the same outcome, that’s the thing. ‘experience that people tend to gravitate towards, ”Shapiro says. “It creates a ton of value on the platform to do it together even if you don’t agree.”
Betcha has put a lot of effort into figuring out why social games make people “spend so much time, money and effort on perfecting themselves and securing things that have no tangible value.” Betcha allows users to follow friends or influencers and engage with their choices, go on missions, appear in leaderboards, and complete challenges. The games are structured like props (think: top / bottom) in which users compete against the house, similar to Betcha Monkey Knife Fight competitor.
It also uses a virtual currency that cannot be withdrawn to further incentivize users to submit entries. Normally, in a parlay (multi-bet), a user would lose if they missed a single choice. At Betcha, a user will get back part of their Betcha Bucks entry fee if they get 50% or more of their correct choice.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has caused extreme uncertainty in sports and barred fans from attending matches in person, it has created an immediate need to connect through digital platforms in a social way. Shapiro highlights the success esports and mobile games had during the sports blackout as an example of how consumers are looking for connection online.
“The growth of mobile gaming continues to be off the charts,” Shapiro says. “We think the ability to do these things through our platform, and the fact that we see ourselves almost as a game in and of itself rather than a new sports and fantasy betting platform, is going to align quite well with that. the new COVID standard. “
Added to this is the desire of physical casino operators to attract younger fans to their online gaming platforms and associated outlets, especially since many of them have been forced to close for a few years. months during quarantine. This trend started before the pandemic, however, with Penn National Gaming buying a stake in Barstool Sports in February in an effort to attract younger consumers.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Scott Butera, President of Interactive Gaming at MGM Resorts International, said that sports-related experiences (like sports betting) have fueled engagement and led to revenue growth for his products and brands. He predicted that more festive experiences around the sport would boost global betting and introduce more casual fans to predictive gambling.
“If you create some kind of competition out of sports betting where it’s not just about checking your bank statement, it’s about seeing where you stack up against your peers, or creating a stadium experience. where you have people competing against each other or in other arenas, you can create something much more interesting, ”said Butera.
Betcha aims to seek partnership opportunities in the months and years to come, which could include partnering with a major gaming operator to bring sports betting to its more laid-back fan base, or act as a fantastic white label product. which could be used by non-endemic sports and media brands. Casino companies “have an aging demo and are struggling to attract young people,” Shapiro explains. “There is no doubt that some of the elements that we have incorporated will be attractive for a young demo. “
And although there were initially fears that this trend could lead to “a lot of cannibalization” in the industry, Shapiro says it is also possible “that the opposite is true and that they may in fact reach younger consumers. where they are not necessarily going to these places.
Betcha has obtained regulatory approval to immediately launch in 20 states plus DC, with plans to eventually deploy 30 or more. Among his notable advisers are Seth Schorr, president of Fifth Street Gaming; Neil Shah, former head of design at Verizon and chief marketing officer of Venmo; and two former executives of DraftKings.
“Sports betting marketing as it is today has not changed for 30 years, although people in the industry say there is clearly an opportunity to do so,” Shapiro said. “We hope to be at the forefront of moving this experience forward.”
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