As new jurisdictions regulate and open to meet the significant consumer demand, igaming and online betting are to gain ground across North America.
The growth of sports leagues, coupled with the integration of local sportsbooks, has accelerated the penetration in the U.S. and Canada. The rising presence of legal sports betting has also allowed governments to explore opportunities in the form of tax revenue and job opportunities. In particular, the regulated US sports betting industry is expected to grow from non-existent as of 2018 to nearly $40 billion in annual revenues by 2033, according to Goldman Sachs.
To start playing beyond the US states where sports gambling is already legal (see The American Gaming Association for the complete list), readers can also have a look at top Canada sportsbook reviews on basketball insiders to easily find a website that fit their betting needs.
In this new environment, venture capital firms have showed a renewed interest in the sector trying to catch billion dollar opportunities given by the new market conditions. In the latest months, some firms have launched their funds and announced investments in tech startups.
Among them, SeventySix Capital, a sports industry venture capital firm led by Wayne Kimmel, Jon Powell and Chad Stender, invests in sports betting, esports, and sports technology startups. The firm recently announced the initial closing of its second fund and announced investments in Quintar, NFT PRO™, and Lucra Sports.
Led by Dr. S. “Jay” Jayaram and Dr. Jeff Jonas, who sold their last company to Intel in 2016, Quintar is an augmented reality (AR) based fan technology company enabling content owners, creators, and rights holders to build captivating live action AR experiences and revolutionize fan engagement. Other investors in the round included Cowles Company, Assam Ventures and Pragya Ventures.
NFT PRO is an enterprise white label NFT solution for global brands. They provide turnkey solutions – creating, minting, marketing, and selling NFTs from a brand’s website and digital properties making the customer experience seamless and on-brand. Led by Founder and CEO Christian Ferri, NFT PRO™ has high-profile clients such as Juventus, Atari and Lamborghini. VU Venture Partners also invested in the round.
Led by CEO Dylan Robbins, COO Hannah Farr, and CTO Ed Psyk, Lucra Sports is a social-first sports gaming platform, currently available via the Apple App Store to adults in 37 states. It is a peer-to-peer, real money sports gaming platform that allows fans to compete with their friends. Other backers in the round include Toy Ventures, Raptor Group, Milwaukee Bucks owner & Avenue Capital founder Marc Lasry, and professional athletes including John Isner, ATP tennis player, Julie Ertz, U.S. women’s national soccer team 2X World Cup Champion, and Zach Ertz, 3X Pro Bowl Tight End and Super Bowl Champion with the Philadelphia Eagles.
SeventySix Capital’s existing portfolio companies also include C360, Diamond Kinetics, Fortē, Maestro, Nerd Street, Play by Play, ShotTracker, Swish Analytics, and U.S. Integrity. In 2021, the firm has also sold three portfolio companies including: VSiN, a sports betting media network (sold to DraftKings – Nasdaq: DKNG), Vigtory, a next generation sportsbook (sold to FuboTV – NYSE: FUBO), and Team Whistle, a sports and entertainment media company (sold to ELEVEN SPORTS).
The firm’s new fund invests in startup companies that are disrupting and innovating the sports industry through the use of analytics, data and technology.
In addition, Bettor Capital, which an investment platform focused on the real money online gaming market opportunity, announced the initial closing of its Fund I. The fund makes early-stage investments in software and technology facilitating real money online gaming operations, with a primary focus on the North American market. Founded by David VanEgmond, joined by Jake Kleiner, Bettor Capital has formally established a group of Fund Advisors including Melissa Blau, founder of iGaming Capital, former General Partner and Co-Founder of a $450m MediaTech venture capital fund in association with Bear Stearns; Julie Haddon, former Senior Vice President of Global Brand & Consumer Marketing for the NFL; Steve Kaplan, co-owner of multiple professional sports teams including DC United and Swansea City; Carl Sottosanti, former Executive Vice President and General Counsel at Penn National Gaming, Inc. where he served for nearly two decades; Carl Vogel, private investor and advisor; current board member at multiple public companies including SiriusXM; former Chairman of the Board of FanDuel; former President of Dish Networks and CEO of Charter Communications.
Sharp Alpha Advisors
Sharp Alpha Advisors recently closed Sharp Alpha Fund I, a $10m venture capital fund investing in early stage sports betting technology companies. Backed by Great Elm Group and the Dutch Sport Tech Fund, as well as a number of multi-billion dollar venture capital funds, family offices, private equity groups, and senior executives from several of the world’s largest investment banks, hedge funds, and publicly traded sports betting companies and based in New York City, the fund targets initial allocations averaging $250k in Seed and Series A financings, with plans to provide follow-on support in subsequent rounds. Led by Lloyd Danzig, Managing Partner, the fund has already invested in 11 startups, including Players’ Lounge, a community of gamers competing in skill based head to head competitions and tournaments for cash prizes, GridRival, a sports betting startup, among others.