ICE NORTH AMERICA: The Future Of Sports Betting And Esports
This past week, I attended ICE North America. The conference, which is catered to the American sports betting and interactive gaming industry, hosted over 2,000 attendees from across the globe, all of whom shared a similar focus – the impact of sports betting and esports across the United States.
A number of league executives, operators, and politicians came together to share their thoughts about the potential effects stemming from the legalization of sports betting. Various topics were discussed, from the need for leagues to provide to “official data,” to a discussion between NFL’s Chief Strategy and Growth Officer, Chris Halpin, and DraftKings’ CEO, Jason Robins about the evolving attitudes regarding sports betting, wherein Robins stated he believed the future of sports betting would include bettors placing wagers through Amazon’s Alexa.
One of the many other highlights of ICE North America included its Start-Up Launchpad. Presented in a Shark Tank-like format with Seth Berger (Sixers Innovation Lab), Wayne Kimmel (SeventySix Capital), Evan Hoff (Velo Capital Partners), Robert Montgomery (First Maximilian Associates), and Melissa Blau (iGaming Capital) serving as judges, this panel showcased the following businesses competing to obtain investment and solidify a footprint in the sports betting / gaming industry:
Hold Gaming: Living in the intersection of esports and casino gaming, Hold Gaming is the entity behind Blackjack Fire, the first skill-based blackjack game that allows users to compete against their friends for real cash prizes. As a head-to-head hybrid math / blackjack game, Blackjack Fire’s removal of the “house,” use of virtual currency, and utilization of math and other skills, such as card counting, places the game outside of the typical casino game format.
Blackjack Fire is Hold Gaming’s first foray into the esports / skill gaming space, with the company currently developing two other gaming platforms, including one based on the popular game “Slingo.”
LineLibrary: If you are seeking a global sports betting exchange designed to hedge imbalanced action without the need of resetting lines to entice future bets, then LineLibrary is the product for you. Through its development of an infrastructure based on low-latency technology, LineLibrary allows sportsbook operators, liquidity providers, and retail bettors to capitalize on equity, or hedge risk, associated with a wager.
The first of its kind, LineLibrary has positioned itself to take over the traditional sportsbook-exchange model by providing a neutral and independent service to all operators by delivering a turnkey solution that establishes a data pipeline to directly assist professional sports leagues with their integrity objectives.
Picking Duck: “The Ultimate Fantasy Sportsbook Contest,” Picking Duck offers a unique way for players to earn real money without having to risk their own. Each week, users are provided virtual currency to place real-time bets, with the most successful earning placement on the board of “Hot Players.” Looking to ride the wave of a player on a four-day heater? Picking Duck offers a sports pick marketplace, where “Hot Players” may list their bets for sale so other players can purchase the ability to view potential moneymaking opportunities. .
Wannamakeabet: Similar to traditional fantasy sports, Wannamakeabet gives players the opportunity to compete in a season long sports betting league. Whether private or public, each league’s members are provided a bankroll of points they may use to place wagers on real time sporting events. Upon conclusion of the league (as determined by the commissioner), whoever’s earned the most points wins. Wannamakeabet allows friends to find out who is the best bettor among them without risking real money.
Win.gg: An esports media outlet that also runs its own “Winners League”, Win.gg bills itself as the gateway to all things esports. With a team of experts tasked with providing breaking news stories, analysis, and live reports, Win.gg provides users the chance to create a customizable experience based upon original content, while also sharing live scores and statistics from other leagues covering esports titles such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, and Dota 2.
Win.gg also engages in predictive based analytics through its use of data pulled from esports tournaments in order to offer reliable match predictions and analysis. With launch of a native mobile application planned for July and paid subscription based service in 2020, Win.gg aims to be a one-stop shop for any and all esports needs.
Each presenter delivered a strong case why their product is the future of sports betting and esports, but in the end, it was LineLibrary that walked away as winner of Ice North America’s 2019 Start-Up Launchpad. Nevertheless, it is exciting time for gaming industry, and each startup – in addition to the other exhibits pitched throughout the conference – should be considered players for years to come.