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In its first significant product agreement, sports tech company Simplebet will join forces with FanDuel Group to launch a free-to-play game to offer mock in-play bets for the 2020 National Football League season.
Simplebet allows users to wager on quick odds like which player will make the next catch or will the next call be a passing or running play. As part of a one-year agreement, FanDuel will use the free game in its sportsbook and mobile app to convert casual fans into consumer willing to bet real money.
Though the initial agreement is for the free game, Simplebet wants to reach a long-term deal with FanDuel to install its tech to offer real bets. Simplebet is finalizing other commercial agreements for its micromarket technology.
Simplebet co-founder and CEO Chris Bevilacqua described the agreement with FanDuel as a distribution and marketing deal. The company wants to increase its brand awareness and collect fan engagement data to expand its “micromarket” betting platform.
The technology uses machine learning and automation to generate fast betting opportunities throughout a sporting contest.
“It hasn’t been done before because no one ever made the investment in machine learning and automation that’s required to enable this type of betting,” Bevilacqua told CNBC.
“These are all microbetting opportunities that are very engagement driven,” Bevilacqua said. “We’re turning what typically used to be a handful of bets and traditional bets, like over-under and outcome-based bets, where you have to watch the whole game, into a series of minigames throughout a game,” he said.
The company wants to analyze how “users are interacting, collect data, be able to see the user data and see how we can refine the product,” Bevilacqua said. He added that sports leagues and media companies are intrigued by Simplebet’s fan engagement data and what that does for consumption.
Simplebet launched its technology in August. Investors include Philadelphia 76ers co-owner David Blitzer and Yahoo founder and San Francisco Giants co-owner Jeff Mallett. The firm has raised $35 million, including an $11 million Series B in February.
Bevilacqua said the company is receiving interest from new investors and is in discussions for a Series C round.
“There might be more value on the fan engagement piece to media companies initially than there will be revenue for sports betting companies because it’s such a new category of business,” he said. “Micromarkets are brand new, and we think it’s going to grow and accelerate pretty quickly.
“These types of bets are the way people watch the game,” Bevilacqua said. “It lends itself to the way people consume sports — in a casual manner. We think it’s going to be an engaging product.”
Disclosure: CNBC parent Comcast and NBC Sports are investors in FanDuel.