Axios Pro Exclusive Content

MaximBet CEO Dan Graetzer on building a sportsbook

Tim Baysinger
Jun 13, 2022
Photo illustration of Dan Graetzer, founder and CEO of MaximBet, with an image of people using phones to make sports bets.
Photo illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios. Photo: courtesy of MaximBet

MaximBet founder and CEO Dan Graetzer is betting that intertwining gambling with lifestyle and gaming will help the company survive the inevitable consolidation.

Why it matters: The sports gambling space has grown exponentially over the past few years, but there can only be so many sportsbooks.

  • "There's a whole underserved part of the market," Graetzer says, suggesting that, at most, around 20% of North Americans are sports betting fans. "There's people who have never bet before, or they will they walk past the casino floor and they don't know how to get involved."

The big picture: As more and more states make sports betting legal, gambling has gone mainstream and opened the floodgates for companies like FanDuel, DraftKings and PointsBet to take part in a market that casinos and racetracks had all to themselves.

  • As gambling becomes a more accepted aspect of pop culture, Graetzer argues his app's competition isn't merely other sportsbooks. "We don't see DraftKings or FanDuel or MGM or Caesars as our competition," he says. "We see entertainment as our competition."
  • Fox launched its own sportsbook, Fox Bet, in 2019, while Disney's ESPN has considered licensing its name to a sportsbook. Caesars Entertainment is launching a podcast network with Peyton Manning's Omaha Productions as part of a wider content deal.

The latest: Last month, MaximBet added Nicki Minaj as an investor and ambassador.

  • Graetzer would not say how much Minaj is investing but describes her role as a "meaningful relationship." In addition to advising the board, she will work with MaximBet on merchandise, parties, partnerships, fan experiences and branding and serve as creative director for Maxim Magazine.
  • Colorado Rockies player Charlie Blackmon is also a brand ambassador

Catch up quick: MaximBet launched last September in Colorado as a partnership between Carousel Group and Maxim.

What's next: MaximBet will debut in Indiana and Iowa next, and it has additional market access in New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, along with several other markets, including Ontario.

  • "First and foremost, we're a sportsbook," Graetzer says. "But we're also rolling out a bunch of free-to-play products. We're rolling out all kinds of different ways for people to get involved in our business. We've got a merch line coming out with Nicki Minaj."

The bottom line: "I see a huge crossover from mainstream media into this space, as we all do. I see that's where the market's going. I think some brands may struggle to come from out of nowhere into this space, but I definitely see everyone getting more and more involved in the space," he says.

Go deeper