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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As sports betting comes out of the shadows and the pool of potential bettors increases, companies are experimenting with ways to target general sports fans.

Why it matters: While some aspects of betting remain complex and require time and research, the basic concept of making predictions is understood by everybody.

  • So naturally, that's being used to drive engagement and get fans to download sports betting apps — even if they have no idea what a moneyline or spread is.
  • There's also an industry-wide effort to make sports betting more casual, with free-to-play games and viral promotions that an experienced bettor who takes him or herself (too) seriously might roll their eyes at.

Examples:

  • FanDuel's "Spread The Love" promo calls on bettors to rally together to drive up a team's odds to no-brainer levels (more bets placed = better odds). Last season, Colts bettors moved the spread to +51 for their game against the Saints. While New Orleans won in a rout, it was an easy cover for the Colts.
  • DraftKings just announced a deal with upstart softball league, Athletes Unlimited, that will give fans the chance to enter "free-to-play pool" challenges where they can make predictions about upcoming games.
  • Simplebet is focused on in-play micro-betting (i.e. allowing fans to predict the next pitch in baseball, the next play in football, etc.). It recently joined forces with FanDuel to offer a free-to-play game for the NFL season.
"Simplebet is designed specifically to appeal to the casual fan. It's really more of an entertainment product than a betting product, as it gamifies the live sporting event you're watching."
— Chris Bevilacqua, Simplebet co-founder and CEO

The bottom line: Sports betting was long associated with smoke-filled Las Vegas casinos. Now, it's being sold as an honest, legit and important addition to sports fandom — just another app on your phone, not too dissimilar from a game.

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Dec 22, 2020 - Sports

NBA steps out of the bubble and into the world

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Disney World bubble kept the NBA safe from COVID-19 this summer. Now comes an even greater challenge: staging a 72-game season in the real world.

Why it matters: In the bubble, the NBA made and enforced the rules, set up a complex testing program and operated three arenas. In the real world, teams will be responsible for doing everything themselves.

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The new Washington

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Axios subject-matter experts brief you on the incoming administration's plans and team.