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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
Aug 17, 2021 - Sports

The sports world's "decacorn"

Expand chart
Data: Crunchbase; Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios

Fanatics has nearly tripled in value over the last year. Now, the e-commerce giant wants to expand into new businesses like sports betting, ticketing and media.

Driving the news: Fanatics closed a $325 million funding round last week that values the company at $18 billion, making it the world's 12th-most valuable private company, per CB Insights.

44 mins ago - World

Brazil senators vote to recommend criminal charges for Bolsonaro

Brazilian senators vote on probe into President Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic. Photo: Gustavo Minas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.

Former Georgetown tennis coach pleads guilty to accepting admissions bribes

Gordon Ernst (left) former head tennis coach at Georgetown, outside a courthouse in Boston in 2019. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A former Georgetown University head tennis coach has pleaded guilty Tuesday to bribery charges related to facilitating the admission of prospective applicants.

Why it matters: Gordon Ernst solicited and accepted bribes from William Singer, ringleader of the cheating scheme uncovered by Operation Varsity Blues, and families in exchange for helping prospective applicants get into Georgetown as student athletes, according to the Justice Department.