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
Oct 15, 2020 - Sports

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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