Sports Gambling App Wants You to Bet Your Friends
(Bloomberg) -- Sports gambling is becoming serious business, and the big fish are already in the water. Now, the opportunity may lie in helping less die-hard fans bet against each other.
That’s the wager Lucra Sports, which counts Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry as an investor, is making. The gaming platform lets fans bet against their friends rather than using casinos or traditional sportsbooks. The company, which is already operating legally in 37 states, seeks to be a venue where people who know each can gamble without the hassle of collecting cash the next morning.
“The impetus for this company is I was doing this on Venmo,” Chief Executive Officer Dylan Robbins said by phone. “You’re no longer chasing your friends for money on a Monday or Tuesday.”
The company raised $1.6 million in seed funding in May and is raising a Series A in the next few weeks, Robbins said. Beyond Lasry, Lucra backers include Jim Pallotta’s Raptor Group as well as current and former athletes like tennis player John Isner and Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz and U.S. women’s soccer national team midfielder Julie Ertz.
Lucra sees “a lot of pent-up demand” in states like New York and California, where it can operate despite sports betting being illegal, Robbins said. The company follows a model that heavyweights like DraftKings Inc. and Flutter Entertainment Plc’s FanDuel took mainstream with their daily-fantasy sports offerings, which are legal in most states because they’re considered “games of skill” instead of gambling.
The company has already had success in its pre-launch, attracting about 1,500 users over a three-week period. Users generally skew younger because at least for now Lucra is focusing on college students and social engagement. Most of the initial players are first-time gamblers who are betting $10 per contest on average.
Lucra’s concept of being an approachable and social-first platform has, in part, helped it attract female users at a higher clip than the industry average, the company says. Women account for nearly one-fifth of its active players, while they comprise about 2% to 5% of daily fantasy sports monthly active users, according to Lucra’s estimates.
“We’re trying to remove some of the more traditional sports betting language that we think is sort of a barrier to being more approachable,” said Hannah Farr, Lucra’s Chief Operating Officer.
The app charges a 5% fee from the winner’s total pay, which is less than what daily fantasy sports providers typically collect. It also enables users to share potential wagers with a friend, a group of friends or across its broad public feed in all 37 states.
Users can make bets in the same sport (like whether NFL quarterbacks Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes will throw for more touchdowns in a given week) or across sports (as in whether tennis star Serena Williams will have more aces in a match than NBA sharpshooter Steph Curry will make three-pointers in a game).
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