From its humble beginnings as a social sports betting platform in September 2018, Betsperts Media & Technology Group has seen its popularity and reach take off over the past 12 months – starting when it made a major acquisition of a popular fantasy app in May 2021.
Now, as sports betting legalization continues to sweep across the United States, the Chicago-based company is pursuing the convergence of fantasy sports and sports wagering, and CEO Reid Rooney is very bullish on its momentum.
In a recent interview with Gaming America, Rooney ticked off some of the key milestones in the company’s brief history. He noted its first major step was securing a seed round of $1.25m from Parlay Capital in January 2020. This was followed by a “seven-figure bridge raise” in October 2020.
In May 2021, Betsperts shouldered its way into the limelight when it acquired the Fantasy Life from Matthew Berry, ESPN’s senior fantasy analyst, with Berry becoming an equity owner as part of the agreement.
“I had been introduced to Matthew Berry, we saw synergies, and eventually we struck a deal,” Rooney recalled. “The social aspect is important to both fantasy sports and sports gambling. The Fantasy Life app is a social media platform. People use it to ask for advice, they complain about poor performances, or they brag about how good their picks were.”
In August 2021, Betsperts closed a $6m Series A fundraising round that included several new investors in the company, including HBSE Ventures and Verance Capital.
Just weeks later, the company announced it had closed on its acquisition of 4for4.com, a web-based sports betting and fantasy football research, analysis and information subscription service. Rooney said because 4for4.com offered analysis and tools for the purpose of enabling subscribers to improve in their betting and fantasy football endeavors, its purchase gave the company’s Fantasy Life app and Betsperts app customers an immediate increase in premium content.
In January 2022, Betsperts added Dynasty League Football, a premium fantasy football subscription service focused on content and tools for owners of dynasty teams.
According to Rooney, both the fantasy sports and sports gambling categories will grow “quite significantly” over the next four or five years.
“If you look at the past 18 months, the pace of growth has been faster than people expected,” Rooney said of fantasy and wagering. “This is partially due to the pandemic, and states needing revenue. We have not seen massive issues with problem gambling, which some state legislatures might have feared. We also have found out people were gambling anyway, just doing so illegally.”
In May 2021, Betsperts had five employees and one app. Ten months later, it had 40 employees across five countries with six properties, “so it has been a big nine months,” Rooney said with a laugh.
“We are in scale mode. There are lots of people knocking on our door looking for partnerships. We are getting as many users into our ecosystem as possible. We want as many fantasy players and sports bettors as possible, so we can have multiple touchpoints every day.”
To that end, the company soft launched its newest venture, Betsperts Golf, in March. Rooney said the management team saw an opportunity in the market to create quality daily fantasy golf and gambling content.
The plan is for the Betsperts team to provide tools on matchups and golf tournament simulators, all from what its users have been asking for.
Last year the properties under the Betsperts Group umbrella generated 10,118 written pieces, 981 streams and podcasts, its apps hosted 36 million sessions, and its sites had 4.3 million unique visitors.
“We will be expanding the team soon,” Rooney predicted. “Football moves the needle more than anything, even in the offseason. We want to make our traffic more year round, so we invested in golf as that is growing at a record clip. 2022 is going to be quite an incredible year for us.”
More markets expected to legalize
Asked what he sees ahead for sports betting, Rooney noted every state has its own laws and relationships, but the next dominoes to fall are expected to be Maryland, Ohio and Minnesota, with California putting multiple ballot propositions before voters in the November 2022 General Election.
“I think 2022 and ‘23 will be a sped up process for states we did not expect until 2025/26,” he asserted. “The numbers New York is putting up are incredible, Ontario [Canada] went live in April, and lots of people are watching what happens in Texas, Florida and California.” Watch this space.