Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian is venturing into sports betting with the startup Wagr. The app intends to combine social media with wagering in an entirely reimagined way.
Tennessee could become one of the first markets to test out the new platform.
Reddit co-founder puts his money on Wagr
Ohanian founded Wagr back in April 2020 – just as the COVID-19 pandemic was setting in and society began searching for new ways to stay socially connected. In turn, the platform introduced a new sportsbook model to players, allowing them to wager on sports with friends instead of against the house.
The project already has some major backers on its side. Ohanian is leading a $4 million seed-funding round sponsored by Greycroft, Pear Ventures, Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen, and former Saks Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Brad Martin. Ohanian’s own investment comes through his firm Seven Seven Six. Moreover, Wagr’s current advisor is none other than former Caesars Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman.
Ultimately, the brand is looking to stake a claim in the industry’s ever-growing market share, currently dominated by DraftKings Tennessee, FanDuel Tennessee and BetMGM Tennessee. The latter has consistently dominated Tennessee’s market share for the past six months.
Wagr merges sports betting with social media
Upon launch, Wagr will offer wagering on all major sports. The company will focus on point spread wagers in the beginning, though it intends to expand to moneylines and prop betting in the future.
Mario Malave, Wagr’s founder and CEO, said:
“Our app really strips down the betting experience to the bare essentials—we’re launching with point-spread bets only. From a user’s perspective, all you have to do is pick a team, decide who you want to bet against, and select how much you want to wager.”
Bettors will be able to wager on either side of a point spread with a friend, family member, or acquaintance. If a player can’t locate someone willing to take a bet, Wagr will attempt to match the bettor with another interested bettor within the state.
This type of platform caters to bettors who aren’t necessarily using a legal or offshore sportsbook to wager. Rather, these are the types of bettors who are already making casual wagers between friends and coworkers on the weekends.
“It’s about productizing what already goes down in everyone’s group chat, which is wagers between friends about sporting outcomes. Right now the way these get resolved is through a Cash App payment or a Venmo payment on Monday, and surely we can do better.”
Wagr plans to charge users a fee for providing wagering, payment and social comradery all within a single platform. This fee would be similar to the traditional ones charged by sportsbooks and casinos.
The company’s goal is to introduce a social platform that makes betting especially simple to understand and that sets the casual bettor up for success. Even the weekend sports fan placing a bet for the first time should have no problem navigating this app.
A simple sports betting app
Wagr intends to make its app so easy to use that anyone can do it. However, there is an important caveat to that. Not everyone is allowed to do it. Sports betting can be an addictive form of entertainment. Thus, anyone under the age of 21 is expressly prohibited from wagering.
Operators must be especially diligent about upholding appropriate standards because of this. Fortunately, responsible gaming exists at the crux of Wagr’s framework. The company is already implementing precautionary measures and plans to enhance player safety by enforcing a $500 limit on single wagers.
Ohanian said the company’s goal is to keep player safety at the center of focus. He said,
“Ultimately, it’s to create a healthier approach to gambling. It’s frankly the perfect time for a business like Wagr to come in and want to build something that really disrupts the way that sports betting has traditionally been done.”
The company has already submitted license applications in Tennessee and Virginia – both of which are still pending.
Tennessee’s stance on Peer To Peer sportsbooks
This won’t be the first time Tennessee entertains the idea of adding a unique operator to its catalog of sportsbooks. Tennessee’s regulatory body has already considered one company with a distinct wagering model.
California-based Peer-To-Peer startup ZenSports applied for an operator license back in November 2020. The company was prepared to go live with a traditional sports betting platform if its P2P model was denied. Council members remained hesitant, requesting more time for research before signing off. Still, neither format has been approved.
Whether or not Wagr will face the same lengthy approval process remains in question. Regardless, one thing is certain – this operator has an arduous review ahead.