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Volume 27 No. 10
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Gambling Tech Service SimpleBet Launches With Prominent Investors

SimpleBet, a machine learning-based, automated service that promises to allow sportsbooks to set reliable odds for in-play betting, launches in the U.S. today and is backed by a well-known roster of investors. Manhattan-based SimpleBet originally expected to go to market with an MLB odds product in March, but was derailed by the shutdown of sports. It uses algorithms to set odds for specific moments within a game -- like the outcome of an individual pitch in baseball or a play in football -- offering odds that can change by the second.

FIGURED IT OUT: Most leading U.S. sportsbooks already offer in-play betting, but the unpredictable nature of the outcome of an individual play means bettors often are shut out before they can place a wager, or have to make a choice before they know the specifics of a situation. Sportsbooks are working to develop algorithms that allow them to react quickly enough to confidently set odds and offer bets for longer periods, something that SimpleBet Co-Founder & CEO Chris Bevilacqua said his company has mastered. "Everybody is trying to do that, but having just gone through this for the last two years, it’s not easy," said Bevilacqua, who before launching SimpleBet co-founded the sports media advisory and investment firm Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures. "It's very complicated. It costs a lot of money. And it takes a long time. I think that's the gap that we’re filling. We made the investment and we’ve got something that's really unique."

HIGH-PROFILE INVESTORS: SimpleBet has raised more than $35M from investors, including Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment co-owner David Blitzer, Whitecaps co-Owner & Exec Chair Jeff Mallett, former Coyotes co-Owner Steve Ellman, former Turner Sports President David Levy, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and the MLB Giants. The company closed a series B round of $11M in March, only a week before COVID-19 shut down U.S. sports. SimpleBet laid off 18, including two co-founders, in April, hoping to slow a burn rate that led to a similarly-sized round of layoffs in January. "The term I've been using with our investors and employees is Jim Valvano's survive and advance," Bevilacqua said. "We spent the last six months in hand-to-hand combat. Survive and advance. Build the product. Make it better. Just keep grinding. ... We just have to hang around long enough to have sports come back."