Underdog Fantasy on Monday pledged it would invest $1 million as well as other resources toward a new fund it said would help emerging companies develop solutions to promote responsible gaming practices and reduce harm from gambling.
The initiative, named GuardDog, is focused on finding new businesses to help operators in the various real-money gaming sectors, including fantasy sports and legal online sports betting, to make their games and products safer for bettors.
“With GuardDog, we intend to spur innovation to help companies that help people play the games they love — including all our games on Underdog — responsibly,” said Jeremy Levine, founder and co-CEO of Underdog. “We know there are tons of dreamers, entrepreneurs and builders out there that can help build a stronger, more responsible ecosystem for all. We want to help those innovating in responsibility by providing capital, mentorship and valuable connections.”
Those available to help the startup companies include responsible gaming consultant Brianne Doura-Schawohl, former FanDuel Vice President of Responsible Gaming Adam Warrington, Acies Investments Partner Chris Grove, former Colorado Division of Gaming Director Dan Hartman and ex-Indiana Gaming Commission Executive Director Sara Tait.
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Responsible Gaming Hub Envisioned
In an interview Friday with USBettingReport.com, Levine recalled his participation in Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley-based startup accelerator he was involved with more than a decade ago. The accelerator built a “connective thread of startups” that reached across different sectors and developed into a network of entrepreneurs willing to help each other. Levine would like to replicate that for U.S. mobile sports betting and the rest of the gaming industry.
“As we looked around to say, ‘Hey, what can we be doing better and responsible gaming?’ we saw a pretty disparate universe, with companies trying different things,” he said. “We thought if we create this central hub and are able to help accelerate companies and kind of cross-pollinate, it will lead to a better outcome. It will lead to more innovation. It will lead to better companies in the space and then better offerings that the entire industry can offer to the customers.”
What exactly these companies may offer or develop is unknown for now, but Levine said he knows of companies using new technologies — including artificial intelligence — to identify potentially problematic behavior when using U.S. betting sites.
“It’s kind of a wide-open universe, and what we are intending to do here is to create that central point where if you’re working on something that you think can help players play responsibly, operators operate responsibly, you’re going to want to be part of this. You’re going to be in touch, and we’ll see what comes and be able to help accelerate it.”
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Underdog To Partner With ProhiBet
GuardDog is the latest announcement by the Brooklyn-based gaming company to address responsible gaming issues. Late last month, Underdog announced a partnership with ProhiBet. Under the arrangement, Underdog will implement the technology to ensure certain individuals — such as athletes, coaches and athletic staff — do not participate in Underdog Fantasy contests they are not allowed to play.
“Responsible play is always at the forefront of our business,” said Matt Garrigan, Underdog’s senior director of operations. “This solution allows us to operate in a more efficient manner while safeguarding our current and future customers. This is historically a gap across the industry as this tends to be done in a less automated, and therefore less comprehensive, manner. We look forward to changing that.”
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Steve is an accomplished, award-winning communicator with over 20 years of experience in journalism, public relations/public affairs, marketing, and business development. He currently covers a diverse set of beats for several publications focusing on legislation, litigation, government regulation, and oversight. This includes commercial and tribal gaming, commercial fishing, and state and local government reporting.