eSports-only betting company Blinkpool – which recently launched its BlinkPredict in-game product – has received $700,000 of funding from gambling industry seed investor Velo Partners in order to help fund it aim to get a UK gambling licence. GamCrowd spoke to Velo’s Andrew Reader to see what the investors are hoping for from BlinkPool and to talk about the coming opportunity in eSports.
GamCrowd: What do you see as the opportunity with BlinkPool - what got you interested in their proposition?
Andrew Reader: Suraj Gosai and Jordan Doubglas are one of the strongest founding teams we have come across in the eSports betting genre. eSports is a space we have been watching for some time and so when Blinkpool came to us out of Entrepreneur First (a pre-seed programme which is designed to allow technology engineers build tech companies from scratch) with a product we had not seen before we thought the combination was highly compelling. Their ability to combine a deep understanding of the industry with cutting-edge AI and computer vision technology is also unique.
GamCrowd: What do you see as the opportunity with eSport betting generally?
Andrew Reader: The market is still very much in its infancy and we have seen the early skin-betting operators make headlines for all the wrong reasons. We are bullish generally given the macro tailwinds boosting eSports adoption and we have seen the fanbase are extremely engaged. Combine that with the variety of game formats and in-play game characteristics we see in the eSports market today, it is logical to us that attractive betting markets will follow. However, the scale of the opportunity is still somewhat unknown. As suppliers improve their product offering, especially in-play and more regulation and game integrity bodies establish industry norms eSports will become an increasingly important market for operators.
GamCrowd: Do you think eSports-only is the best way forward for operators? Do they have more of an advantage?
Andrew Reader: eSports only is the natural way for start-ups to enter the space. I think the winners in eSports betting will emerge as eSports ‘first’ with complementary additional products.
GamCrowd: How do you think the nascent nature of the eSports market generally is affecting the prospects for betting operators?
Andrew Reader: We have seen different approaches by operators to eSports; clearly Pinnacle and Betway being two notable early adopters, with many more entering the market in the latter half of 2016. We see that continuing into 2017, albeit some of the hype surrounding the market opportunity has tempered. We certainly see betting operators benefitting in the long term as this new market matures and establishes itself as a meaningful vertical.
GamCrowd: On Velo Partners, what other gambling investments have you made in the past year?
Andrew Reader: We tend to be very active, in the last year we invested in Blinkpool as you have seen; we also invested in Stratagem, Suprnation and Just For The Win. In addition we launched an early-stage gaming accelerator called RNG Foundry.
GamCrowd: What other areas of gambling do you find exciting right now?
Andrew Reader: It’s early stages for the technology, but we certainly see the disruptive potential of AI in the sector.