Sharp Alpha Forms $10 Million Sports Betting Fund

By Joe Lemire

Sharp Alpha Advisors recently launched an oversubscribed $10 million venture capital fund that will invest in early stage companies developing technology for the sports betting industry.

Sharp Alpha Fund I has already taken stakes in 12 startups, with an average investment of $250,000 for seed and Series A rounds. Among the dozen companies in its portfolio are Players’ Lounge, GridRival, SharpSports, Prophet and PickUp.

“Not only is the sports betting industry at an inflection point, but market leaders are choosing to buy rather than build at every turn,” Sharp Alpha managing partner Lloyd Danzig said in a statement. “With M&A serving as the primary mechanism through which market leaders achieve differentiation and vertical integration, it is a great time to underwrite next-gen infrastructure.”

The advisory board for the New York City-based Sharp Alpha includes Keith Horn, the former global head of leveraged finance at Merrill Lynch; Emanuel Pearlman, the former chairman of Empire Resorts; Adam Davis, the former chief commercial officer at Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment; and Don Kornstein, the vice chairman of Caesars Entertainment.

NBC Sports Next Buys RevTechPlus to Help Golf Courses Boost Revenue

By Andrew Cohen

NBC Sports Next, the technology subdivision of NBC Sports, has acquired golf revenue management company RevTechPlus. The company’s revenue management and marketing tools are used by more than 90 golf clubs in the U.S.

RevTechPlus has an algorithm that digests factors such as weather and historical tee-time demand to suggest pricing for golf courses to maximize revenue. The company also offers email marketing, social media and website services. 

NBC Sports Next was formed in August and owns other golf technology services such as online tee booking app GolfNow and video-based golf training platform GolfPass — which was developed in partnership with Rory Mcllroy.

“GolfNow offers services that we were unable to provide to our clients, and I see great value in the ability to include these tools and services as part of our package,” RevTechPlus CEO Tom Barnhart said in a statement. “We also look forward to integrating into the NBC Sports Next team to help shape the future of how golf courses manage tee times to maximize their revenue.”

Sportradar Enhances Betting Ad Offerings With Adomni

By Dominic Massimino

Sportradar has partnered with advertising software Adomni to give sports betting companies, teams and leagues the ability to integrate live stats and betting odds into their advertising campaigns. 

Adomni’s software allows clients to turn ads on or off based on game schedule, incorporate betting odds into live content and follow audience patterns to target specific consumers. WynnBet — one of about the 900 global betting operators that partner with Sportradar for data — has been an early adopter of Adomni. 

“The ability to incorporate the odds that Sportradar is providing to WynnBet in our social ad channels and programmatic display ads as well as our out of home creative, gives us a nice mix of high-level branding and call-to-action performance which makes the creative more relevant. This is a game-changer,” WynnBet’s head of paid media Kris Cichoski said in a statement.

The partnership comes a month after Sportradar made its public debut on the Nasdaq. The NHL, NBA and MLB are among the top leagues to have data distribution deals with Sportradar, whose notable investors include sports team executives Michael Jordan, Mark Cuban and Ted Leonsis.

InnoVero, Drug Testing Partner of MLB and USADA, Becomes Sole Distributor of Tasso Blood Collection Devices

By Andrew Cohen

InnoVero, makers of a protective kit to collect drug testing samples for MLB and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, has signed a multi-year partnership to become the exclusive worldwide distributor of Tasso blood collection devices. The companies now aim to partner with anti-doping agencies around the world.  

USADA upgraded its anti-doping equipment with InnoVero after Russia was found to have tampered with doping sample bottles at the 2014 Winter Olympics. InnoVero’s bottles contain a proprietary locking mechanism to store blood and urine samples, which MLB also adopted shortly after the Russian doping scandal. 

InnoVero will now exclusively distribute Tasso, a pocket-sized device that an athlete can attach to their shoulder to prick a dried blood sample from the skin. The relatively painless device helped USADA launch its virtual drug-testing program at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which U.S. Olympic athletes used Tasso to collect and send blood samples from their homes.

“The InnoVero-Tasso partnership signals a breakthrough opportunity in sample collection procedures, while keeping athlete needs at the forefront in minimizing the invasiveness,” InnoVero executive director Gabe Baida said in a statement.

Perfect Game Will Expand Tech-Infused Batting Cage to 140+ Baseball Recruitment Events

By Joe Lemire

Amateur baseball showcase company Perfect Game and K-Motion, makers of a popular biomechanics sensor vest, announced the wide availability of their tech-laden batting cage at more than 140 upcoming PG events in 2022. 

The PG Tech cage offers a full suite of player evaluation tools. The K-Motion vest assesses motion in 3D and, in particular, a hitter’s kinematic sequence—the order in which his body segments generate force. Edgertronic high-speed cameras capture movement in rich visual detail. Pocket Radars will calculate ball speed. TrackMan radars will provide ball tracking data, such as exit velocity and launch angle. Diamond Kinetics bat sensors are used to evaluate swing path and speed.

The widespread release of PG Tech follows a beta trial of 4,000 players that began in early 2021. Data collected from the cage is uploaded to a player’s profile for review by pro scouts, college coaches and the player himself to use as a guide for improvement. Perfect Game considers itself the foremost scouting organization in baseball, claiming a cumulative 1,647 Major League players and 13,325 MLB draft picks have attended their showcases and tournaments.

“PG Tech sits at the intersection of old-school and new-school methods of coaching and scouting,” former MLB general manager Bill Bavasi said in a statement. “What we see with our eyes is confirmed through PG Tech data analysis, which also picks up what our eyes do not see or are not capable of seeing.”

Coinbase has signed a multi-year deal to become the exclusive cryptocurrency platform partner of the NBA, WNBA, NBA G League, NBA 2K League and USA Basketball. Coinbase is the first crypto company to sign with the NBA.

Coinbase’s brand will appear during nationally-televised NBA broadcasts, starting with tonight’s tip-off games on TNT. The company has also been named presenting partner of the WNBA Commissioner’s Cup and USA Basketball men’s and women’s exhibition tours, as well as with the G League Ignite — a team that consists mostly of top high school basketball recruits. 

“As a trusted cryptocurrency platform used by millions, Coinbase is a natural fit as the NBA’s first-ever partner in this thriving category,” Kerry Tatlock, the NBA’s SVP of global marketing partnerships and media, said in a statement.  “We look forward to collaborating with Coinbase to provide fans with new ways to engage with the league and each other, while also enhancing the experience for fans who are already Coinbase users.”

Coinbase, which lets users buy and sell cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin, was founded in 2012 and went public on the Nasdaq in April. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Coinbase has asked Congress to create a new regulator to oversee crypto assets in the U.S., rather than handing that responsibility to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

While Coinbase is the NBA’s first cryptocurrency sponsor, several teams have already partnered with crypto firms. Cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which also sponsors MLB, bought naming rights to the Miami Heat’s arena in April. Crypto rewards app StockX is the jersey patch partner of the Portland Trail Blazers, while the Philadelphia 76ers made their jersey patch sponsor last month.

New Jersey Bettors Exceed $1 Billion in Sports Wagers in September, Breaking Their Own One-Month Record

By Andrew Cohen

Bettors in New Jersey placed $1.1 billion in sports wagers in September, making New Jersey the first U.S. state to see $1 billion bet on sports in a single month. 

The record-breaking month included $918.4 million wagered via online sportsbooks — 90.8% of the state’s total sports betting. FanDuel was New Jersey’s leading online sportsbook for September, while PointsBet had the second-biggest market share in the state, according to  

“As impressive as September was, New Jersey’s sports betting market hasn’t yet reached its ceiling. The NBA and college basketball seasons could really send wagering into another stratosphere in the coming months,” Eric Ramsey, an analyst for, said in a statement. 

The previous single-month sports betting record for a U.S. state was $996.3 million, also set by New Jersey in Dec. 2020. Last month saw $400.8 million bet in New Jersey on NFL and college football alone — dwarfing the $185.2 million bet on baseball.

Garden State sports betting operators generated $82.4 million in revenue last month, nearly double the $45.1 million made by operators in Sept. 2020. Sports bettors produced $12.1 million in state and local taxes for NJ last month. 

SeventySix Capital Invests in Three Startups Spanning AR, NFTs and Sports Betting

By Dominic Massimino

Sports technology investment firm SeventySix Capital has announced it will fund augmented reality developer Quintar, marketing company NFT Pro and sports betting social network app Lucra Sports. 

Quintar partnered with the PGA Tour in August to launch an augmented reality app that lets fans view ShotLink data and 3D graphics during tournaments at certain PGA Tour courses. NFT PRO creates marketing campaigns for brands executing NFT activations and has worked with Italian soccer club Juventus and Lamborghini.

Lucra Sports is a social betting app that lets users create betting props to send to their friends. For example, a user can wager $10 on Tom Brady to throw more touchdowns than Patrick Mahomes, and choose how much the bet would pay out. The terms of the bet are then sent to their friend to be accepted or declined. 

SeventySix Capital has previously invested in startups such as ShotTracker, Swish Analytics and U.S. Integrity. Last month, SeventySix Capital launched its second fund that’s aiming to secure at least $50 million in investments. The fund’s investors include Pittsburgh Pirates owner Robert Nutting, Arthur Blank’s AMBSE Ventures and Buffalo Bills wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

DraftKings NFT Marketplace Partners With Blockchain Developer Polygon

By Andrew Cohen

DraftKings has signed a strategic partnership with Polygon, an infrastructure developer for the Ethereum blockchain. Polygon’s network will expand the blockchain capabilities of DraftKings Marketplace, the digital collectibles site that launched in partnership with Tom Brady’s NFT platform Autograph in August.

“Scalability and sustainability remain among the critical challenges of blockchain technology, so as we lay the groundwork today for the vision of DraftKings Marketplace tomorrow, the vast insights and proven products from Polygon around scalable solutions are invaluable,” DraftKings co-founder Paul Liberman said in a statement. 

DraftKings now has the option to become a validator for the Polygon blockchain, which would let DraftKings create blocks and provide infrastructure security for Polygon. The deal also aligns DraftKings with Polygon Studios, which has helped create blockchain-backed games such as Zed Run virtual horse racing. 

DraftKings Marketplace has enabled users to buy and sell NFTs of star athletes partnered with Brady’s Autograph platform, such as Derek Jeter, Wayne Gretzky, Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles. DraftKings plans to eventually let its collectors transfer NFTs to their own digital wallets on Ethereum Mainnet.

Spalding Releases Easy-to-Install Basketball Hoop, Claims Assembly Is 30 Minutes or Less

By Joe Lemire

Spalding has designed a new basketball hoop it says can be assembled in 30 minutes or less rather than three-to-five hours, like most portable baskets. The company also introduced an augmented reality feature that enables prospective buyers to visualize what the hoop will look like in your driveway prior to purchase.

Spalding’s new Momentous EZ Assembly hoop is manufactured to be more pre-assembled than prior models. Much of the unit can simply be unfolded and placed upright for use. The hope is to make the product—and the sport—more accessible. Premium versions of the Momentous also include the first clear glass backboard for portable baskets. The rim height can be adjusted from 8-feet-to-10-feet and comes with a breakaway rim.

“The basketball hoop assembly process needed to be easier and more enjoyable – that was made clear to us through analyzing reviews throughout the category and from focus groups of athletes, parents and coaches,” Spalding global marketing manager Ben Simms said in a statement. “Our challenge was creating a mostly pre-assembled hoop, without increasing price or packaging size, or losing quality/stability, in an effort to produce a fast-to-assemble product.”

Fresno State’s Cavinder Twins Sponsor Sleeper, First College Athletes to Endorse Fantasy Sports

By Andrew Cohen

Fresno State basketball players Hanna and Haley Cavinder have reached marketing deals with fantasy sports app Sleeper. The twin sisters are the first college athletes to have a paid sponsorship with a fantasy sports brand.

The Cavinder twins will join their friends and family in an NBA fantasy league on Sleeper and will post updates on their fantasy teams to their social media accounts throughout the NBA season.

As sophomores during the 2020-21 season, Haley was named Mountain West Player of the Year, while Hanna made the All-Mountain West Team. Their large social media followings have helped the duo land other NIL deals with brands such as Boost Mobile, Six Star Pro Nutrition and PSD Underwear. 

Sleeper’s fantasy sports platform has more than three million users. The company raised $40 million last month with investors such as NBA stars Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.