Basketball legend Michael Jordan, Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban have all invested in sports betting data provider Sportradar AG and will sit on the firm’s new U.S. board.
The big names can only help the growth of sports betting across the United States.
The Swiss firm counts more than 450 bookmakers and 30 state lotteries among its clients and has established itself as a world leader in the industry.
A new investment round in Sportradar AG totals $44m and is led by Revolution Growth, a private equity firm founded by Leonsis, who also owns NHL’s Washington Capitals.
Tech billionaire Cuban and Jordan, who owns the Charlotte Hornets, are also investing and will join Leonsis among the firm’s front men in the U.S., a market it moved into in 2013.
Other big coups for Sportradar
In that short time Sportradar has already struck exclusive deals with the NFL, NASCAR and the NHL and established itself as one of the country’s fastest growing sports data providers for various media companies.
But what is more interesting to these investors is Sportsradar’s expertise in the gambling arena. It offers constantly updated, in-play data on more than 3,000 sporting fixtures around the globe each day – data that is utilized by hundreds of leading bookmakers – while it has also moved into the virtual sports wagering arena with a virtual basketball offering.
Leonsis told Bloomberg that sports wagering is “probably an inevitability” across the U.S. due to the amount of money it could contribute to the economy and the amount of tax revenue it could create. He said that Sportradar’s “experience is going to translate and augur well here because we’re years behind” the established European markets the firm operates in.
Sportsbook Review interviewed New Jersey State Senator Raymond Lesniak on his state's hope to bring legal sports betting to Atlantic City before March Madness 2016.
Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act
Sports betting is illegal in 46 states and Sportradar, from its base in Minnesota, has built up its core U.S. business away from wagering, striking partnerships with companies like Google, Yahoo and Facebook to offer player stats and live coverage of ball games.
It has also struck a deal to provide data for daily fantasy sports provider FanDuel, which is under scrutiny from authorities that see it as gambling and want to clamp down on it.
But it has the experience and the acumen in the gambling market and is poised and ready to go if sports betting is legalized across the U.S..
Ulrich Harmuth, Sportsradar’s U.S. president, said: “If the U.S. market opens up for gaming we are ready to shoot. We have the products readily available. We’re in the perfect position to also serve customers in the U.S. gaming market.”
The presence of sporting heavyweights Jordan, Leonsis and Cuban would certainly help lobbying efforts. The NFL has opposed sports betting, but the NBA is broadly in favour of it.
NBA Commissioner in Favor of Legal Sports Betting
Former NBA Commissioner David Stern recently threw his weight behind calls for sports betting to be legalized across the U.S.
He backed the arguments of his successor, Adam Silver, who is in favour of legalizing sports betting.
“I’m with Commissioner Silver,” Stern told a forum in New York. “There should be federal legislation that says let’s go all the way and have betting on sports. It’s OK. It’s going to be properly regulated.”
Stern believes it should be regulated by federal law, rather than on a state-by-state basis, and that would suit the likes of Sportsradar down to the ground.