GRID & GameCo: Building an esports betting product for all

Data platform GRID and Las Vegas-based gambling company GameCo recently officiated a partnership to bring esports betting products to casinos and sportsbooks.

Through this collaboration, GRID’s esports data and streaming solution will be integrated into GameCo’s Video Game Gambling Machines (VGM) offerings and partner casino destinations, both land-based and online.

For the North American gambling market, primarily deprived of the ability to wager on esports regularly, the partnership is able to provide an answer. Through the framework the two companies have created, casinos across the region will be able to offer esports markets for the first time on a consistent basis; adding an incredible solution for both physical and digital operators to monetise millennial and Generation X audiences.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has spared few industries. A deficiency of traditional sports has disrupted activity in the gambling industry and highlighted esports in an unavoidable way. The partnership between GRID and GameCo arrives at a time where operators and bettors are hungry for products, and the pair might have found an antidote.

With esports betting poised for a big surge, Esports Insider opted to speak with the parties responsible for seeing this partnership through to creation.

Image credit: GRID

The Nevada Gaming Control Board recently approved betting on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s ESL Pro League Season 11: North America and ESL Meisterschaft in three different wager types. Arguably a step towards seeing esports offerings in the region, yet undeniably underdeveloped in comparison to other countries around the world. North American regulatory guidelines position esports under a specific category which requires separate licenses and approval processes for each event. Administratively, it’s “an impossible task” according to Moritz Maurer, Founder and CEO of GRID.

“We are looking at trying to establish the landscape there,” he said. “Through our partnership we’ll tap into a new, big market – but there’s work to do. The way is not paved at all at the moment. We want to really work to bring our network to the table and [GameCo’s] to create synergies and establish the esports betting market for the U.S.”

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In GRID’s role, the company works tightly with esports organisations and tournament operators to extract often exclusive data in real-time. Not only does this offer another revenue stream for partners, but also allows GRID to generate trading tools and front-end widgets for data visualisations. An element of GRID’s core technology which will be leveraged in its partnership with GameCo.

Esports is not foreign territory for Blaine Graboyes, CEO of GameCo. After seeing his esports strategy and development company The Gamer Agency through to acquisition, Graboyes began focusing on bringing esports to casino floors. This included creation of the Video Game Gambling Machine, a proprietary, skill-based arcade cabinet built around well-known video games and casino economics. Still, Graboyes continued to envision “greater opportunities” within the category of video game gambling that dials-in on the company’s “player-centric strategy.” According to him, GRID’s relationships with leagues and tournament operators is “the backbone” of this partnership and its forthcoming products.

“GRID has built a unique and revolutionary platform capable of tackling data challenges in esports which is a fragmented space consisting of many different titles with strong underlying differences in genres, cultural and regional preferences, played across a wide array of different platforms,” said Graboyes. “GRID’s ability to overcome these challenges was a key factor for GameCo to get involved.”

A key advantage to this partnership lies within GameCo’s preexisting relationships within the North American betting panorama. A region in which the company is licensed in over 25 jurisdictions including Nevada and Ontario, GameCo plans on leveraging these connections as well as its master service agreements and sales relationships with casino operators and sportsbooks in North America to accelerate the entry of its products.

Moritz Maurer
Maurer at ESI London 2018. Photo credit: jakhowardphoto

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Even with this exciting partnership and the buzz around esports in the betting scape, Maurer believes there is still “an accessibility challenge to engage a broader audience” to overcome.

“[Operators] want to engage a broader spectrum of people with their games. Helping people to understand what’s going on and using data for that just makes sense.” Maurer explained. “I think there will be an educational phase with a new market opening and the new world of sports that is esports. So this is where we will engage a lot and explain it and turn it into products that they can understand and that their customers can understand.”

The pair is already bringing its concept to operators across the many commercial and tribal jurisdictions. While acknowledging the many regulatory regimes across North America and the large task at hand, Graboyes has “great confidence” in the collaborative effort’s ability to work with regulators and bring esports betting products to the region. The partnership will aim to activate in Q2 or Q3 of this year.

Graboyes concluded by saying: “We’re incredibly excited about our partnership with GRID to be the exclusive official partner for North America and bring a broader market of esports betting where it hasn’t been able to gain the traction that it has, particularly in Europe and Asia.”

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