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Micro-betting app Betr has become the first sports betting operator to ban the use of credit cards, the company announced Monday at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. In another effort to promote responsible online gambling, Betr will set deposit limits for users that are 21-25 years old.
By banning credit cards, Betr instead allows payment options such as pre-paid cards or debit cards to make deposits. The company, which was co-founded by entrepreneur Jake Levy and social media influencer-turned-boxing star Jake Paul, also announced that digital branded gift cards from Prizeout will be the exclusive winnings withdrawal option on Betr. Last month saw Betr launch its free-to-play gaming app nationwide, and its real-money betting app will debut in select states over the coming months. Users can bet on the outcomes of specific plays, such as every at-bat in an MLB game.
Levy co-founded Betr after previously co-founding micro sports betting software SimpleBet. Investors in Betr include current and former NFL players Ezekiel Elliott, Richard Sherman, Dez Bryant, DeSean Jackson and Braxton Berrios. Leagues to promote responsible gambling with the American Gaming Association include the NFL, MLB and NHL, PGA Tour and NASCAR.
Fans attending MLB postseason contests starting tonight can receive commemorative NFT tickets that will update with pertinent game photos within 24 hours of the event.
The NFTs or digital ticket stubs, produced by the league’s digital collectible partner Candy Digital, will also feature game details such as matchups, the venue and the starting time — a first for MLB.
In addition, fans who also bought MLB ICON Leadoff Series NFTs in April have the opportunity on October 21st to find eight randomly placed World Series digital tokens. Each of those World Series Token NFTs can be traded in for two tickets to this season’s actual World Series.
This year, Candy Digital appealed to the baseball audience by constantly updating player stats on its MLB ICON Leadoff Series NFTs. Its inaugural baseball NFT, on July 4th 2021, was a 1-of-1 token of Lou Gehrig delivering his “Luckiest Man” speech in 1939 following his diagnosis of ALS.
The company followed that up this season with a series of licensed NFTs commemorating the 40-year anniversary of Cal Ripken’s dynamic rookie season of 1982. Those NFTs featured archived video highlights from the ’82 season along with other footage narrated by Ripken himself.
In August, Candy Digital announced their latest college football NFT drop featuring 17 student-athletes, including Texas running back Bijan Robinson, Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa and Oregon QB Bo Nix.
FANtium, a platform that enables fans to invest in athletes through NFTs, has received $2 million in private pre-seed funding from a group that includes U.S. Open tennis champion Dominic Thiem and OneFootball founder Lucas von Cranach.
Founded by Jonathan Ludwig, an early investor in the fantasy soccer NFT company Sorare, FANtium is predicated on democratizing athlete financing via the blockchain. Athletes in individual sports such as tennis, golf and racing are able to sell shares of their future earnings in the form of NFTs — in some cases to help pay for travel and coaching — while purchasing fans benefit from the athlete’s real-time and future financial success, including sponsorships.
As well as earning a share of what the athlete makes, fans gain access to the player’s inner circle, as well as well as other perks. Young up-and-coming athletes are particularly incentivized by FANtium because — in exchange for their NFTs — they can earn the up-front money to assist in their rise and training.
FANtium expects to launch its initial athlete NFT drop in Q4 of 2022. Its latest investors include Sandbox COO and co-founder Sebastien Borget, Sorare’s growth leader Brian O’Hagan, Argent co-founder and CEO Itamar Lesuisse and Spatial co-founder Anand Agarawala. Thiem, the Australian tennis star and another investor, is known for his interest in technology, going back to the integration of Hawk-Eye Innovations’ automated line-calling on the pro tour.
Social media startup Pixstory has become title partner of this year’s Street Child World Cup, a youth soccer tournament taking place in Doha, Qatar ahead of the FIFA World Cup. The Street Child World Cup began Oct. 8 and runs through Oct. 15 with 28 participating teams from 24 countries consisting of disadvantaged boys and girls from around the world.
Street Child United is hosting this year’s tournament in partnership with the Qatar Foundation. It marks the fourth edition of the SCWC following youth tournaments in South Africa (2010), Brazil (2014), and Russia (2018). Pixstory, which partnered with Premier League soccer club Arsenal FC last month, is sponsoring the tournament to promote online safety for youth athletes through its social media app that’s focused on reducing hate speech and misinformation. FIFA announced in June that it was launching an AI service to detect abusive posts directed towards players on social media during the Qatar World Cup.
“The rampant rise of hate speech in football dialogues around the world is harmful to both athletes and spectators. Protecting young people from the effects of harmful content and prioritizing their right to online safety requires a behavioral change in social media,” Pixstory’s founder Appu Suresh said in a statement. “Healthy dialogue online should not be the exception in the social media world, but the norm.”
NBA center Dwight Howard is an ambassador for Pixstory, which also has deals with Italian soccer club Juventus and French club Paris Saint Germain Feminine. Pixstory launched in early 2021 and now claims to have 500,000 users. The platform deploys an AI system to detect hate speech and the visibility of its social feed is based on a post’s integrity score, which is ranked on the number of users choosing to “support” or “challenge” a post based on if they view the content to be ethical and factual.
Stats Perform has announced a strategic partnership with Veritone to create AI-powered audio commentary of sporting events. Users will have a choice of seven languages to hear highlights and match reports. 
The automated audio will draw on Stats Perform’s Opta event data for play-by-play and other match commentary. Veritone, whose aiWARE engine powers its audio-rendering capabilities, to media organizations, brands, teams and leagues, sportsbooks and other content creators. Among the obvious early use cases are to make sports coverage more accessible to those with visual impairments or reading disabilities, as well as to explain results outside of the host language.
OneFootball, the global media company, is identified as an interested partner for deploying this new technology. “We believe content that drives engagement and adds to our vertically integrated product will give our fans a reason to return to our app many times per day,” OneFootball chief business officer Patrick Fischer said in a statement. “Realistic and scalable audio content can play an important role in this strategy.”
This event data-fueled commentary will provide factual and straightforward recaps and summaries. Other AI initiatives to generate more human-like broadcast commentary are in R&D phases by IBM’s Watson, but development timelines are farther away.
Puttshack, a miniature tech-infused version of Topgolf, has received $150 million in growth capital funding led by the BlackRock investment management firm.
Founded by the creators of Topgolf — Steve and Dave Jolliffe of the UK — along with Adam Breeden of All Star Lanes and Fight Club, Puttshack’s golf balls contain its proprietary Trackaball technology: microchips that enable automated scoring, bonus point options and gamification. Topgolf similarly relies on ball-infused RFID chips to calculate shot speed, shot distance and other metrics.
The microchips are roughly the size of a lead pencil point and are embedded into the golf balls. At Puttshack’s three upscale venues in London, Atlanta and Chicago, participants are guided through games and activities by a tech-infused flatscreen. 
Puttshack is opening facilities in Miami, Boston and St. Louis later this year, and, in 2023, expects to expand to Dallas, Denver, Houston, Nashville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scottsdale and a second venue in Atlanta. With this latest funding, which was also supported by Promethean Investments, the company expects to add other cities, as well. 
The Jolliffe brothers originally opened Topgolf in London, circa 2000, for the sole purpose of adding real-time analytics to a driving range. The platform has since turned into a gamification and social gathering place, with an expected 81 locations by the end of 2022. Puttshack has miniature golf games such as “Beer Pong’’ with a similar goal of becoming an immersive social destination.
Metaverse platforms Decentraland and The Sandbox are currently quite lonely, according to data from crypto marketplace tracker DappRadar. Both virtual worlds see well under 1,000 daily active users, with Decentraland having 23 active users in the past 24 hours and The Sandbox having 616 daily active users as of this article’s writing. The activity data was originally reported by CoinDesk.
DappRadar considers “active users” to be those who visit The Sandbox or Decentraland and make NFT purchases with SAND or MANA, the respective crypto tokens in each Ethereum-based game, in which users buy virtual land, goods or clothes for their avatars. Simply logging onto the platforms without engaging in a transaction is not counted as an active user, according to DappRadar.
Decentraland labeled DappRadar’s data as “misinformation” but admitted it defines active users as those who browse its platform without making paid transactions. Decentraland creative director Sam Hamilton claims it has 8,000 users on average per day, according to CoinDesk.
In a recent study from marketing agency Momentum Worldwide, findings showed that 81% of sports fans would pay to watch a sporting event in the metaverse. DappRadar’s reporting of Decentraland and The Sandbox’s low daily active user numbers show that consumer education is still necessary as sports fans are familiar with the metaverse but there are still parts of it that people do not fully understand. That study found that just 38% of fans are familiar with an open world environment and 28% are familiar with blockchain, two key components to The Sandbox and Decentraland.
Both Decentraland and The Sandbox report having market cap valuations over $1 billion. Banking company HSBC said earlier this year that it was buying land in The Sandbox to engage with the game’s sports communities. Esports franchise FaZe Clan also has a presence in The Sandbox, as well as skateboarder Tony Hawk, former tennis star Ana Ivanovic and PSG soccer star Marco Verratti. This year’s Australian Open operated a digital stadium in Decentraland, while Miller Lite hosted a virtual bar activation during the Super Bowl. Mountain Dew and esports team NYXL are also in Decentraland.
The Buffalo Bills have signed a corporate sponsorship with Fieldsheer, a maker of temperature-controlled clothing such as jackets, shirts, pants, socks, and snow sports apparel. As the official heated and cooling apparel partner of the Bills, Fieldsheer will be branded on in-stadium videoboards during home games.
Fieldsheer’s apparel products are built with batteries and fabrics that apply heat and cooling effects through setting a user operates through Fieldsheer’s Bluetooth-connected mobile app. Fieldsheer and the Bills will offer co-branded merchandise for employees, gameday staff and customers, and offer branded merchandise as giveaway items throughout the Buffalo community.
The Bills will promote Fieldsheer on the team’s social media channels and website. The team will also host Fieldsheer announcements and fan prompts at Highmark Stadium during games.
Fusion Sport has changed its name to Smartabase, a rebrand predicated on the continued growth of its athlete management system by the same name.
Up until now, Smartabase was the title of Fusion Sport’s emerging performance and analytics platform that uses data to track and maximize human performance for national sporting federations, Olympic committees and sports teams. As Smartabase began to be utilized for military research — as well as in public safety and health care fields — Fusion Sport’s co-founder and CEO Dr. Markus Deutsch made the decision to streamline to the singular name of Smartabase.
Founded in 2003 out of Brisbane, Australia with current offices in London and Colorado, Smartabase anticipates a 100% increase in annual recurring revenue this year. Some of its past investors include the Australian NBA player Matthew Dellavedova and Sydney-based Equity Venture Partners, who were part of a $5.5 million investment round in 2020.
Some of the company’s newer applications include its release in May of the Human Performance Optimization Tech Stack, a market report of performance technologies that included dividing more than 300 tech training products into categories.
In January of 2021, the Smartabase platform was adopted by the UFC Performance Institute, allowing MMA fighters to access and view their own data through the Smartabase Athlete App. The UFC Performance Institute also used the system to aggregate data from a myriad of training technologies, as well as create custom reports and monitoring tools.
Tempus Ex Machina, the real-time sports data and video company, has hired two former Amazon executives to join its team. 
Felicia Yue, who led sports product for Prime Video, joins Tempus Ex as VP of product. Dustin Encelewski, who oversaw live video for Amazon, becomes the startup’s head of audio/video products. Tempus Ex has a multi-year partnership with the NFL and, earlier this year, began working with the Pac-12 and the San Francisco 49ers.
Before her seven years at Amazon, Yue was the only female technical crew member on Monday Night Football broadcasts and helped develop the 1st & Ten yellow line on the field. She has also worked on products for MLB, NBA, UEFA and the Olympics. Encelewski has experience with cloud-based video processing company Elemental Technologies as well as Comscore before his time at Amazon Web Services.
Mercury, the digital fan engagement platform focused on collegiate athletics, has launched, a custom site that will provide inside access to Clemson sports teams along with digital collectibles.
As part of the three-year partnership, will post team updates, stage chat forums and host virtual fan interactions with athletes—many of whom are expected to eventually obtain NIL deals with the company. Users can become VIPs by signing up for a 2022-2023 Tigers Membership pass, which unlocks full on-line access to contests and a chance to accumulate redeemable Tiger Points. The first 100 fans to register gain their membership pass free.
“This is something real that the university is endorsing —this is a real Clemson platform,’’ Mercury’s CEO and co-founder Porter Grieve told SportTechie on Friday. “Because at the end of the day, fans want to get closer to the athletes.’’
Clemson and Mercury are also collaborating on NFTs that pertain to school’s athletic culture. In a matter of weeks, will drop “Tombstone’’ digital collectibles reflective of the school’s custom of holding grave ceremonies for the ranked teams they have defeated on the road over the years, including the 2014 Orange Bowl win over Ohio State.
“At Clemson when the football team beats I believe top 25 opponent away from home, they essentially take that team and put them in the ground,’’ Grieve said. “And they have a graveyard on campus with all these tombstones against Alabama and South Carolina [and 22 others]. It’s this incredibly fascinating unique thing that only Clemson does.
“So we’re doing a drop where we’ve digitized and reimagined the tombstones as digital collectibles, NFTs. And we’re doing a super limited drop, only 32 of them and the lucky fans who are there early and get one will get rewarded with amazing experiences year after year. So this year, they’re doing this awesome one where they get to go to campus and run down the hill and kick a field goal and get a tour of the facilities, and we’ll also reward them with memorabilia.’’
Mercury, which debuted in 2021, has similar brand partnerships with Kansas (, Kentucky ( and Central Florida ( In the coming weeks, they will launch similar platforms for Oklahoma and Villanova, all with an eye on customization.
“At Kansas, we took the James Naismith Court at Phog Allen Fieldhouse, and we chopped it into 100 pieces digitally and sold it in drops of five,’’ Grieve says. “And each one sold out in under three minutes. People can say, ‘I’m one of 80-to 100 holders of this piece of court.’ And we’re excited to redo that for the football field and at other school’s courts to have them compete to see has the most valuable court. Such as at [Kentucky’s] Rupp Arena.’’
As many as 85 student-athletes from the four affiliated schools have already signed NIL with Mercury. Former Penn State All-American football player Adam Breneman is Mercury’s VP of NIL and Media and will be hosting long-form interviews with many of the schools’ players, such as Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels and UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee.
Grieve said the company’s goal is to not solely emphasize NFTs, but to customize virtual fan engagement for each campus community.
“Clemson is different from Kansas, which is different from Kentucky and UCF,’’ Grieve said. “So each requires sort of a tailored approach.’’


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