Business Correspondent Mark McGuinness caught up with EiG 2014 Pitch Winner Levbet.net CEO and co-founder Jacob List for an update on developing sports betting in the image of financial market trading, especially Leveraged sports betting.
Jake List is the founder of LevBet, a startup platform for trading sports betting odds with leveraged financial products. Trained in equal parts across betting, finance, and law, his passion lies in developing markets for odds trading to rival financial markets. Outside of LevBet, he uses most of his education to analyze the performances and commercial contracts of his favourite basketball players.
MM: Jake congratulations on winning this years’ EiG pitch. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what it means to win the pitch?
Jacob: Thanks Mark. Well I’m Australian, educated in finance by university and in gambling by culture. With both sectors sitting front and centre in my daily life it seemed more and more natural to combine them. Taking leveraged financial products, such as futures and options, and applying them to the much more entertaining past time of sports betting is what I see as combing the best of both worlds.
We also looked at how the sports betting industry is maturing and where we could add value. Betfair processes more transactions per day than every European stock exchange combined and the number of transactions per day has increased from around 5million to 30 million over the last 4 years. Add to this increasingly available and cheaper sports data, and the development of better, faster, more accessible, more user friendly analytical tools, and we see that the opportunity to trade odds like we trade stocks is becoming highly alluring.
So we presented this and we were excited to win the pitch at EIG because it is a big step in gaining industry validation. Sports betting is not exactly an outside the box thinking sector, so achieving positive recognition of new concepts by our peers gives us a lot of momentum going forward.
MM: You spoke about sports betting needing to evolve through financial market driven concepts such as leveraged betting. Can you explain more?
Jacob: Sure. Betting on companies is like the big brother of betting on sports. The fundamentals behind both industries are the same, but sports betting is much younger. Financial markets have evolved to facilitate enormous transactions very efficiently, and this is not only through technology but also through product design. Leveraged products like futures allow you to move large quantities of money by only locking down temporary collateral. So we can do things like purchase 100 million pounds of oil with just 1 million pounds of collateral. Maybe we should be able to bet 1000 pounds on Chelsea to win the EPL with only 100 pounds of collateral, or place a stake on a favourite in a horse race the same way.
We believe these kinds of products can explosively increase the size of sports betting markets, just as they have done for financial markets- and this is great for both users and operators.
MM: What’s next for Levbet as a business?
Jacob: We have just started a fundraising drive and will continue to develop our platform in the public eye, looking for feedback of all kinds so that we build a user tailored experience as much as possible.
Continuing to target and listen to our early adopters is very important. We are already appealing to the growing number of sophisticated traders and a younger financially educated demographic, who love the idea of improving their betting strategies with leverage- that is wagering more money than they actually have. Our products are simple to use, allow you to tailor your risk tolerance efficiently, and let you magnify your edge by up to 10x.
As part of winning the pitch competition, we are looking forward to presenting our vision at ICE in February. There will be a huge amount of news to update interested parties about what we are doing with leveraged betting products and how we see the industry continuing to evolve.
MM: Anything else you wish to mention?
Jacob: Of course, a plug! We are currently running our first public beta testing competition at levbet.net. It finishes November 30 and you can win a small chunk of equity in LevBet for your time just by doing some leveraged betting. Sign up today, send us some feedback to let us know what you want, and enjoy.
Jacob List – CEO & Founder Levbet