With the meteoric expansion of sports betting in the United States, differentiating a sports betting product is arguably the biggest current challenge an operator faces when entering markets, state by state.
To that end, Mario Malavé and Wagr are well ahead of the Tennessee curve.
Wagr is one of nine sportsbooks currently operating in the voluntary state, but the only one that is peer-driven. Wagr doesn’t so much serve as a standard book, but as a connector for two friends who want to bet on an event – a social bookie, if you will. It takes 5% of the bet placed as a transaction fee, compared to the usual 10% that other sportsbooks charge for using their betting lines.
Wagr is set to get a huge boost this weekend as the official betting partner of Nashville SC, which will open its new soccer-dedicated GEODIS Park stadium on Sunday. City quickly turned to the third-year MLS club, after turning Nissan Stadium into a raucous atmosphere that helped Nashville SC go unbeaten at home in the regular season in 2021, with eight wins and nine draws.
The club opened this season with eight matches on the road, claiming 11 points from those competitions, while the finishing touches for the 30,000-seater stadium – the largest dedicated football venue in the United States and Canada – were provided. . Nashville SC also recently added actress Reese Witherspoon and Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry to its ownership group ahead of the season opener against the Philadelphia Union. Wagr will be at the center of the opening festivities, offering two activation areas for those interested in placing bets.
“The big, big advantage for us is that we want to have access to the close-knit community of fans,” Malavé said. The Tennesseeian. “When you go talk to all the fan clubs like La Brigada and everyone else from the whole Backline Collective, there are friendships in there. There are connections. There are people who get involved. They go to games together, they tailgate together, they travel together. Our product is designed for groups like this.
Fostering a sense of community through football
Wagr lets fans bet with friends instead of against the house, giving fans an exciting new way to engage in the sports they love ⚽️https://t.co/Ia8ei8Slee
— 7️⃣7️⃣6️⃣ (@sevensevensix) April 14, 2022
Speaking with Malavé, whose resume includes a stint in the analysis department of Los Angeles FC, another recent and successful MLS expansion team, it’s clear that Wagr’s community aspect is his main driver. . A fan football a fan and native of Venezuela, Malavé admitted that he had never been a fan of the traditional sports betting landscape and wanted to make Wagr a differentiator in the market for long-term sustainability.
The constant presence of a community thread is unsurprising given Malavé and his co-founder and chief product officer Eliana Eskanazi’s respective backgrounds in startups, as the pair formed Wagr at Harvard Business School in 2019. It’s a very tight-knit company. – Wagr started with nine employees and now has 18. The intensity of the regulatory process surprised Malavé to some extent – although Wagr was approved by the Tennessee Education and Lottery Corporation for a license last September, he didn’t started accepting bets only in January.
The time before Sunday’s match included a lot of listening for Malavé. Wagr sponsored watch parties during Nashville SC’s season-opening road trip, with Malavé interacting with the club’s fan groups to explain the product and receive feedback about it. He envisions home games where traveling groups of fans from other cities interact with their Nashville counterparts via Wagr for friendly betting while enjoying games.
The 2026 World Cup, which the United States will co-host with Canada and Mexico, is of longer-term interest. But with Nashville’s recent entry into the rotation as the host site for the US men’s national games, there is also potential for growth this winter when the United States takes to the field in Qatar for the 2022 edition.
Another community avenue includes Wagr’s major investors – Seven Seven Six, Greycroft and Pear, who provided $4 million in seed funding in June 2021. Of the three, Seven Seven Six is arguably the best known, as Founder and General Partner Alexis Ohanian is the co-founder of Reddit – one of the largest online communities in the world – and the husband of Serena Williams, the greatest female tennis player of all time.
Responsible gaming means a better community
Wagr has partnered with NSC to become the Official Sports Betting Partner!
To celebrate, they want to give away an NSC t-shirt! Anyone who downloads the Wagr app and inserts the promotional code “labrigada” will receive $50 in free bets on their account. Coupon code: labrigada @TheBacklineSC pic.twitter.com/mFjvKwjeas
— La Brigada De Oro SG (@LaBrigadaDeOro) April 15, 2022
Malavé said he is proud of Wagr’s approach to responsible gambling, as it does not build customer loyalty through promotional games, which includes punters who may be chasing losses from previous bets. By industry standards, Wagr has some of the lowest betting limits available – the maximum bet is $500 – and the company’s user interface allows individuals to set betting limits.
“We want you to be a part of these conversations about water coolers and diners,” Malavé wrote in 2021 as part of the announcement accompanying the seed funding. “We want to see you brag when you see yourself at the top of the leaderboard and make fun of yourself when you’re at the bottom. Most importantly, we want you to do all of this without ever compromising your security.
Although Wagr has engineers ready to continue evolving the user interface, an interface that Malavé also sees possibly adding a social component, he wants the major advancements to come from Wagr users. He also sees an environment that could be ripe for expansion, hoping to be active in up to five states within a year.