Wager Champs, a free-to-play platform that allows fans to experience sports betting in a social and competitive way, launched its web application in the U.S. market earlier this month.
The app allows fans to bet on sports with play money in an authentic on-site sportsbook with real Vegas odds and all major and niche sports.
CEO and co-founder Rayan Vatti said their goal was to replicate the true experience and feel of online and mobile sportsbooks. Wager Champs made it a point to include both prop bets for major sports and parlays.
Competitive and social game modes
Wager Champs offers free monthly sports betting contests with prizes awarded to players who finish with the largest bankrolls.
Through the first 10 days of the December contest, which is still open for registration, over 200 wagers were made. The winner will receive a free custom sports jersey, and a $100 cash pool will be split among the top five finishers.
“We’re obviously not at the stage where we can offer millions of dollars yet, but people are excited about our prizes, especially because unlike some of those bigger fantasy sports platforms, they know they can actually win,” Vatti said.
As Wager Champs continues to grow its userbase, the prize offerings will also expand. Vatti said they are actively talking to sponsors about providing prizes for future contests.
Wager Champs also offers sports betting leagues and private contests so sports fans can compete with their friends, family and fellow sports fans.
“Fantasy football, survivor pools, and March Madness brackets are so popular mainly because they are fun ways for sports fans to compete with their friends,” Vatti said. “We are bringing the same concept to sports betting.”
Wager Champs offers head-to-head leagues that are set-up like fantasy football leagues, except players are competing to build a higher play bankroll at the end of the matchup. They are also releasing a mode where fans can customize their own private contests.
Targeting both new and existing sports bettors
Vatti said that because of its risk-free nature and easy-to-use interface, Wager Champs is the perfect way for sports fans who have not yet tried sports betting to learn the ropes.
“Market data shows there are more than 60 million sports fans who are interested in sports betting, bet with friends or play fantasy sports, but haven’t actually placed a real sports bet yet,” Vatti said. “Wager Champs would be a comfortable and fun starting point for many of those fans.”
But Wager Champs also plans to target existing sports bettors by giving them a fun, competitive and social way to track their picks. While Vatti acknowledges most sports bettors won’t transition to risk-free betting unless they are losing a lot of money, he said it can be a great complimentary app for them.
I truly believe this will become the most engaging free-to-play sports gaming platform on the market
“Sports bettors love to talk about their picks and compare them with friends,” he said. “Trash talking is a huge reason for the popularity of sports betting. We allow sports fans to make private groups with their friends, track each other’s picks, and compete over different lengths of time.”
One way Wager Champs hopes to bring in existing sports bettors is by empowering content creators who already have large audiences to host their own private contests.
As sports betting has taken off in popularity, there has been an emergence of sports betting content creators, influencers, podcasts, media outlets, and message boards. Vatti said Wager Champs can be a tool for those groups to engage and interact with their fans.
“If you have a sports betting podcast or blog, creating a private contest with your followers so they could all compete with you and against each other gives you a fun way to engage them,” Vatti said.
Wager Champs is expected to release an update to their app that allows content providers to create and customize their own private contests in a matter of weeks. Vatti said he spoke to several prominent influencers and content creators in the industry who expressed interest in hosting their own contest.
From a napkin sketch to a fully functional platform
Vatti said he first thought of the idea when he watched his friends make pretend sports bets on the Action Network tracking app and compare picks. He thought it was silly at the time, but he soon realized there was a huge market for a risk-free sports betting experience as long as it was both competitive and social.
“I did extensive market research and talked to nearly 100 sports fans to get feedback, and I knew I had something,” Vatti said.
Vatti said he first sketched the concept and game rules on an airplane napkin. He turned that into a specification sheet and wire frame, and then hired an offshore developer to build a minimum viable product. He recently brought on Chad Clites, a veteran full-stack developer and UI/UX designer, to take over as CTO and a co-founder.
Wager Champs launched its first web app on December 1, but they are continuing to roll-out new updates based on user feedback. Vatti said they are also working on a mobile application for the Apple and Google Play stores, but the priority remains bringing in early adopters.
“We have big things planned, and I truly believe this will become the most engaging free-to-play sports gaming platform on the market once sports fans find out about it,” Vatti said. “Our current players love it, and the sky is the limit once word gets out.”