As peer-to-peer wagering platforms and betting exchanges continue to jockey for traditional sportsbook customers, the Metaverse is making its play.
Azuro, a decentralized autonomous organization attempting to construct a blockchain sports betting platform, announced on Monday that it had raised $4 million in funding.
The injection of US dollars, powered by Hypersphere, Gnosis, Merit Circle, Quiet Capital, and Formless Capital – brought Azuro’s total kitty for the project to $7.5 million.
“Delivering on our 2-pronged mission to disrupt traditional online betting with a fairer, more transparent, and more fun decentralized alternative, and to build a betting overlay for the Metaverse is impossible without strong support,” Azuro contributor Paruyr Shahbazyan said in a release.
An initial round in January was funded by AllianceDAO, Arrington Capital, Ethereal Ventures, and Delphi Digital. Once in the virtual realm, Bookmaker.xyz, Azuro’s sportsbook brand, utilizes the AZUR coin.
Gambling start-ups rush into metaverse
While metaverse casinos proliferate, sportsbooks remain a relatively more open opportunity.
The mission statement, according to Azuro:
- “disrupting traditional online betting with a fairer, more transparent, and more fun decentralized alternative”
- “delivering a betting overlay for the Metaverse”
The germ of cutting into traditional sportsbooks’ business has always been about the vig, or the price taken by the house for the service of taking the wager.
Betting exchanges like BettorEdge have been able to operate in the United States in jurisdictions where sports betting isn’t legal because the company takes no fee, sets no odds, and acts like a social platform facilitating the actions of bettors wagering against each.
These types of sites eliminate fees but can’t assure a bettor’s wager will be accepted. In general, they often attract a different type of customer.
Azuro, through its Bookmaker.xyz brand, would be the house but use DAOs, liquidity pools, non-fungible tokens, and prediction markets to reduce overhead, according to a release surrounding the platform launch in June. Each bet made with Azuro would be an NFT, ostensibly to spur secondary markets.
“The problem is incentive misalignment,” Rossen Yordanov, a core contributor to the endeavor said in a press release regarding traditional sportsbooks.
“Profits are zero-sum so many betting companies go to great lengths to create unfair and opaque environments for the players.”
Bookmaker is not currently available in the United States, Russian Federation, Turkey, or China, according to its website. A yarn ball of regulations would have to be worked out for that to happen, especially considering the role of NFTs.
With cryptocurrency markets quaking, NFTs could become more valuable than ever as a means of wagering, which led to federal intervention in multiple states to shut down a metaverse casino.
“NFT is more convoluted,” said Martin Lycka, the SVP for American Regulatory Affairs and Responsible Gambling at Entain, ” if the NFTs were to start to be used for gambling vehicles or for gambling advertising purposes.”