Underdog Sportsbook will be one of the many newcomers in Ohio’s market when sports betting begins in January.
The daily fantasy side of the company is already up and running around most of the U.S., including in Ohio.
However, Ohio sports betting will mark the start of a new era for Underdog. Evolving into a sportsbook won’t be easy, but embracing that side of the industry could help the company take things to the next level.
Underdog Sportsbook coming to Ohio
Underdog isn’t the first company to make the leap from daily fantasy to sports betting.
Gambling heavyweights like DraftKings and FanDuel ran daily fantasy sites for years before the Supreme Court struck down the nationwide ban on sports betting back in 2018.
With a legal sports betting market finally starting to open up, both companies successfully transitioned into the new industry. Making the jump requires hiring new workers and lots of regulatory legwork to make things happen.
Those new sportsbooks, of course, kept their wildly popular fantasy sites up and running.
Since then, plenty of newcomers have joined that daily fantasy business over the years, and Underdog has made a name for itself.
The company first opened its digital doors for business back in 2020. Over the past couple of years, it has grown into one of the most popular daily fantasy sites in the country.
Underdog is hoping to replicate the success of its competitors when it comes to jumping from the fantasy to sports betting side of the industry.
However, that might end up being easier said than done for the company.
Tough Ohio sports betting competition
When DraftKings and FanDuel decided to join the sports betting world, both were already huge companies. They were also among the first operators to get up and running in the U.S.
Those are two huge advantages that Underdog won’t have for its sportsbook debut.
The U.S. sports betting business is incredibly competitive these days, and it doesn’t work out for every company.
Underdog will face similar competition in Colorado in Massachusetts, two other new markets where the company plans to launch.
Underdog will have to get creative in order to stand out from crowd in new states. That will ultimately depend on how far Jeremy Levine, the company’s founder, can take things.
Levine tells PlayOhio that creating something unique is a key focus for the company’s plans. He also hopes that Underdog’s partnership with the Cincinnati Reds will help the company jump start its business in Ohio.
“What our team is building, won’t feel like a traditional sportsbook — it is designed to create immersive experiences that bring fans closer to the action. We’ll have an immediate level of connectivity to the market through our collaboration with the Cincinnati Reds, who have been great partners in our efforts to elevate new types of betting wagers within the state.”
Levine previously created the DRAFT and StarStreet fantasy apps, which he eventually sold off to other companies. Underdog Fantasy is his latest project in the gambling space, and opening a sports betting side of the company might be his toughest challenge yet.
No retail Underdog Sportsbook
Online sportsbooks have to find a land-based partner before they can start taking bets in Ohio.
Underdog’s deal with the Cincinnati Reds fills that requirement for the company.
However, don’t expect an in-person version of Underdog Sportsbook at the team’s stadium.
Underdog’s sports betting ambitions start and end with online betting, at least for now. The Reds plan to open a sportsbook at Great American Ball Park next year, but BetMGM will be handling that side of things for the team.
Ohio will be Underdog Sportsbook’s big debut in the U.S., unless the company manages to launch in Colorado before January.
Regardless of the timing, success in Ohio would be a huge win for the business a whole. If Underdog can stick the landing during its transition from daily fantasy to sports betting, then the company could start spreading to other markets around the country sooner rather than later.