Ex-Banker Creates Gambling Startup That Wins Over Danish State

Updated on
  • Ex-Saxo banker sets up firm that offers pool-betting on stocks
  • Denmark's government-run gambling agency mulls collaboration

A former gaming analyst from Denmark has started what he says is the world’s first online gambling site for betting on share movements. And the government is keen to jump into the venture as stock-market watching goes mainstream.

“We are highly committed to following new trends in the gaming market, and we think that this game has potential,” said Sofie Ustrup, spokeswoman for Danske Spil, the state-owned gambling company. “Regular people in Denmark are now starting to pay attention to the stock market, and it has become normal, not just for experts.”

Fibetco, based in Copenhagen, hired the tech team that developed the Hitman third-person shooter game series to create BetOnFinance, said founder Jeff Saul, who also served on the senior management team at foreign exchange broker Saxo Bank.

Players can decide which companies in a basket of 30 they think will be the day’s top performer, or among the top three. They can also bet on the losers. Among the stocks included are Tesla, Netflix and the biotech firm Gilead. Those that didn’t make the cut because they’re too stable: Berkshire Hathaway and Nike, Saul said.

The games aren’t regulated by financial supervisors because players are entering a world akin to fantasy sports games and there’s no correlation between winnings and the actual performance of the underlying stock, Saul said. In that way, the betting differs from binary options, he said.

“Our product isn’t a financial product: It’s a pool-betting product,” he said.

The company has a license to operate in Denmark and is seeking another in Malta before expanding to the U.K. It’s also targeting countries that don’t require licenses, including Sweden.

Danske Spil provided help to develop the game, including testing, because the combination of finance and gaming “is really, really interesting,” Ustrup said. “Now that they’ve gone live we’re following it very closely, helping with, for example, banner ads. When it’s up and running for some time, we will evaluate the nature of the future collaboration.”