Photographer: Ethan Miller/Getty Images 

Place Bets on Super Bowl Outcomes, Just Don't Call It Gambling

  • App offers cash prizes for fans who accurately predict events
  • WinView chairman says the contests are legal ’games of skill’

For years, as momentum has built for nationwide legalization of sports betting, companies have found ways to court fans who want more skin in the game. The daily fantasy industry, the most popular of the licit workarounds, redefined the legal line between paying contests and gambling.

During Sunday’s Super Bowl, WinView is pushing those boundaries even further, offering fans the chance to win money by correctly predicting events as the game unfolds.

It’s similar to what’s known in other parts of the world as in-game prop betting, and it’s very popular among fans looking for another reason to care about the game. WinView has altered the offering a bit, creating a “game of skill” that it says is exempt from U.S. sports gambling prohibitions.

“We call it a sports IQ prediction game,” WinView Executive Chairman Tom Rogers said. “We want to really separate this from what may come in terms of legalized sports betting and wagering. That’s a world apart from a social game of skill.”

WinView’s premise is simple. Players buy into a group of up to 25 other fans for contests that last an NFL or NBA quarter. Over the course of the quarter, every contestant is given the same set of questions to answer. You can weight each answer different, but on the whole, more correct answers means more points. The players with the most points at the end of each quarter win money.

This month marks WinView’s first foray into for-money games. The company launched in 2014, and raised $12 million in May from a group that includes Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and Discovery Communications. Until two weeks ago, the company’s offerings were all free to enter, with a few cash prizes done through sponsors. The new cash games, with entry fees from $2 to $100, are available in 36 states.

The gradual evolution of WinView comes as many companies across tech, media and gambling brace for a change to sports betting laws in the U.S. The Supreme Court is expected to rule this spring on the constitutionality of the federal law that bars sports betting. The NBA, led by commissioner Adam Silver, has been vocal in how it would like the federal government to lay out a national framework. If the laws change one way or another, “it’d be a good outcome,” Rogers said.

That’s because WinView’s 48 patents cover not only its current offerings, but also some of the live, in-game betting technology that has become popular in gambling markets across Europe. Those rights would be “very valuable” in a legalized system, Rogers said.

For the Super Bowl, WinView is offering a promotional $25,000 jackpot, paid if any player in their cash games can correctly answer every one of the 18-25 questions posed in a quarter of the Super Bowl. The odds aren’t in your favor -- guessing right on 25 straight coin flips, for example, is 1 in 33,554,432 -- but participants can still win money as part of WinView’s paid games and it will likely bring more users to give it a try. The app has about 200,000 so far.

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