Business

The Irish eSports giant’s new startup is relying heavily on rugby to capture US market share

A fantasy sports exchange founded by Irish betting veteran Paddy Power offers rugby fans NFT-enabled live trading to expand globally.

American Sports Exchange (ASX Sports), has just signed a contract with New Zealand digital media company RugbyPass to use its data to allow fans to participate in ASX’s virtual exchange for rugby matches.

ASX Sports was launched in May 2021 and went live in Apple and Android app stores earlier this month. The exchange enables users to buy and sell virtual stocks of esports and fantasy players, with their prices reflected in real time based on player performance and fan demand. The virtual rugby games are scheduled to begin on the ASX exchange in early 2022 Six Nations Rugby Championshipsaid Power TechCrunch in an interview.

RugbyPass reaches an audience of over 10 million viewers, the company says. For ASX Sports, which is explicitly aiming to expand into the US market, rugby seems like an unexpected choice its popularity in Europe, Australia and Asia.

But the company, which has just relocated its headquarters from Dublin to Miami, is banking on the growing pull of rugby in the US, which has 8.8 million active rugby fans, according to sports analyst Gemba.

“NFTs are such an exciting buzzword, and the US is where it is. It’s home to the next-generation fantasy, and that’s effectively who we are. That’s why we’re based in Miami now and that’s opening up a lot of opportunities for us, ”said Power.

While ASX exchange users can buy and hold shares in certain players, the sports teams themselves and their sponsors will own the NFTs. The intricacies of partnership agreements for virtual team ownership on ASX are negotiated on a case-by-case basis by the teams, Power said.

Power previously worked in marketing for his father David Power’s company, Paddy Power Betfair, which changed its name to Flutter Entertainment in 2019 and bought a majority stake in FanDuel, the greatest player in US sports betting. ASX wants to position itself as a partner with leagues like the NFL and NBA as more and more US states, especially large markets like New York, want to legalize sports betting.

ASX is quickly raising capital to compete for coveted partnerships with established companies like Disney, Caesars and Fox Sports as the regulatory landscape opens. It’s the equivalent of over $ 560K in 24 hours before the market launch in May and uses the proceeds to hire a team of around 30 developers.

The company plans to launch a Series A round early next year and is currently in talks with Tier 1 sports franchises and leagues in the United States, according to Power.

ASX hosted its first public game last week, a virtual version of the English Premier League game Liverpool vs Arsenal.

“We have thousands of players – we’re delighted – and we had really good engagement and people trading during the game,” said Power.

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