Team of gambling industry veterans will provide funding and expertise

Venture capital fund SGIF targets startups for the US sports betting market

Chris Grove, David Sargeant, Blaine Graboyes, Seth Schorr and SeventySix Capital are the SGIF team partners.
Reading time 2:26 min
The newly-formed Sports Gaming Investment Fund is the first-ever venture fund dedicated to discovering, funding, and guiding the development of the best startups in the casino industry. It will guide them through the complex landscape of regulated gambling, aiming to ensure optimal product fit and market access.

The Sports Gambling Investment Fund (SGIF), a venture capital (VC) fund focused primarily on the U.S. legal sports betting opportunity, announced Wednesday the establishment of the first-ever venture fund dedicated to discovering, funding, and guiding the development of the best startups in the casino industry.

Amid the U.S. sports betting market fast expansion, a wave of innovative startups is emerging with products, services, and solutions designed to tap the estimated $17 billion dollar opportunity that legal U.S. sports betting represents.   

The management team for this industry-first fund features a host of gambling industry, investment, and venture expertise: Chris Grove, Managing Partner, is a partner at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, where he heads the firm’s sports betting practice; David Sargeant, Managing Partner, is the founder and CEO of iGaming Ideas, a leading international incubator for gambling startups, and sports betting consultant to leading operators across the globe; Blaine Graboyes, Advisory Partner, is the co-founder and CEO of the video game gambling machine inventor GameCo; Seth Schorr, Advisory Partner, is the Chairman of Fifth Street Gaming and co-founder of the streaming media startup Konek TV.

Also, SeventySix Capital is an Advisory Partner, and it will assist with deal structure, vetting, and back office. 

Investors in SGIF have been attracted by the combination of timing, team, and opportunity. “My decision to invest in SGIF was driven by my belief in the team’s superior deal flow, their proven ability to evaluate that flow, and the resources they can deploy to support portfolio companies,” said Jeremy Levine, an investor in SGIF. He is the founder of multiple companies, including DRAFT, which was acquired by Paddy Power Betfair in 2017. 

“There’s no doubt that the keys to fully unlocking the potential of the U.S. sports betting market are in the hands of startups,” said Grove, a nationally-recognized expert on the legal sports book industry. “We’re just now starting to see the ideas that will ultimately define sports betting in the United States.”

“The pace of development in the U.S. market only increases the opportunity for startups,” added Sargeant, who has evaluated hundreds of early-stage companies during his career. “Large casinos and software providers won’t have the bandwidth or resources to truly innovate. They’re too busy simply getting up and running.

SGIF will help to guide startups through the complex landscape of regulated gambling. “Gambling is one of the toughest industries for startups from a compliance perspective,” noted Graboyes, who has steered GameCo from concept to a strongly-licensed gambling supplier. “Having the right plan as early as possible in the process can easily be the difference between success and failure for a startup targeting the sports betting industry,”

SGIF will add additional value to portfolio companies by helping to ensure optimal product fit and market access.Startups don’t always appreciate what problems larger gambling companies are actually looking to solve and what opportunities do and don’t resonate with those companies,” said Schorr, who has held management roles at several Las Vegas casinos and currently operates the Downtown Grand in Las Vegas. “We will help our startups hone their product, model, and approach to fit with the real demand within the gambling industry, and then match a startup's product to that demand.”

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