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Fantasy sports company Underdog receives sports betting provider license in Ohio

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New York-based paid fantasy sports company Underdog has been awarded a license by the Ohio Casino Control Commission to operate as an online sports betting service provider in the state once legal wagering launches in 2023.

In addition, Underdog has reached an agreement with Major League Baseball’s Cincinnati Reds to be a market-access partner.

Jeremy Levine, President and Chairman of Underdog, said: "Today marks a significant milestone in Underdog’s history and we’re thrilled to have been granted a license to operate in Ohio."

"We’re building a unique, immersive sports betting platform and our partnership with the Cincinnati Reds will create an immediate channel to users in the state once our products are unveiled," he added.

Ohio marks one of several states where Underdog is aiming to roll out its real-money sportsbook in the coming years, in addition to its daily fantasy products, with the aim "to create deeper connections with sports fans across the country."

The firm completed a second fundraising round that values the company at $485 million earlier this year, according to a The Wall Street Journal report from July. Underdog said at the time it raised $35 million in a B round including BlackRock and Acies Investment, the latter a venture-capital firm focused on sports betting and online gambling.

The round came as Underdog seeks to expand from fantasy-sports contests into sports wagering, which has rapidly grown into a more than $4 billion industry in the U.S. The company’s founder, Jeremy Levine, said Underdog has grown its customer base by developing games different from those offered by major companies in the market today.

“The rest of the companies, they’re sportsbook companies, that’s how they view themselves,” Levine told WSJ. “We like to think of ourselves as a gaming studio in a licensed betting environment.”

Levine has previously founded two fantasy sports companies. He sold the assets of StarStreet, an early fantasy site, to DraftKings in 2014. He also launched a mobile-focused fantasy site, Draft, which was bought for $48 million in 2017 by Paddy Power Betfair, now known as Flutter Entertainment, the owner of FanDuel.

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