MGT Capital Investments is reported to have signed an agreement to acquire a 65% share in FanTD, owners of the Fan Throw Down fantasy sports website.
In fantasy sports, players assemble teams of athletes to compete against other players’ teams based on statistics. Visitors of the FanTD site can engage in contests for the sheer entertainment value or even for real money, while the company gets a rake from the sum wagered.
Since there are no real online sportsbooks in the US, fantasy sports betting has an even greater following in the country. According to 2010 industry estimates, something like 32 million Americans and Canadians aged 12 and older played fantasy sports in that year.
American gambling laws do not ban betting on fantasy sports, since it is considered a game of skill, specifically exempted by Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, as long as prizes are not dependent upon the fees paid or number of players participating.
This is indeed a lucrative business and CEO Robert Ladd was quick to highlight the prospects.
“It is hard to overstate the potential we see in legal online gambling, both now & in the near future, as states continue to relax prohibitions in pursuit of tax revenue. […] Today’s announcement is part of MGT’s comprehensive strategy to add other games of skill over the next several months, with an emphasis on mobile applications and secure technologies,” said Ladd.
Though mobile betting and fantasy sports may be new playing fields for MGT, the company is no stranger to the gambling industry – with a twist.
Having acquired majority rights to a specific US patent titled “Gaming Device Having a Second Separate Bonusing Event” the company has been suing some of the major brick-and-mortar casino operators including Caesars, MGM and WMS, for patent infringement.
Indeed, “monetizing intellectual property rights” is the investment group’s chief activity. While this may make them a patent troll in the eyes of many observers, others – especially the patent’s original inventor – laud them for defending the interests of America’s private entrepreneurs.
Patent infringement aside, it appears that MGT is determined to diversify its gambling-related portfolio in anticipation of good times to come.