With some two dozen online sportsbooks already available in the New Jersey marketplace, startups face a difficult time standing out from that crowd. But several are trying.
In late August, Prophet Exchange launched as a product that allows “peer-to-peer betting” on games rather than relying on a third party to establish a firm line.
SportTrade, which launched in mid-September, allows consumers to do “day-trading” within a single game, including the option to buy low on a team that is trailing, then sell at a profit once they catch up.
And as of Monday, Mojo is open for business in the Garden State with its own unique wrinkle: risking money on the career values of various NFL players.
New Jersey is the first state where Mojo has been licensed, but the company — aided by partnerships with Caesars Entertainment and PENN Entertainment — has expectations of going live in more states as soon as early 2023, with concrete plans for launch in nine states in the future.
Taking stock of NFL quarterbacks
At launch, only NFL players are “on the market,” although there are plans in the works by Mojo to add virtually every major sport down the road.
NJ Online Gambling was taken through a tutorial on Wednesday morning demonstrating how the marketplace works.
Quarterbacks are the glamour market, and of course “GOAT” Tom Brady leads the list in terms of career value achieved and of career value expected when he retires for good. Brady, at age 45 and with little time left to add more value, can be thought of as an incredibly conservative stock. The Mojo points system has him at 163.36 achieved points, with an expected value at retirement — when investments cash out — of 170.56 points.
But for those with a firm opinion on Brady’s future and with a desire to take more risk, a “multiplier” is offered as an option for 15 times the volatility. Fans can either go “long” or “short” on Brady or other players, with the amount won or lost rising significantly by the week when the multiplier is used.
The points are based on actual stats as well as on projections.
Most volatile of all are rookie quarterbacks like Kenny Pickett of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who as a benchwarmer has low current value but some expected lifetime production.
Imagine having bought Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts in the preseason, when there was serious debate about his ability to thrive in the NFL. Even buying after Game 1 would have come at a far lesser price than what he now commands following a scintillating performance against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.
Why New Jersey?
Mojo co-founder Bart Stein told NJ Online Gambling that launching first in New Jersey was based in large part on the state’s status as a pioneer in legal, regulated gambling.
New Jersey welcomed the first online casino gaming competitive marketplace in the U.S. in 2013, then began permitting sports betting within a month of its victory at the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2018. That ruling struck down a federal ban on such gambling outside of Nevada.
“New Jersey is a great place to start,” Stein said.
To raise consumer awareness, Stein said the company will feature a “grassroots” marketing campaign that includes Mojo trucks at sporting events in the state as well as visits to major sports bars packed with potential customers on NFL game days.
A-Rod a key investor in Mojo
The year-old startup company has controversial former baseball star Alex Rodriguez and billionaire entrepreneur Marc Lore as major investors, though they are not expected to have day-to-day involvement in Mojo’s business. Last year, A-Rod and Lore teamed up to buy 20% of the Minnesota Timberwolves NBA franchise.
“I’ve always thought the idea of a sports stock market was the holy grail — the vision could transform sports, and fandom as a whole,” Lore told Front Office Sports.
Other investors include comedian Chris Rock, Resorts Atlantic City owner Morris Bailey, and the NFL Players Association.
Part of Mojo’s appeal, Stein told NJ Online Gambling, is to cater to sports fans having strong opinions about the long-term value of particular players. Now those fans can put their money where their mouth is.
And as with the stock market, Mojo customers can jump in and out at any time.
Those bettors who bought low on Hurts, for example, may find the new perceived lifetime value of Hurts so overpriced that they cash out now at a profit. But another customer may be willing to pay the new premium value because of a perception that he has shown enough skill already to be a safe investment.