The dearth of live sporting events during the COVID-19 pandemic has left television networks broadcasting vintage games and sportsbooks and daily fantasy operators scrambling to developing markets from the margins.

SportAD might have found a solution to its DFS void in emulating those networks.

The gaming platform-provider, which this year began offering traditional head-to-head daily fantasy games as QuickPicks, has now launched similar propositions using NBA players from different stages of their careers as the real-life market has sheltered in place.

There’s action for the more ardent player, with the understanding that randomness plays a large factor in the outcome. There is fast gratification for the dabbler. Whether QuickPicks Classic can be something for everyone remains to be seen. It could become its own sub-category of DFS once real sports return, or it could just be a placeholder.

“The standard game lends itself to someone who considers themselves sharper, rather than not,” SportAD head of marketing and analysis Larry Everling said. “The Classic version, where it’s a randomly-generated, it’s super-fast and can be a little broader. Sharps may not love it, but it’s something. We’ve got the bones of something that can extend into a pretty big downtime in terms of action.”

How does QuickPicks work?

QuickPicks offers a menu of head-to-head matchups featuring players from different seasons by tapping into Sportradar data.

They can be the same player from different stages of their career, as evidenced by an Al Horford 16-17 vs. Al Horford 17-18 matchup on Friday afternoon. The players’ average per-game fantasy points for the season being utilized are displayed.

An algorithm then randomly selects a game from that particular season for consideration. If it’s Steph Curry 2014-2015 vs. James Harden 2017-2018, the Warriors’ guard figures to have a better chance to prevail in fantasy points most nights. Therein lies the hopeful allure for sharps. But the randomness of the game could select an off night for Curry or any player.

“Right now, our data is through 2013. What we’re aiming for down the road, if we feel that this thing has legs to go back even further,” Everling explained, “pit Dan Marino, the rare gunslinger in the ‘80s and ‘90s versus, a Drew Brees from today or Walter Payton versus Ezekiel Elliott. That type of thing.”

Players choose between two and 10 matchups per ticket. If a player makes three choices, odds improve for perfect parlay depending on the size:

· 3 out of 3 = 5:1

· 4 out of 4 = 10:1

· 5 out of 5 = 18:1

· 6 out of 6 = 35:1

· 7 out of 7 = 70:1

· 8 out of 8 = 125:1

· 9 out of 9 = 250:1

· 10 out of 10 = 500:1

QuickPicks company history

The germ of QuickPicks began in 2015 with Fast Fantasy in what were heady times for the DFS industry. By July of 2017, the company had morphed its approach and entered a business-to-business licensing agreement with Resorts Casino in New Jersey.

The platform legally qualifies as a game of skill and/or daily fantasy in now 28 states, Everling said, because “we’re pitting player one versus player two and you pick at least three sides of either a match up or over/under based on projected average fantasy points for that game that evening.”

Of course, the DFS industry has been plagued by legal questions over the years, but QuickPicks has a legal opinion for why it operates these games in those states.

The nullification of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May of 2018 brought legal sports betting to New Jersey and the pressure of FanDuel and DraftKings in paying a premium for customer acquisition.

While those original DFS companies acquired casino licensing agreements and set about dominating the New Jersey market, QuickPicks executives began to move, Everling said, on discussions regarding a new direction. States with large populations and amenable DFS laws but no sports betting, at the time, became opportunities.

“We saw as other states were going into sports betting, there are vast swaths of the country like California, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan [which have since legalized sports betting], Maryland that really don’t have that much regulation standing in the way of offering a daily fantasy sports game,” he said. “And ours is a bit more of a hybrid. It’s not pool-based like DraftKings and FanDuel classic are where you’re going one against 10,000 other people. Ours is a house-backed game.

“We’ve just added New York, which is huge. New York has a bit of a licensing hurdle, but we successfully climbed that mountain. So now we’re in 28 states. And we said, ‘Okay, what can we do with our platform to keep the momentum going?’”

Virtual matchups

COVID-19 was absolutely not the answer. But it provided the impetus.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” Everling quipped.

Everling was watching NBA games on March 12 when a positive coronavirus test by Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert prompted the clearing of the court before the opening tip and set in motion the cascading shutdown of sports in North America.

Betting markets dried up everywhere, sending sportsbook to esports, tables tennis, and Ukranian soccer matches.

QuickPicks’ cache of Sportradar data tracing to 2013 had suddenly become a real-time opportunity.

“We don’t know when live sports are going to come back. Everybody’s banking on the NFL really carrying the day,” Everling said. “Sportradar has its product, soccer that it runs in Europe, which is an animated shortened game of three minutes. They’re going to launch a similar version of MLB.

“DraftKings is running simulated Madden [DFS games]. So, as we started to think about it, we said, ‘We all listen to sports talk radio. Everybody has an argument [about] who’s better in their prime? This a way to fill that void.’”

Pulling historical data, QuickPicks can post a new set of matchups every hour without pause, creating an around-the-clock market. The company plans to add NFL propositions this week. That, in theory, mitigates the absence of action for, particularly, in-play bettors.

“Previously you were just making your picks based on that night’s live schedule,” Everling said. “Now, we’ll run 24 sets of matchups every day and we think that fulfills a frequency void that people were having.

“We lost a handful of guys who wanted to withdraw and stop playing, but 99.6% of our players stayed and now they’re back into it.”

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