In October 2017, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill allowing sports betting in the state of Pennsylvania, which took effect the following year with the repeal of PASPA, a federal law outlawing sports betting.
It became the focus of the sports and esports industries that year, piquing the interest of leaders in the field and those investing in related tech ventures.
It was also signal to Brian Goldstein and Paul Lee, founders of a new betting intelligence platform, that a real hole was about to exist in the tech industry in PA. The pair had both gone off to work in other cities and fields, but the introduction of this new industry brought them back to Philly.
“In 2017, this was a zero dollar industry,” Goldstein said. “We just had this realization that sports betting was going to be huge.”
The two University of Pennsylvania grads started abe, a mobile tool for comparing real-time betting odds aggregated from legal sportsbooks, last spring.
In January, they launched the betting intelligence platform, which is currently available on desktop or mobile. Anticipate the release of an iOS app around August 2020, Goldstein said.
The platform exists to compare odds and research and manage bets, offering features such as a price comparison tool for matchups and courses on “Betting 101.”
Goldstein said because the industry is so new, it can be intimidating to navigate. The goal of abe is to educate users and offer a full scope of data before they place a bet, which they can do directly on the platform.
Goldstein said the abe team is currently made up of five full-timers — mostly engineers — who work out of a Center City’s WeWork location. He holds the CEO title, while Lee is the company’s COO. They have plans to hire more engineers over the next few months or so.
And the team will be launching a historical odds feature in the next few weeks, creating “what is really the first comprehensive database for sports betting,” Goldstein said.
So, where does that name come from?
“We want to be a beacon of truth in sports betting — independent and data driven,” Goldstein said, throwing a nod to the 16th U.S. president.
The team raised a friends and family round of about $1.3 million since its inception and will likely go on to fundraise a seed round soon.
For now, Goldstein said, he believes abe doesn’t have a ton of competition, but that will probably change. There’s historically been a lack of institutional funds because sports betting has been illegal, he said, but it’s inherently a tech industry.
“There hasn’t been a lot of innovation in this space,” Goldstein said. “But sports betting at its core is tech and it should have some high-level jobs involved.”-30-