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Players can now place wagers on one-on-one video games using a new app called 1v1Me that was inspired by at-home betting during the pandemic.
1v1Me launched with well-known content creators, such as NoisyButters, joining in. It is starting off small and supporting just two video games, so that it’s a “much more controlled environment,” said founder Anthony Geranio in an interview with Insider.
To participate, you have to get an invite to play from a content creator on the app. Geranio said the app now has nearly 12,000 people waiting to play.
Once invited, 1v1Me confirms a player’s identity. Then, players must add a bank account to the app and agree with an opponent on how much to wager. 1v1Me then places the money from their bets into escrow. The gamers use livestreaming service Twitch when they play the game. This allows others to watch the match and 1v1Me to monitor it to ensure it’s fair and determine who wins. Once concluded, 1v1Me transfers the money to the winner’s bank account.
To place a bet on a game, a player must be 18. Minors can still play with the app, but they can’t wager on the match, the founder said. He added that the app only operates in the 48 states where it’s legal to wager on skill-based games.
Before launching, Geranio and co-founder Alex Emmanuel raised $2 million in financing. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed them to create the app, Geranio said, as they saw friends spending their time at home placing bets on online poker and playing video games.
Geranio said his mission for the company is “to help more gamers make a living from esports.” Geranio said he wants to generate the next wave of gaming content creators on popular platforms like YouTube and Twitch.
“Kids today are waking up and want to become YouTube stars, versus doctors and astronauts,” he said. “The No. 1 place to make YouTube content is in gaming.”
Gamer NoisyButters, who also invested in the app, tweeted a photo with the new app Monday, saying she used to put her one-on-one record in “Call of Duty” on her XBox biography, but “now there’s an app for it.”
Live esports tournaments faced struggles amid the pandemic, and the industry, which was set to hit $1 billion in 2020, missed the mark as leagues forfeited their arena events but kept the seasons alive. Since the US Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting in 2018, consulting agency Activate predicted people could bet as much as $150 billion per year by 2023.