Playtech and SpringOwl Asset Management lead the fifth round of funding for GameCo

GameCo Seeks Fifth Round Of Funding To Develop ‘Video Game Casino’ Products And Enter Esports Betting

Little GameCo has big plans for expanding its digital footprint with online casino games that harken back to the video arcades of yesteryear. The company, which describes itself as “the video game casino,” is seeking its fifth round of funding since its inception in 2015.

GameCo employed aspirational language in its announcement on Mar. 23. This calendar year, its primary goal is to “expand rapidly into digital markets” by adding its arcade-style gambling products to existing online casinos. Furthermore, GameCo also aims to be “a leader in esports betting in the US.”

As proof that it can succeed with skill-based online gambling, GameCo cited its New Jersey license acquired in July 2020. That state operates “the largest iGaming market in North America,” GameCo noted.

GameCo plays on after a month of hardships

The 32-employee, Las Vegas-based platform provider is trying to remain positive as it emerges from a difficult month.

On Feb. 18, the Nevada Gaming Commission denied a gaming license to the then-CEO Blaine Graboyes (whose legal surname is Goldman). Commissioners characterized Graboyes as “self-dealing” in explaining their reasons for denying the license.

They’d heard from a representative of computer games company Beyond Gaming. The accusation that Graboyes took intellectual property from Beyond and used it at GameCo concerned commissioners who believed he had a conflict of interest, as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Just two business days later, Graboyes was no longer working for GameCo.

And on March 18, GameCo proudly announced that it had tapped board member Adam Rosenberg to become the new CEO.

How GameCo wants to use this round of funding

GameCo has so many irons in the fire that it’s easy to lose track of its purpose.

On its site and in its press releases, GameCo says its gambling offerings are specifically aimed at Millennials and Gen Xers.

Leveraging nostalgia and generational culture is the plan. Many of those Gen Xers will remember playing Donkey Kong and Pac-Man in video game arcades. Millennials are the console generation, and grew up playing titles like Mario Kart at home.

In 2006, Smithsonian magazine summed up these halcyon days:

“A 1980 market research survey by Atari showed that 86% of the US population between the ages of 13 and 20 has played some arcade video games.”

That number is no doubt even higher now. GameCo wants to attract those video game players to gambling with a hybrid product.

Most of this new round of funding is earmarked for that effort. At the same time, GameCo is also looking to branch out a bit.

While GameCo promises to create new game titles, it will also be expanding its esports betting business.

Skee-Ball by GameCo

Skee-Ball, one recent GameCo product

Expanding iGaming and esports betting during the pandemic

Like many gambling license holders, GameCo refocused its efforts toward iGaming during the pandemic.

In 2020, while its arcade-style games sat idle in closed retail casinos, GameCo created a new division and brand. Dubbed iGameCo, this new wing of the company will concentrate on online casino games and esports betting, according to an August announcement.

For that effort, GameCo formed an alliance with Berlin-based GRID, an esports data platform creator. GRID will supply GameCo with the odds and trading information it needs for esports wagering.

GameCo’s 2021 plans

This year for GameCo will be mostly about scaling up its arcade-style online casino gambling and esports betting offerings. It plans to release dozens of iGaming products each year going forward.

The hedge fund SpringOwl Asset Management is one of the companies investing in GameCo. Its CEO Jason Ader said he made the choice to invest in GameCo because its arcade-style gambling and iGaming are entering a “relatively untapped sector.”

To facilitate that growth, GameCo has entered a long-term distribution agreement with gambling software developer Playtech. An Isle of Man-based developer, Playtech is also a GameCo investor and has increased its own stake in GameCo during this round of fundraising.

Under the agreement, GameCo can access hundreds of Playtech’s online casino brands to release its arcade-style gaming, build iGaming products on Playtech’s platform and use its distribution network in dozens of markets across EuropeLatin America and North America.

Playtech entered the US market in June 2020 via a partnership with Bet365 by providing with online casino products for its New Jersey app. Playtech had been known in Mexico for its sports betting prowess.

- Heather Fletcher is the lead writer with OnlinePokerReport. She's a career journalist, with bylines in The New York Times, Adweek and other publications. Reach her at [email protected]
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