A new daily fantasy sports app is coming to Illinois, and it will only cost you spare change to play.
Hedge, which describes itself as “Acorns for fantasy sports,” recently closed a $250,000 angel funding round. It’s meant to serve as a lower-cost alternative in the fantasy sports space.
How does it work? Co-founder Jackson Fitzgerald provided PlayIllinois with the following example:
Let’s say you buy a coffee in the morning for $2.50. Hedge will allow you to fund your DFS account with spare change round-ups on such purchases, with the ability to win prizes up to $1,000.
“We say our mission is to allow spare change to change someone’s life,” Fitzgerald said.
Users will still set their own lineups as they would on DraftKings or FanDuel. Fitzgerald views Hedge as a complementary product to those industry giants, and actually sees Acorns and Stash as its main competitors.
Fitzgerald says Hedge is shooting to go live in Illinois in January or February.
A younger focus for Hedge
Hedge is initially targeting college campuses, such as Northwestern or Illinois in the Land of Lincoln. It currently has six full-time employees, and will be setting up grassroots campaigns on campuses to acquire new users.
Fitzgerald says Hedge is “the perfect way to stay within your means as a college-aged person.”
Hedge eventually intends to expand into sports betting and online casino, though it is focused on the DFS space for now. It will run on its own technology.
In total, Hedge has raised $350,000 to date. It’s based in Pennsylvania, and has investors in Pittsburgh.
As we know, Illinois is an extremely attractive market for sports gaming operators.
The Prairie State is the fastest-growing sports betting market in the US, and posted the No. 4 September handle in the country. That’s despite only being around for a few months.
Illinois is No. 6 in the US in terms of population, and Chicago is a sports-crazed city with the Bears, Cubs, Bulls, White Sox and Blackhawks. Therefore, it’s an ideal fit for a sports gaming newcomer such as Hedge.
Fitzgerald said Illinois has a rare combination of legal sports betting, a huge city and a large college presence that made it a tantalizing market.
In addition to Illinois and Northwestern, Illinois State, Northern Illinois, DePaul and UIC also have sizable student bodies.
Hedge is also targeting Wisconsin and California. However, sports betting isn’t legal in either of those states yet, and Hedge plans to expand into sports betting, online casino and lottery.
In this case, Illinois could serve as a true guinea pig.