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Kevin Smith

Taking a Dip in the Pool Business

21 December 2004

Graeme Levin knows a little something about operating a successful Web site in the online gaming space.

After finally selling his portal site in January 2004, he spent much of the year developing a new concept for the online betting market. In November he launched, a site designed to bring the concept of pool betting to the online marketplace.

"We have any event that will have an outcome. If a definitive result will come out, then punters can bet on it."

Levin said offers the simplicity of pool betting, which is based on a pari-mutuel formula, with the wide offerings of bets found on P2P exchanges.

"We have any event that will have an outcome," Levin said. "If a definitive result will come out, then punters can bet on it."

Unlike a betting exchange, pool bettors don't wager against each other. Instead of a market in which a seller of a wager is matched with a buyer, wagers made at are pooled (on both sides). Winning bettors receives a percentage of the pool based on what they put into it.

Levin said the idea for actually preceded the sale of

"I had wanted to do this for sometime, but we just didn't have the funds," Levin said. "I wanted something that wasn't fixed-odds or a betting exchange. It is like pari-mutuel wagering with the number of winning tickets being divided by the odds, and this could be the next big thing in online sports betting."

One of the appeals to is that bettors don't have to track odds to make sure they get the right price at the right time.

"With us the dividends will be market driven," Levin explained. "One doesn't need to know what the odds are when (he/she) gets in on the bet."

For the most part, Levin is foregoing traditional marketing channels and building the site by creating a massive affiliate network. "Our main method of marketing will be to create revenue-sharing partners," he said. "We are in no big rush, but the sooner the better. We have no model to go on, but we are breaking new ground and if we do a few big affiliate deals going it will be hard to stop the momentum."

Within the first month of operation, Levin created 280 different pools covering 188 events; many were created simply out of punter demand. provides a global service, with sporting events from North America and Europe offered through the pools. Nearly 80 percent of the pools are sports-related, but the concept isn't restricted to sports.

"A lot of sites focus on horseracing or just put the tote concept online," Levin said. "With pool betting we can add novelty bets, court trails, elections, awards ceremonies or anything else that has a defined outcome."

In conjunction with its launch, created pools on whether Sharon Osbourne would get her stolen jewels back before Christmas. The site also offered bets on whether former Hear'Say host Sharon Shaw would have her baby before Christmas.

Despite his longtime presence in the I-industry, Levin doesn't attribute the early success of to his experience at

"The contacts that I made in this industry are good to have but the experience I have as a portal owner isn't great because it is a whole new experience," he said. "It is a whole different business plan to go from portal owner to an operator."

A veteran of the industry, Levin has seen I-gaming mature into a multi-billion-dollar industry, and he still sees room for growth despite an overabundance of new sites.

"I am sure the number of new sites and competition probably stunts the growth of the industry somewhat," he said. "It stunts it, but it doesn't stifle it. And in the end, it just makes for a stronger and more viable industry. will be right in the middle of what lies ahead for online betting sites."

Taking a Dip in the Pool Business is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith