Tappp, a payment technology company backed by franchise owners and prominent VCs, has raised $10 million from a group that includes Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca, Vegas Golden Knights limited partner Peter Tomozawa, and early DraftKings investor Accomplice.
The company, which has now raised more than $21 million, is looking to capitalize on the increased blending of sports betting and sports media, particularly in the U.S., where the nascent gambling industry is spreading state by state and attracting billions in handle each month.
Alongside the new capital, Tappp on Tuesday announced a new multiyear deal with Major League Rugby and The Rugby Network, which will mark the gambling product’s official launch. Tappp will enable rugby fans watching games to seamlessly wager on-screen with sportsbook partners, a way to show off new capabilities as the startup looks to partner with more operators, and more broadcasters.
Further down the line, Tappp hopes to adapt that technology to include more purchases, such as apparel or food.
“Our long-term vision for this is that we want to make your screen—your tablet, your TV, your PC— your new point of sale,” Tappp founder and CEO Sandy Agarwal said in an interview. “That’s your new cash register.”
The company’s prior investors include Elysian Park Ventures, the firm backed by the owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers; Dan Gilbert-backed Courtside Ventures; and the family of Adidas founder Adi Dassler. Agarwal declined to comment on the company’s valuation following the funding.
Tappp’s roots are in payments—the company is the official partner for MLB.TV pre-paid cards that give fans the ability to watch out-of-market games live or on-demand. It recently partnered with BetMGM to sell pre-paid cards that bettors could use to fund their accounts, the start of a broader push into sports betting.
For streams on the The Rugby Network, Tappp will act as a payment middleman of sorts, using APIs from partnering sportsbooks (like PlayUp, for example), to display live odds and active bets on top of the live feed. Bettors can place wagers there, without leaving the stream, while Tappp checks the user’s location, the sportsbook balance, and executes the transaction. Tappp shares in the revenue generated, said Agarwal, who was founding partner at Enpocket, a mobile ad platform that Nokia purchased in 2007.
Pairing live sports broadcasts and live betting is a major priority for sportsbooks and media companies, but tech hurdles have made the perfect version difficult to attain. Some live odds change within seconds, so companies like Tappp can have the best tech possible, but they’re still affected by the lags fans experience because of the limits in their own homes.
Rugby in the U.S. presents a convenient opportunity to showcase Tappp’s new offering. Major League Rugby is now in its fifth season as the premier professional North American league, and while some matches are available on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, many are available to stream on The Rugby Network, in which MLR is a partner. That close relationship between league and media network makes it easier to integrate this technology.
The $10 million round was led by Accomplice, venture fund Verance Capital, and sports tech VC ADvantage. Tappp’s board includes Accomplice co-founder Ryan Moore, Verance Capital founder Lyle Ayes and ADvantage partner Jeremy Pressman.