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A teenager plays the game Fortnite on an iPhone X in Billerica, Massachusetts, US, on August 24, 2020. Photo: EPA-EFE

A new invite-only iPhone app lets people gamble money on Fortnite and Call of Duty matches

  • The players must link to their bank accounts and agree on a wager before starting the game
  • The founders said the Covid-19 pandemic pushed them to create their idea for a betting app
Video gaming

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.

The app, first reported on by TechCrunch, will allow gamers to place wagers in one-on-one matches on Call of Duty and Fortnite while at home. 

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 is 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.

Esports athlete Tyler “Ninja” Blevins plays Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 during the Doritos Bowl 2018 at TwitchCon 2018 in California’s San Jose Convention Center on October 27, 2018. Photo: Getty Images

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 live-streaming service Twitch when they play the game. This allows others to watch the match and 1v1Me to monitor it to ensure it is 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 cannot wager on the match, the founder said. He added that the app only operates in the 48 US states where it is legal to wager on skill-based games. 

Before launching, Geranio and co-founder Alex Emmanuel raised US$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 US$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 US$150 billion per year by 2023.