Chris Adams, driving back from the beach in his car, hears a radio ad for someone selling guaranteed sports picks.
These assurances are not rare. For instance, former World Series of Poker winner Cory Zeidman was arrested just last month for making a similar promise.
At the time, Adams, who grew up in Towson, was an investment banker in Columbia, Md., and he quickly realized the similarities between his profession and the commercial he was listening to.
The difference, however, was key.
The investment banking world has a ton of oversight. Adams had to go through several hurdles in his previous profession, including fingerprinting, background checks and compliance.
Thanks to these experiences, he saw a troubling future in the sports betting space. But he also had an idea to fix it.
The minute Adams returned home from his beach trip, he opened up the trunk of his car, pulled out a folding chair and got to work. It was from there that Maryland-based SharpRank was born.
“That is what we are here to prevent,” Adams recently said in regards to the above arrest on the For the Love of Sports podcast. “That light bulb just kind of went off. We went digging and tried to find somebody doing that (oversight), and there was no one.
“There was no one wearing the sheriff’s hat or the sheriff’s badge in the wild west. And so, we just built it. … That’s the role we play and serve the market.”
‘A very different type of sports betting market’
The mission of the company is to serve as an independent rating agency for sharp bettors. SharpRank will collect published picks (or sharps can submit bets voluntarily) and provide a ranking. All in all the company’s algorithm doesn’t only look at the accuracy of someone’s picks.
“We look at about 7 different metrics for our risk profile,” Adams, who holds the role of founder and CEO at SharpRank, told PlayMaryland.
Its role is two-fold:
- Casual bettors can look up a sharp and determine if they are someone they want to follow.
- Sharps themselves can publish their ranking to prove their credibility.
When asked about the best-case scenario for SharpRank, Adams imagines seeing all sharps publishing their picks for transparency. In their articles or on their Twitter accounts, there would be a clear SharpRank badge showing that their picks can be trusted as both accurate and independent from any sportsbook.
“It allows media properties, individuals, etc. to say, ‘Don’t take my word for it. This is a third party’s view of who I am as a sports bettor,’” Adams added.
On top of that, there is another benefit to collecting these picks. Adams wants to help sportsbooks target promo offers or help hire personnel that makes responsible wagers.
Adams started raising money last year and initially brought in $1.4 million. He recently expanded the company’s seed round money to $2.5 million, with the potential to raise even more.
According to Business Journals, “the company plans to use the funding to continue to enhance its data science and technical infrastructure, along with testing how its product meets current market demand.”
SharpRank sees a betting space in need of oversight
This is not just meant for independent sharps but with those affiliated with a specific sportsbook. BetMGM has The Roar, DraftKings has DraftKings Nation, FanDuel has The Duel, and so on and so forth. SharpRank hopes to keep these articles and authors honest when it comes to their predictions.
“Content could push public and dollars at a certain side that the sportsbook seems/wants the people on,” Adams said.
While Adams would prefer a metaphorical wall between content providers and sportsbooks, he sees his company as a form of oversight so bettors can see whether they can trust the predictions made on these sites.
Thoughts on Maryland mobile sports betting
On the Maryland mobile sports betting front, Adams chooses to remain patient.
“I’m gonna give the benefit of the doubt to the vision makers,” Adams said. He later added that “[t]he timeline is less important as having to go back through the process of amending what has been put in place.”
Currently, Marylanders are waiting on the state’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission to complete a disparity study. This study, which is being conducted by the law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister, is meant to show potential hurdles for minority- or women-owned businesses from getting into sports betting.
The delay in finishing this study has caused some in the industry to be pessimistic about a potential Fall 2022 launch. Caesars CEO Tom Reeg stated in early May that “I’m skeptical Maryland launches mobile (sports betting) in 2022.”
Even though SharpRank is available everywhere, they are excited about Maryland’s mobile launch, hopefully, to come before the NFL season.