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Fantasy sports operator Underdog has unveiled GuardDog, an investment initiative that supports the growth and development of responsible gambling start-ups and tools.

Underdog Fantasy has committed an initial investment of $1m to kickstart GuardDog.

Underdog founder and co-CEO Jeremy Levine commented: “With GuardDog we want to spur innovation in responsible gaming and help push our whole industry forward.

“Underdog’s mission is to help American sports fans increase their enjoyment with sports. This can only be done if customers are playing responsibly and operators are operating responsibly. 

“We have adopted best in class standards around responsible gaming, but we want to go further. We want our whole industry to go further,” he added.

More than just financial support

GuardDog takes inspiration from renowned innovation hubs like Y Combinator and Techstars.

While the primary aim is to invest in RG start-ups, GuardDog will also offer comprehensive support to its selected participants. 

This includes monetary investment from Underdog, introductions to top investors, connections to leading advisers, mentors, and investors, as well as fast-track integration into the Underdog ecosystem.

“With GuardDog we’re not only investing in companies that we believe can create a positive impact in responsible gaming; we’re going to be doing all we can to help accelerate them,” Levine added.

The initiative has garnered support from prominent mentors, including RG advocate Brianne Doura-Schawohl, former FanDuel VP of RG Adam Warrington, former director of the Colorado Division Of Gaming Dan Hartman, former director of the Indiana Gaming Commission Sara Tait, and Chris Grove, partner at Acies Investments.

“The beauty of start-ups is you never know where the innovation will come from and what it will be,” said Levine.

“With GuardDog, we hope to create more innovation in this space; a space that we as an industry should all be doing a lot more in. I can’t wait to see what comes through GuardDog,” he added.

GuardDog’s launch coincides with the recent ban on pick’em-style fantasy sports games in New York, a ban that Underdog and PrizePicks had contested.

Additionally, last month, the Florida Gaming Control Commission issued cease and desist orders to several fantasy sports operators including Underdog Fantasy.

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