Playbook Fusion: Melding Video Gaming, DFS and Sports Betting

Steve Rogers won’t claim full credit for the idea. But the founder and CEO of Playbook Fusion is confident he’s at least perfected it.

As a concept, the business-to-business studio set to debut in the United Kingdom next year would attract adult video gamers used to constructing and managing teams of real players on games like FIFA 23. The gamers would then bet on their squad against a real or computer-generated opponent. A licensed sportsbook would house the game, Playbook Fusion would supply the odds and use a random-number generator to produce outcomes.

Games when there’s no real games and a chance to bet on them.

If the idea managed the “much heavier lift” of gaining regulatory approval in the United States, Rogers said, a generation indoctrinated by daily fantasy sports would find a new way to monetize their sports acumen.

“The main benefit of these games that we’re developing are that they feel like you’ve got skin in the game, that you’ve got ownership,” Rogers said in an interview with Gaming Today. “I’m figuring out the best formation and then putting them into a game, getting rewards for progression. And also clearly part of it is for people to be able to gamble on that.

“As I gamble then, my progression in the game also gets better. We put a mechanic in the game whereby if you wager at $10, then your $10 will convert to some in-game currency that you can then use to spend on a better striker or a better defender. So there’s that linkage between real-money wagering and in-game development. It’s a really strong bond within the game.

“I think it’s quite unique what we’ve got here and I can’t wait to get these games out there in the hands of a good players.”

gaming and sports betting

Playbook Fusion’s Big Idea

Q: How did the idea for Playbook Fusion come about?

STEVE ROGERS: I’ve worked in the gambling sector for about just over 20 years or so. So I understand about regulated markets of gambling and how that kind of sphere works, sport betting, virtual sport, these kind of products.

And then completely separate, you look at the games industry where people have more connective tissue with what they’re doing: they’re building their teams, they’re managing their squads, they’re managing their virtual assets in games.

And obviously, people are playing on their PlayStation or Xbox. So it’s quite a deep level of engagement in the games industry that you don’t necessarily see in the gambling industry.

My vision was to fuse these two things together, to bring great minds from the games industry into the gambling area and see if we can create some more compelling gambling games that maybe are more engaging to some of the more traditional game types out there.

Inside the Game

Q: How does Playbook Fusion work?

STEVE ROGERS: It’s a single-person game. It’s not a separate app. It’s not a separate game. It’s not a [business-to-customer] offer.

The game will essentially be launched from the sportsbook. Let’s say you’re on DraftKings and you click Playbook Fusion Soccer, and the game launches on their website. You see your DraftKings wallet balance, and you are betting on the DraftKings ecosystem.

 I could just have my team and I submit my team to play and then get presented with all the odds on all the various potential outcomes that the score could be. And I can then wager on that. I click ‘Place bet,’ I launch the game, and then the game will reveal itself over 60 seconds.

And then I’ve either won or lost.

That’s the main game of when I’m playing against AI teams, other teams that the game puts me against.

And then the other mode is PVP where you and I could go on a say, “Brant, I’ll see you on Wednesday at three o’clock,’ and then we’ll have 30 minutes where we’re kind of playing each other and we can each gamble on each other’s team. So I could bet on your team, you could bet on my team, but it’s only me and you in that.

It’s not a game that we offer out to Joe down the road who can suddenly get on a website and see our game. It’s just me against you, and we can wager on ourselves or against each other.

Playbook Fusion to Debut in 2025 in Europe

Q: Who are the players?

STEVE ROGERS: The initial markets will be Europe. But Latin America is huge in this area. Brazil, especially, is a huge market where people bet so heavily on soccer that anything kind of soccer-related will land well.

In the US, I think it will land well because of a different reason: partly because fantasy sports predicated real sport. So everyone is used to that idea of building a team, managing a team, competing with their friends, entering tournaments where they get prizes.

In the UK that’s really small.

Part of our target audience with Playbook Fusion, we think we could give the fantasy player an opportunity to use their skill and judgment about real sport, but on a 24-hours-a-day basis, not just four months of the year or seven months of the year. You feed in that kind of demand of the fantasy player as well.

So I think there is an opportunity for the US, but from a legislature point of view, obviously, that takes time getting licensed and all that. So that isn’t in my plans for 2025 unless something changes massively.

Global Expansion Possibilities

Q: Can this be tailored for an American audience?

STEVE ROGERS: All the logic in the base game of managing a team, managing a squad, picking players, getting rewards for doing well, progressing through leagues, getting promotion, all that kind of end-game economy is going to be standard across all the sports that we develop.

So it’s 90% generic across all sports. And then the 10% piece is the soccer-specific stuff or the basketball-specific stuff.  Obviously, they each have their own individual aspects.

There’ll be some element of in-game currency. So the in-game currency will be usable across all the sports.

So if I’m paying Playbook Fusion soccer, I’ll be able to use my progress bar from there to play Playbook Fusion basketball or Playbook Fusion football. The idea is to build a portfolio, but basketball is a world sport, much wider than American football is because it’s massive across Europe, it’s massive in Latin American, it’s massive in Asia.

So basketball would most likely be sport number two.

Inside Licensing Playbook Fusion in the US

Q: Will it be considered sports betting or something else by law?

STEVE ROGERS: In Europe, it’s an RNG, it’s a set of probabilities and it’d be classified as a virtual sport. They have their own discrete category of regulation. They’ll generally have discrete virtual sports classifications.

In places where that doesn’t exist, they’ll generally treat it like a casino game just because it’s an RNG, it’s not a real sport in that there’s not real athletes running around the pitch. They’ll say it’s a random number-generator, therefore they’ll classify it as a casino game.

When we come to the US, what’s happened is that state regulators have looked in two different ways:

  • Nevada and Massachusetts regulate this type of game as a sport, even though it’s an RNG. But they’re kind of the outliers.
  • New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, the other big Igaming states to regulate, they’ll regulate it as a casino game. They’ll say it’s a random number-generator there to determine the outcome. Therefore, it doesn’t matter that it looks like a sport. It doesn’t matter that you bet on it like a sport, essentially it’s a casino game.

Playbook Fusion Is Not the Latest Attempt at eSports Gambling in the US

Q: Is this eSports betting?

STEVE ROGERS: It’s not like eSports. There’s no actual players playing the game with their Xbox or PlayStation controllers. Essentially, the start of it is a strategy game.

I will build my team of players just like I would in a fantasy sports scenario. They’re not fictional players. They’re real players who play real soccer.

I’ve got 16 of them in my squad, and I’m creating my 11-man team and I’m figuring out what strategy and how best to play them. I’m the manager of that team, essentially. Then I submit my team into play, and it will play a game either against another competitor who’s playing the game on a PVP, or it will submit it and I’ll just play an AI team. But I’ve got no involvement in the actual gameplay.

The game will play and the computer will determine who wins.

If I’ve got a good team, and let’s say you’ve got a bad team, the computer is more likely to determine that my team wins because I’ve got a better squad. So the computer, while it could pick you, is more likely to pick me. It’s probability-driven. The results are determined by a computer and there is no gameplay.

It is very much not like eSports where a human is driving the characters around the screen.

Playbook Fusion vs. eSports Integrity Concerns

video game sports betting

Q: How can you guarantee a fair game?

STEVE ROGERS: The ability for a regulator to validate whether this game is true, fair and random is literally testing the RNG with the source code and seeing whether those bits of software deliver true, fair, and random results over a relevant curve.

While there’s human involvement in building squads and players and teams and using the skill, as soon as you get to the gambling element, the RND takes over and we’ll say ‘This team won and the score was 3-0.’ No human has had any involvement in that.

It’s just a set of probabilities. So it’s much easier to certify than eSports where you’ve always got the integrity question about ‘Is that player really trying hard? Did they really miss that goal?” It’s always got that cloud over it, rightly or wrong.

Origin Story

Q: Has anyone tried this before?

STEVE ROGERS: I’d like to claim that. I think the interesting thing for me is that in the games industry, you create these compelling games like Madden and NBA 2K … they don’t want to press into the gambling sphere because obviously, they’ve got a younger demographic of players, so they can’t be seen to be a gambling game.

And any kind of notion that those games are used for gambling, they generally don’t enjoy, because of that reason.

Virtual sports is still quite niche. So putting those two things together felt – the more I talk to people – was like, ‘Yeah, this is really unique.’

I think it probably isn’t a hundred percent unique, but I just think I’m in a weird situation where I’ve got my experience from gambling, I’ve got people like [executive creative advisor] Santiago [Jaramillo] who’s been at EA and developed things like FIFA Ultimate Team and then was at Scopely and developed Monopoly Go! and these kind of games. So the fusion of those two things together really does feel quite unique when we talk about gamification, persistence and rewards and all these kinds of things.

I can’t claim it’s unique, but it feels pretty unique to me and that’s why it makes me so excited to run this company and see what we can do.

About the Author
Brant James

Brant James

Lead Writer
Brant James is a lead writer who covers the sports betting industry and legislation at Gaming Today. An alum of the Tampa Bay Times,, espnW,, and USA Today, he's covered motorsports and the NHL as beats. He also once made a tail-hook landing on an aircraft carrier with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and rode to the top of Mt. Washington with Travis Pastrana. John Tortorella has yelled at him numerous times.

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