Paid fantasy sports operator Underdog has raised $35.0m (£29.0m/$34.5m) during a Series B funding round to support its plans to expand into sports betting.

The round included funds and accounts managed by BlackRock as well as Acies Investments and valued the business at $485.0m.

BlackRock and Acies join existing investors including billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban, professional basketball player Kevin Durant, American football star Odell Beckham Jr, and former Paddy Power Betfair chief executive Breon Corcoran.

Underdog said the funds would go towards its plans to begin building licensed sports betting products, while it also intends to hire more than 100 new employees as part of its wider expansion plans.

“Since the start of Underdog, we’ve believed that building quality products and putting customers first is a winning recipe,” Underdog president and chairman Jeremy Levine said.

“We’re excited to continue to innovate and build new experiences from the ground up in fantasy, sports betting, and adjacent spaces. This funding round gives us the firepower to continue to build; and build we will.”

Acies Investments’ co-founder and general partner Chris Grove added: “While the typical sportsbook is spending over $500 to acquire a customer, Underdog is bringing in new users for a fraction of that. Underdog’s product is leading to competitive advantages as Underdog’s customer acquisition and retention success is best in class.

“Underdog’s success is driven by the company’s focus on building new, innovative games and delivering amazing customer experiences. As the company moves into licensed sports betting, I believe the unique focus on product and experience will reshape the industry.”

Plans to move into the sports betting sector were first announced last year, with Underdog in September acquiring sportsbook technology platform Goat Gaming.

Goat Gaming supplies risk management technology to cryptocurrency gambling operator the Coingaming group and its Sportsbet.io brand. In addition, it offers odds creation, account management and event management technology.

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