I never understood how this country can front such a negative collective opinion on “gambling” in all forms, while simultaneously being so firmly rooted in concepts like private insurance and investment banking. Especially when you consider something like the PILE of forgone tax revenue associated with the gub’ment’s refusal to embrace online poker. The world is just an infinite matrix of probabilities, my friend, and if you can handicap them better than the rest of us, you just may have a shot at my Genius Hall of Fame. But a much easier way to get there is by inventing the platform for handicappers in the first place.
Ultrinsic CEO Steven Wolf insists this is not online gambling, which is technically illegal in the U.S., because wagers with Ultrinsic involve skill. “The students have 100% control over it, over how they do,” said Wolf. “Other people’s stuff you bet on – your own stuff you invest in.”
Here’s how the website works: A student registers, uploads his or her schedule and gives Ultrinsic access to official school records. The New York-based site then calculates odds based on the student’s college history and any information it can dig up on the difficulty of each class, the topic and other factors. The student decides how much to wager up to a cap starting at $25 and increases with use. Just as Las Vegas sports books set odds on football games, Ultrinsic will pay you top dollar for A’s, a little less for the more likely outcome of a B average or better, and so on. You can also wager you’ll fail a class by buying what Ultrinsic calls “grade insurance.”
Here’s hoping Steven Wolf got an A in statistics, because the fate of the site will ultimately lie with the actuaries involved. He does have another advantage though – psychology. Betting on yourself rather than sports or other props is a different animal, since most people are likely to overestimate their own ability. Me? I know exactly how mediocre I am. That’s why I could have cleaned him out betting the farm on B’s across the board. But who knows? Maybe this site could offer that extra incentive you need to go from B to A. Or buy some insurance against an F, then use the payout to get drunk enough to tell that anatomy professor where to stick his red sharpie.
Filed under: Entrepreneurship, True Genius | Tagged: actuary, bet, college, courses, gambling, grades, insurance, probability, professor, put it all on black, statistics, steven wolf, Ultrinsic, wager |