Online sports trivia game has a local link | AspenTimes.com
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Online sports trivia game has a local link

Eben Harrell
Aspenite Bruce Kallenberg has partnered with ESPN.com to offer TriviaShootout, an online game with cash prizes of up to $5,000. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.
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An Aspen resident has partnered with ESPN.com to offer an online trivia game with cash prizes of up to $5,000. Bruce Kallenberg, who has lived in Aspen’s east end for 12 years, said the game is the first of its kind and promises to tap into a multibillion-dollar online gambling and fantasy league industry. The game, TriviaShootout, offers several sports trivia contests with questions on basketball, baseball and football history. It can be accessed through ESPN.com’s fantasy page.

While online gambling is illegal by federal law, TriviaShootout has gone ahead despite its cash pay-outs because the game is categorized as “predominantly a game of skill.” Although Kallenberg decided not to tackle ambiguous gambling laws in five states, he is optimistic enough trivia buffs and gamblers will play in the remaining states to make it successful.”Sports fans tend to also be gamblers. So we’ve found a legal way to tap into that market,” he said.The 64-year-old former Wall Street executive said the idea for the game came as he was recovering from two hip-replacement surgeries in Aspen five years ago.”The hottest thing on TV at the time was ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.’ I also knew there was a growing online gambling industry. It seemed to be timely,” he said.

The game, which debuted on ESPN’s site in December, has faced several stumbling blocks since Kallenberg tried to get it off the ground four years ago. It was first launched independently in 2001 – a day before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Kallenberg’s investors pulled out, and the game was shopped around until ESPN picked it up last year.The site offers several contests: a speed game in which the winner correctly answers six questions in the shortest amount of time; a “hotstreak” game in which the winner answers the most consecutive questions correctly; and a game that ranks top-five performances over a 24-hour period. Prizes range from $1 to $5,000 and will likely grow as play increases. Profit to Kallenberg and ESPN.com comes from monthly subscription fees.Unique to the game, according to Kallenberg, is that it offers three skill levels. All players enter as rookies, but major trivia buffs are separated into their own groups, so you don’t have to be an expert to play.

Kallenberg, who says he didn’t even know how to turn on a computer monitor four years ago, now oversees the game from computers in his Aspen apartment. He and his two East Coast-based partners have a one-year pilot deal with ESPN.”Basically, I get to play God from my apartment,” he said. “I’m still tinkering with the game and trying to make it as appealing as possible.”The game can be accessed at ESPN.com’s fantasy page. A free 30-day trial is available for users for the next month.Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com


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