Entain, the betting giant and owner of Ladbrokes and Coral bookmakers, is making some huge moves into the esports and esports betting industry. They have acquired the US based esports betting group Unikrn.
Entain believes that the esports and interactive gaming market as a whole could be worth more than $20bn by 2025.[UPDATE: Unikrn have ceased operations while the transition is ongoing. They have asked all customers to withdraw their funds.]
This is a major move for Entain. They are absolutely dominant in the British and European betting markets but shift towards the US and a younger demographic hints at their need to diversify.
They are certainly diversifying. Unikrn is one of the most popular esports only betting sites in the world. We have often covered them for their bonus offers and odds as well as their many innovations in the esports betting industry.
The acquisition has yet to be finalised, but it should come into effect later this year pending completion. We don’t have the exact figures for the acquisition, but in a press release, Entain announced that they are planning to invest more than £50 million in developing their esports platform. Presumably this figure will include the purchase price of Unikrn.
The new Head of Esports
As well as acquiring Unikrn, Entain has also made an important appointment. They have named Justin Dellario, previously head of esports at the streaming company Twitch, to head a new esports division.
He will oversee Unikrn and any future moves that Entain are planning to make in the esports and esports betting industry. Dellario is an esports veteran with more than 15 years’ experience in the industry. The organisational structure of the new appointment makes it clear that they see esports as the future. Dellario will report into Sameer Deen who recently joined as their Chief Strategy Officer and President of New Ventures.
Comment from Entain CEO
Jette Nygaard-Andersen, Entain’s CEO, commented:
“Entain has built a powerful platform combining our industry-leading technology, people, and capabilities that are driving significant growth in our existing markets, including the US, but also enables us to grow into new and emerging markets and opportunities related to our core areas of expertise. Our platform enables us to meet the evolving needs of our customers as we capitalize on the convergence of media, entertainment, and gaming and extend into interactive entertainment. All together this means the markets we address have the potential to be several times larger than today.”
“One exciting opportunity is the growing esports skill-based wagering market. We are building the first scalable platform to address this market and I am delighted that Justin Dellario is joining us to lead our growth in this new area.”
“By leveraging the opportunities in front of us, focusing on the customer and expanding our acquisition funnel by creating powerful customer engagement flywheel effects, we have many years of growth ahead that will drive significant incremental value for our stakeholders.”
2020 was the second year in a row that Unikrn has been awarded Best Esports Operator of the Year at the EGR Operator Awards. The company began to win these awards in 2019 after they started operating under a self-owned licence. It makes sense that the company would dominate the esports betting scene, they are the longest running esports betting operator and maintain a large market share of the US esports betting scene.
In fact, Unikrn has invested heavily in the technology and innovation needed to bring esports betting to a more widestream audience. They offer services like their UMode, a service that allows players across the world to bet on their own ranked matches in some of the world’s most competitive titles, and their real-time updating odds for betting on Twitch streams.
These innovations also won the company another award in early 2020, the EGR Wagering Innovation of the Year. Entain has made the right decision to acquire Unikrn, they have bought into the absolute top level of the esports betting industry.
During the transition period while Unikrn is being sold to Entain, Unikrn have announced that they are ceasing operations. When a customer trys to login to the website, they are greeted with a splash page asking them to withdraw their funds immediately.
All of the withdrawals of funds will be processed by the 12th of September 2021. They have also taken pains to remind their users that they are not going away for good. They will be coming back with the support of an international betting and gambling giant.