FTSE 100 company and one of the largest sports betting and gaming groups Entain has purchased US-betting platform Unikrn, officially marking their arrival into the esports scene. (Image: Valve @Dota2)
Looking to build the “first scalable platform”
Entain, a behemoth billion dollar wagering company, is entering the esports scene through the acquisition of US-based esports betting group Unikrn. Entain – who owns the British Ladbrokes and Coral bookmaker – said they plan to build a new platform for “skill-based wagering” using Unikrn’s technology. Entain’s CEO Jette Nygaard-Andersen said it will be the “first scalable platform” to address the esports market.
Unikrn was founded in November 2014, and is an innovative betting operator that allows its users to bet on themselves, offering rewards for every win they achieve in ranked play. Success on the platform also rewards users with Unikoins, which can be redeemed to participate in tournaments and giveaways.
Unikrn secured funding of $10 million back in 2015, with investors including Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban and Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher. Two years later in 2017, it raised $31 million after launching an initial coin offering (ICO). Fast forward to 2021 and it is now one of the stalwarts of the esports betting scene.
Entain believe esports represents an exciting growth opportunity for their business. “The worlds of media, entertainment and gaming are converging,” said Entain in their press release. “Customers want a richer experience, including more content, interactive experiences, new and free to play games, as well as social content.”
The mobile gaming market is an area where Entain said there is clearly opportunity, and they estimated that together the esports wagering and social casino related markets could add an incremental $20bn+ in addressable markets by 2025 for their business.
“One exciting opportunity is the growing esports skill-based wagering market,” said Jette Nygaard-Andersen, Entain’s CEO. “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.”
Esports veteran Justin Dellario to join Entain as Head of Esports
In order to ensure a sharp focus on esports, Entain have appointed Justin Dellario as its new Head of Esports. Justin Dellario has been a key figure in the esports industry, working as VP of Global Esports at Twitch for the last five years. Prior to his excellent work at Twitch, Justin Dellario was also the Head of Global Esports at Razer.
“I couldn’t be more excited to embark on this next chapter of my esports career with Entain,” said Justin Dellario to Esports.gg.
“The opportunity to continue working at the intersection of media and interactive entertainment while building infrastructure for esports is everything I’m passionate about. I look forward to sharing more in the months to come.”
Justin Dellario will report into Sameer Deen, who recently joined as Chief Stategy Officer and President of New Ventures.
“Justin joins from Twitch, the world’s leading live streaming platform for gamers, and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in both esports content and operational delivery,” said Entain.
The company is aiming to make an impact in the highly competitive United States market, and is looking to achieve a market share of 20-25%. “We expect we will grow from around $6bn today to around $32bn over the long term,” said Entain.
Entain’s upcoming involvement in the esports industry is an exciting one, and will like likely have a significant impact. You can read more about their announcement here.