Esports wagering is in its infancy, but Rahul Sood got on board early. His Unikrn company is the undisputed king of esports betting, with major investors like billionaire Mark Cuban, star of CNBC’s Shark Tank and owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks. Esports is a burgeoning opportunity for the casino industry, but it’s still unclear about how to take advantage of it. Sood discusses how Unikrn operates, using many different titles and player skills. He talks about how the company handles its bets, why cryptocurrency is part of the Unikrn strategy, and how it could work in conjunction with the casinos. He spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros at the Unikrn offices in Las Vegas in October.
GGB: Tell us what Unikrn is all about.
Rahul Sood: Unikrn is a global esports bookmaker. We create our own odds. We permit live betting on our platform. We’re a “fan first” company. We embedded ourselves into the esports community. We create content like ESPN would for sports. We own teams, we run tournaments… We’re really a participant in the community rather than just a betting operator. And most importantly, I think, we’re the only wagering company on earth that’s built entirely on blockchain. We can accept 9,000 transactions per second, and we’re soon going to be able to offer our platform over multiple countries and accept bets in multiple currencies.
And you produce your own currency as well, correct?
Yes, back in 2015 we introduced Unikoin and created UnikoinGold last year. UnikoinGold can be used in a number of different ways. It’s not only tied to wagering. Customers can come to our platform and connect their gaming accounts—League of Legends, DotA, Fortnite, whatever—and start playing games and collecting tokens. They can win tokens, digital items and jackpots. And then we use UnikoinGold as a betting bonus. There’s lots of ways we can go with this using our ecosystem. In the wagering space, I think we’re light years ahead of anyone else with this.
Can you bet on teams or is it head-to-head betting?
It’s both. You can either bet on professional esports teams or you can bet on yourself when you go up against a friend. We do buy-in tournaments at MGM, for example, where you buy in for $15 and can win a prize, like a poker tournament.
What regulatory bodies have given you a license, and how do they oversee your activities?
We’ve worked with the strictest regulators in the world in Australia, the Isle of Man, Malta and the U.K. We’re about to get licensed to take wagers and for our cryptocurrency activities. And it’s frankly very hard to get, because you have to show them your AML and your KYC programs on the platform, and we’ll be the first in the world to accomplish that for cryptocurrency.
Esports is quite bifurcated because of the various publishers of the games. How do you work with so many different entities?
Right now, it’s kind of a spectrum. You have some that willingly share their data with us and think about the future of the space and others that say they can’t do anything because of the optics of gambling. When we built Unikrn, we built our platform to be completely publisher-agnostic. It doesn’t matter what the publisher does, we can put a wagering experience on top of all the popular games.