Entain has completed its acquisition of the assets of esports betting and skill-based wagering operator Unikrn, the company announced on Tuesday. The deal is expected to pave the way for Entain to launch “innovative new esports products” for its customers in 2022, according to a press release. The acquisition terms have not been disclosed.
The sports betting and gaming operator has bought the technology, products, platform and brand from Unikrn. This, together with its 50-strong international team, “will spearhead its launch on a global scale.” Justin Dellario, who recently joined Entain from Twitch as Managing Director of Esports, will lead the push into the new market as part of a greater drive into interactive entertainment.
Founded in 2014, Seattle-based Unikrn is an esports company with a specific focus on wagering and gaming, and has developed technologies in the fields of virtual esports, streamer betting and bet on yourself products, as well as more traditional options such as esportsbook.
The Unikrn team is proudly taking the next step and joining @EntainGroup. Thanks to all of our customers, fans, staff, partners & investors for making this possible.— Unikrn (@UnikrnCo) August 12, 2021
This transition will come with some service interruptions. More details: https://t.co/nLo8Zz6qLs pic.twitter.com/EfkKYFwAea
The operator offers a suite of products and services which includes U-Mode, which “stands out in the market” for enabling gamers to bet on their own ranked matches in competitive video game titles. It is also known for Streamer Bet, AI-powered real-time updating odds for betting on Twitch streams.
"Entain is all about creating exciting and innovative products for our customers,” Justin Dellario said. “With Unikrn, we'll now be able to offer competitive gamers and esports fans alike rewarding experiences surrounding the games and events they love."
As esports establishes itself as a mainstream sport, with over 450 million gamers aged 18-35, Entain believes many of them have “strong potential to become new customers” in other areas of its business. According to the Ladbrokes and Coral owner, video gamers are more than four times more likely to participate in sports betting and iGaming than others in the same demographic.
In a statement earlier this year, Entain estimated that together the esports wagering and social casino-related markets could add an incremental $20 billion+ in addressable markets “by 2025”. “The worlds of media, entertainment and gaming are converging. Customers want a richer experience, including more content, interactive experiences, new and free-to-play games, as well as social content,” said Entain in that press release.
Entain’s expansion within the esports vertical is accompanied by safer gaming initiatives and player protections for its new customers, says the company. Its not-for-profit Entain Foundation has forged partnerships with external organizations to provide education and support to players at potential risk, including the Counter-Strike Professional Players Association.