Entain, the UK-based sports betting giant, has completed the acquisition of the esports betting and skill-based wagering platform Unikrn in a reported $68m deal.
This merger sees Entain solidify its plans for an esports wagering platform which the operator hopes to launch to customers in 2022.
Entain will utilize Unikrn’s full suite of products and services such as U-Mode, a feature that allows gamers to bet on their own ranked matches while streaming via the video-game streaming platform Twitch. This feature is powered by AI that updates your odds in real-time.
The 50 person team at Unikrn will be headed by Justin Dellario, who previously held the role of managing director of esports at Twitch.
Dellario will be tasked with leading Entain’s expansion into the nascent esports betting market while enhancing the company’s presence in the interactive entertainment space.
“Entain is all about creating exciting and innovative products for our customers. With Unikrn, we’ll now be able to offer competitive gamers and esports fans alike rewarding experiences surrounding the games and events they love,” said Dellario.
In a statement, Entain highlighted the size of the esports industry, claiming that 450m people aged 18-35 describe themselves as gamers. The sports betting giant believes a large percentage of these gamers have strong potential to become new customers.
The non-profit arm of Entain, the Entain Foundation, has previously operated in the esports world. The charity, in partnership with the Counter-Strike Professional Players Association, pledged to provide education and support to players at potential risk of problem gambling.
Entain is currently subject to a $22bn takeover bid from the US-based sports betting group DraftKings.
In a statement regarding the takeover, the Entain board said: “The board of Entain strongly believes in the future prospects of the company underpinned by its leading market positions, world-class management team and industry-leading technology.
“The company has a strong track record of growth and runway for further significant growth as set out in the capital markets day on 12th August, with the potential for its total addressable market to grow by more than three times to $160bn.”