Entain, an online sportsbook operator in the United Kingdom, has reportedly agreed to buy American esports betting company Unikrn Incorporated. Esports betting has become much more popular over the past few years, with more operators now offering odds on major tournaments and events.
According to a report published by the Financial Times, the London-listed firm revealed that the acquisition would cost around £50 million ($69.1 million) in total. This fee will include costs associated with further developing the acquisition’s platform in order to better exploit the esports market, that is valued at around £1.4 billion.
Entain, formerly known as GVC Holdings, is already responsible for a plethora of online casino and sports betting domains, including Ladbrokes.com, Bwin.com, Coral.co.uk, and Sportingbet.com. Aside from these, the company also operates the Ladbrokes and Coral-branded high street bookmakers in the UK. As restrictions in key European countries tighten, the corporation will now become the first major gambling enterprise to make a significant move into the esports and video game industry.
Why Is the Esports Betting Market So Valuable?
According to the EsportsHeadlines.com, esports generated roughly £141 million in advertising income in the United States alone last year, up 37% over the previous year’s £103 million. The global interactive gaming business could be valued at more than £14 billion by the end of 2025, according to Entain, as it becomes increasingly appealing to the tech-savvy ‘Generation Z’ group.
At the same time it announced its impending acquisition of Unikrn Incorporated, Entain reportedly revealed that it had hired Justin Dellario. As the former esports head for live streaming pioneer Twitch, Dellario was hired to run Entain’s new video game industry expansion. This expansion looks set to capture the attention of younger demographics while also appealing to a wide range of people who might not have been interested in betting previously.
Jette Nygaard-Andersen, who took over as CEO of the Isle of Man-based company from Shay Segev in January, reportedly referred to the company’s newest hire as “a bit of a rock star”. Dellario has more than fifteen years of experience working in esports, making him a prominent figure in the industry.
According to Nygaard-Andersen:
“Esports is a community, and the way to succeed here is to grow a business that is already in that community. This is our starting point for building a fully integrated platform for esports betting.”
The market for esports betting is rapidly growing as more sports betting sites begin to offer odds on events, including ESL One, ESL Intel Extreme Masters and the League of Legends Championship Series. You can read more about the development of esports betting here. With Entain looking to expand its presence, particularly in new markets, a move into esports betting makes a lot of sense.
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