Sports betting has been around since the creation of organized sports, and generally exists for every large sport. However, not all these means of wagering are legal. While there are legal, licensed organizations people go through to do their betting, there are just as many that are organizing illegal gambling and betting on the side. When new sports or forms of entertainment come into popularity, many of these unlicensed and unregulated organizations do too. Especially in the United States, where gambling regulations vary by state, this is problematic. This opens the door for underage gambling, scamming, and other problems that come with illegal betting. Despite the negative associations that can come from unorganized sports betting, when done right it can create a fun experience that enhances the game. Now, a Germany-based organization wants to bring that same thrill to video gaming … the right way.
Rahul Sood has been a part of the gaming industry for decades (Don’t know the name? Perhaps you know his products). During his early days in the industry, Rahul was part of the first PC gaming hardware manufacturing company called Voodoo. In 2006, he and his colleagues sold their hardwear company to HP, where it was renamed to Omen (oh, so you’ve heard of it?). Deciding he was not finished with making history in gaming hardware, Rahul was also an early investor in Razer. Yeah, this guy knows his stuff and knows how to pick a winner. So, where has Rahul put his sights next?
Years ago, Rahul and his friend started a small, for-fun betting platform for Call of Duty so that he and his friends could make friendly bets against each other in online matches. What he and his friend thought was just a small side project for their own entertainment … it quickly grew to a network of over 8,000 users. However, because Rahul and his friend lacked the necessary knowledge of regulations to run a betting platform, they shelved the project.
Fast forward several years … Rahul is working at Microsoft Ventures and helping build a game community company that Microsoft had invested in. It was then that Rahul met Karl Flores. Karl was the creator of this company and worked closely with Rahul for several years. A wagering and gaming enthusiast, Karl was fascinated with Rahul’s story of his previous venture to combine the two into a gambling platform for gaming. After working together for so long and reinvigorated in their passion for the cause, Rahul left Microsoft in 2014 to acquire Karl’s company and resurrect his company with Karl. They restarted and rebranded the combined project as Unikrn.
Unikrn is, what Rahul describes as, “sitting at the intersection of video games, betting, and blockchain technology.” Unikrn takes the consumer-first approach to creating a gambling platform. Everything about the platform is designed to make a fun, safe, and legal experience for the user. Unikrn is licensed and regulated by the Isle of Man, home to the Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC). This license covers live sports betting, live Esports, online casino, and skill betting on uMode, along with cryptocurrency and fiat … the first of its kind.
Although there are often issues with minors accessing online gambling, all users of Unikrn start off their verification process through presenting their government-issued identification. From there, they are walked through a strict verification process to ensure all members are using the platform legally in regards to their state regulations, national regulations, and even international regulations. When it comes to gambling, it doesn’t get safer than Unikrn.
Although betting is a pretty simple concept, how does one bet on gaming or Esports — and what makes this fun? Rahul explained that simply betting on competitions and big-name games is only the beginning of Unikrn. While you could, say, go and bet on the Overwatch League finals, or any other major Esports event, you can also bet on the not-so-big-matches.
Umode allows for users to connect their gaming accounts to your Unikrn, and bet on their own matches. Players can go play against friends or in a random lobby, and wager on whether or not they will win the match, how many kills they will get, how many times they’ll die — virtually any aspect of a game or match. Right now, players can only connect their accounts for League of Legends, Dota 2, and Fortnite … but Rahul assures that more are coming. He promises that Unikrn will eventually host all the major Esports games and leagues.
Last week, Unikrn expanded their platform with streamer betting and virtual betting. Streamer betting allows fans to tune in to their favorite streamer’s stream and place wagers on the outcomes of each match. For example, if I were to plug Ninja’s stream into Unikrn, I could bet on his Fornite matches and whether or not he will win the match, how many people he’ll outlive, the amount of kills he will get, and so on. Unikrn provides statistics to help guide users betting, using predictive analytics, AI trading bots, and other advanced analytical softwares. In addition to the big-name streamers like Ninja, you can even find your friend’s small streaming channel and place bets on them through Unikrn — the platform is for all shapes and sizes of streamers.
However, streamers aren’t live 24/7 for our betting pleasure … so that’s why Unikrn introduced virtual betting. Virtual betting recycles and shuffles old rounds from previous matches and allows viewers to make bets on the outcome based on a limited amount of information. So, I may be provided with the game and the name of the two teams along with some other smaller details about the match, and I will make my bets based on what I know and how I think the match will turn out — including all the exotics like death counts, kill streaks, etc. Then, my bets are locked in and the match plays out. It is a simple and fun way to allow for people to bet, even when their favorite streamers aren’t online. This virtual betting allows for a new bet about every two minutes.
While gambling often comes with negative connotations regarding addiction, gaming is no stranger to those stigmas. While, yes, both in excess can be overwhelming and cause life issues … however, when done correctly, they are a fun and engaging experience. Gambling allows the superfan to raise the stakes and add another level of interest in the game. While we as viewers are often passive, this gives us the ability to become active spectators. Esports and gaming fans are some of the most passionate fans in the world, and Unikrn allows those that want to to engage with their favorite games, streamers, and competitions on a deeper level. Unikrn is fascinating, not only from a business and an idea standpoint, but mostly in what it means for the future of gaming and Esports. With investors like Mark Cuban, Ashton Kutcher, and Elisabeth Murdoch (along with one of the greatest minds in the industry) Unikrn isn’t going anywhere any time soon. In fact, if you heard about Unikrn for the first time today, I’ll bet this won’t be the last.