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The latest esports betting venture to brave the choppy waters of initial coin offerings (ICOs) is Luckbox, an Isle of Man-based startup which the chief executive admits has “strapped itself to the rocket” of token issuance.
Lars Lien is the chief executive at Luckbox and he has form when it comes to the gambling space.
Previously on the operational side at PokerStars, he has also been a self-confessed obsessive gamer since childhood.
His initial intention was to persuade his previous employer to make the move into esports itself a few years back. But along came new owner Amaya, and that opportunity got subsumed by wider developments affecting the company.
One voluntary redundancy later, and after a short spell working as chief operating officer at esports media site GosuGamers, Lien was ready to take up the Luckbox opportunity.
“I wanted to build an esports platform,” he says. “And it just so happens that my experience means I have helped to build something unique.”
He teamed up with fellow PokerStars veteran Mike Stevens to put his ideas into practice and also recreate what he terms as the “Scheinberg ethic” of business.
In esports this translates into “rising above” the practices of regular sports betting operators. “They aren’t catering for the esports audience,” he says. “This is a very different demographic. You need a different product.”
He says that Luckbox is above all a social experience with achievements, goals, (legitimate) loot boxes and social interaction thrown in.
“Do the right thing and you will reap the benefit,” he adds.
“I want to create something that I want to use. You don’t need big margins.”
As Lien admits, the esports-only offering is already a well-trodden path with Unikrn and ESP.bet having already staked out claims. And similarly to that pair, Luckbox has opted for the token route to gaining liquidity and players.
It is a decision which comes at a tricky time for the ICO market as a whole. The viciously fluctuating price of Bitcoin has had ramifications for the token markets where many of the offerings are based on Bitcoin as the buy-in currency.
As with Unikrn before it — which raised money last year via the issuing of Unikoin Gold tokens — Luckbox has enticed users to buy into a utility token to be called LuckCash and has already raised $1.8 million worth of Bitcoin through a private sale.
Now it is hoping to double down with a crowd sale planned for February. Alongside the LuckCash tokens, the company also plans post-sale to use LuckProfit tokens, which will entitle holders to a share of profits.
The company says it hopes to raise up to a further $20 million via the crowd sale and will build towards a product launch in the third quarter of this year.
Despite the current volatility, Lien says he hopes it will be understood that the Luckbox tokens have a definite use case.
“We hope our customers will want to use the tokens on the site and that will encourage stability,” he says.
It is still early days and “price discovery” is yet to happen, but he willingly admits that in a sense Luckbox has “strapped itself to a rocket” which the company hopes “doesn’t blow up.”
Indeed, he makes the point that the ICO market has Darwinian properties right now, with the winners yet to emerge.
Luckbox has already done well enough to take its initial steps out of the esports ICO primordial soup. It has been said before that similarly to crowdfunding, an ICO done properly can, in effect, represent a marketing initiative that can help drive early adopters to any given site. Luckbox is the latest firm to the theory.
David Sargeant, an online gambling digital innovation expert who has been appointed as an adviser to the Luckbox board, said the various buzzwords involved when describing the company would “make the average bookie’s eyes bleed.”
“They are tackling head on the challenges that the online gaming industry needs to take notice of,” he added. “Luckbox will be targeted at the esports generation with products and styles of engagement those consumers understand.”