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The sudden lack of sports around the globe has not been kind to US sportsbook operators.
It means the race is now on for alternative forms of content. Legal Sports Report caught up with Rahul Sood, CEO of esports betting operator Unikrn, to find out what the sector could offer.
Sood: Sportsbooks are building content around niche sports, like darts, at the minute, so yes, there is certainly new demand for esports. The world is changing.
While sports are only on hold temporarily, the long-term effect on entertainment consumption will be much more profound. Already, we’re seeing performers doing concerts from their homes and Universal (Pictures) putting out movies directly to stream.
And so we see an opportunity from those people who are sitting at home playing video games. We want to offer them a chance to bet on themselves. So, you would connect (your) favorite game to the platform, and we could collect data as you play and work out your skill level. And then we can offer you bets like, “Will you win your next three games in a row at 6-1?”
Sood: Yep, that’s live in 41 states.
And that’s the biggest opportunity because then we can cross-sell those customers into our other products, depending on legislation. That includes a virtual game based on an RNG (random number generator), which is categorized as casino or traditional esports betting.
Sood: It’s been pretty nuts. We don’t share actual numbers, but we’re seeing something like double the number of sign-ups than normal.
Sood: We’ve had a lot of calls from major operators who want to do things with us, but I don’t know exactly what that looks like yet.
We have a B2B, white-label offering, but beyond that, some people look at our tech and say, “Why aren’t we buying you?” Everything is on the table.
A lot of these executives are so focused on the day-to-day that they hadn’t looked around the space at other opportunities. But things are moving fast now.
Sood: Regulators are willing to move quickly right now. I’ve been speaking to a lot of them, and I know for sure they want us to go live as soon as possible.
Sood: There’s no better way to spot cheating than through betting patterns. Our system is very smart at using algorithms and AI (artificial intelligence) to detect anything like that.
Sood: You can try and game the system, and people have tried, but you can’t do it. Again, the system is very smart; we do full KYC (know your customer) (checks), so we know who you are, and it’s simply not possible.
Sood: Those sports fans are currently sitting at home playing games like Madden or NBA 2K. We think we can get them on our platform for a $10 wager against their friends. And while they’re here, they might look around at our other products. It’s a bit like how an operator might acquire into sportsbook and cross-sell into casino.