Seattle startup Unikrn today announced new products designed to increase the amount of betting opportunities available for users who watch video game competitions.
Founded in 2014, Unikrn runs an esports betting platform across the globe, allowing people to bet on esports matches much like they do with traditional sports. The company is riding the surge in esports activity and has raised investment from the likes of Mark Cuban and Ashton Kutcher.
The new products rolled out today include Unikrn Virtual, which uses historical match curation technology to let people bet on past professional esports matches. It’s a first-of-its-kind way to increase the amount of betting content without relying on live matches.
Unikrn Streamer Betting, meanwhile, is a risk management solution that uses AI trading bots with game analysis and screen-reading integrations to set esports odds creation in real-time. The idea is to let viewers bet on top streamers’ gameplay on platforms such as Twitch, with fully-automated odds. Streamer Betting is available today on four continents.
“This is just about increasing the engagement for those who like to watch streaming,” said Unikrn CEO Rahul Sood.
Unikrn’s real money betting services aren’t available in the U.S. due to gambling regulations, but Sood is optimistic that the tide will turn in his company’s favor, especially given last year’s Supreme Court ruling allowing states to legalize sports betting.
For now, Unikrn makes money in various places around the world where real-money esports betting is allowed. The company also raised $31 million in an initial coin offering two years ago for UnikoinGold, a cryptocurrency created by Unikrn that can be used on its platform to bet on esports matches.
Sood, a veteran entrepreneur who previously led Microsoft Ventures, said the company is “ahead of the market.” He admitted that being early can backfire on a startup, but Unikrn is inking deals with companies such as MGM to help keep the business going while it continues building esports betting technology and waiting for regulatory approval in more markets.
“This year you’ll see a lot more breadth of product from Unikrn that puts us firmly in position for the future, but also gives us a good core product for today as well,” he said.
Last year, Unikrn acquired a license for both crypto and real money online betting from the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission. It also acquired ChallengeMe.GG, an esports matchmaking service and long-time tournament partner of Unikrn.
Unikrn employs 87 people across offices in Seattle, Berlin, Sydney, and Las Vegas.