By Brandon Brathwaite
After the "TMartin Counter-Strike: Global Offensive" skin scandal ー in which CSGO Lotto deceived users into thinking their odds were more favorable than they actually were ー the subject of gambling and esports became a point of serious tension for gamers.
For companies like Unikrn, which built its platform on the practice of esports betting, battling that stigma is a central, implicit part of the operation.
But according to CEO and co-founder Rahul Sood, the company is determined to make betting on esports a “safe, legal, and relegated” space.
Sood told Cheddar Sports: “I like to bet on sports and I like to bet on esports.”
“Up until now,” he added, “there hasn’t been a comprehensive legit space to bet.”
Fortunately, Sood has some pretty influential partners.
Unikrn has investments from celebrity names like Mark Cuban and Ashton Kutcher ー the company has raised $10 million in venture funding and an additional $25 million for an initial coin offering for its cryptocurrency, UnikoinGold. Through UnikoinGold or U.S. dollars, users can bet on esports events ー and even bet on themselves in games.
“For example, you can load up a game in ‘Fortnite’ and you can bet on yourself that you’ll be 1 of 100. We’ll put odds on your chances of being that one of 100,” Sood said.
As for the prospects of esports as a whole, Sood is optimistic about its future ー and he pointed to moments like Drake and Ninja’s Twitch stream as a positive indicator of its growth. He predicted that "the future of sports is really esports."
“When you start to look at these older sports they’re losing the younger demographic or their fans are getting older,” Sood said.
“More esports fans are being born. That’s just the reality of the situation.”