HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveNewslettersVolume 22ESPORTS DRAWS INVESTORS, INDUSTRY ANTICIPATES LEGALIZED GAMBLING

On January 4, 2016, Fortune Magazine published an interview with the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks owner and popular investor Mark Cuban regarding his recent investments in eSports and eSports wagering companies. The interview follows an increased interest in the activity, including significant attention and discussion at the 2015 Global Gaming Expo, as the gambling industry continues to evaluate the potential of the industry.

In discussing his investment into eSports online wagering company UNIKRN and the potential for sports wagering in the United States, Mr. Cuban stated that “gambling is available in more than 100 countries. Combine that with the explosive growth of eSports and I saw it as a great investment….[sports betting], it’s inevitable. It will take some time for the courts to overcome the grandstanding by a few district attorneys, but once that happens I think we will see a slow but sure availability of gambling across the country.”

eSports, in which individuals or teams compete against each other in popular video games, was a topic that received attention as a potentially large market for gambling expansion at this year’s Global Gaming Expo. The show’s final keynote featured Rahul Sood, CEO and co-founder of UNIKRN. Mr. Sood expressed his enthusiasm for the market’s growth, noting the eSports wagering market is approximately as large as the NHL market, and growth predictions indicate that total wagering may eclipse bets placed on NFL events within the next few years. According to its website, UNIKRN currently offers real money wagering in the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

UNIKRN has received significant attention from famous investors, including Mr. Cuban and actor Ashton Kutcher, who reportedly invested in the company in September 2015.

According to an Eilers Research report on the eSports market, “eSports betting has remained under the radar due to low visibility into the financial performance of the product and a mainstream blind spot regarding the very existence of such activity. Both forces are starting to subside, revealing a space where we estimate fans will wager over a quarter of a billion dollars on the outcome of eSports events in 2015 – a number that will exceed $23bn by 2020.”

 

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