The esports sector has enjoyed a remarkable rise to prominence over the past decade and it has turned many professional gamers into millionaire superstars. Media rights deals are soaring, commercial sponsorships are on the rise, prize money is spiralling and the entire industry is an economic juggernaut.
People pack into stadiums to watch teams of gamers battle it out with their keyboards and controllers, while many more people around the world stream the action. The 2018 League of Legends World Championship Grand Final had 205 million viewers, usurping the Super Bowl in the popularity stakes.
These esports aficionados love to place bets on the action, as it boosts the excitement they experience when watching matches and tournaments unfold, and it gives them the opportunity to make a profit from their expertise. The global esports betting handle is expected to reach $9.3 billion this year and then increase to $12.9 billion in 2020, according to researchers at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming.
A Sector Ripe for Cryptocurrency
Established bookmakers say that esports has now overtaken a wide range of traditional sports in terms of betting handle, and esports betting is tipped to eventually usurp wagering on soccer, basketball, tennis and other major sports.
It is a pretty new phenomenon and it is driven by young, techie types, so it is ripe for cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. Unikrn, a dedicated esports betting site, has made crypto central to its offering, and esports fans are reaping the benefits.
Using the Ethereum blockchain, it can process up to 9,000 bets per second in a safe and reliable fashion. “We have the safest wagering experience,” says Unikrn’s head of global communications, Ryan Jurado. “Traditional wagering does a perfectly fine job, but being able to incorporate blockchain makes everything easier for the customer, makes everything easier for us and makes everything easier for regulators. And it lets us unlock new functionality down the road.”
Speed, Ease and Anonymity
Bettors love crypto and blockchain for many reasons. Firstly, it is quick and easy. It eliminates the mind-numbing waiting times that some people have to endure when making deposits and withdrawals. Using Bitcoin, Ether and other digital coins is rapid.
It is also more cost-effective, as you are not charged handling fees, translation fees and so on. You do not have banks, financial institutions and other middlemen taking a cut, so you can keep more of your winnings. It is also cheaper for the betting sites, and they often pass on those savings to customers in the form of more attractive odds and more compelling bonuses.
Crypto is also decentralised and anonymous, which bettors around the world love. It transcends international boundaries with ease, allowing them to wager with any bookmaker, from anywhere in the world, in a seamless fashion. They do not have to enter credit card details or any personal details on web forms, removing the serious threat of identity theft.
The anonymity makes it less likely for winning bettors to be penalised for their success through restrictions being placed on their accounts. There are no central banks or government agencies getting in the way, and the whole process is a lot safer and more secure.
Unikrn Leads the Way
Unikrn has successful integrated crypto and blockchain technology into esports betting, but it continues to refine its offering in order to improve the user experience. “When the Internet was launched, it was a novelty,” says Jurado. “Fast forward 10 years and everyone’s doing their banking on the internet, and every aspect of their entertainment and social lives. As blockchain and crypto technology ages, so do the amount of utilities that people have brought to them.”
Unikrn was set up by Microsoft Ventures founder Rahul Sood and it has received some extremely famous backers, including Hollywood star Ashton Kutcher. In 2017, it launched a $30 million initial coin offering for UnikoinGold, a cryptocurrency token that enables players around the world to bet on esports tournaments. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was among the investors to purchase coins.
Cuban was an early investor in Unikrn and he suggested to Sood that he start looking at blockchain due to the high levels of transparency and trust that it offers in a highly regulated industry like gambling. The transactions on the blockchain are traceable and accountable, so Unirkn built its entire ecommerce platform on blockchain. There is also a Unikrn Wallet, which allows users to accept Unikoins in a similar fashion to PayPal.
A Wealth of Markets
Esports fans can buy Unikoin or earn it for free on the Unikrn platform, by connecting their gaming Steam and Riot accounts and playing games. Unikoin can be used to buy virtual goods like skins in games and for wagering purposes.
You can check out Unikrn’s markets here and see just how many esports there are to bet on, from League of Legends and CS:GO to Rocket League and Smash Bros. You are not confined to betting on the winner of a match or tournament, as you can speculate on special prop markets like who will score the most kills, who will seize a particular map, who will slay the first dragon and who will be the first to five kills.
Esports is only going to grow in popularity going forwards, as it appeals to a young audience that has grown up with technology. Sports like horse racing, golf and rugby will wane as the fan base dies out, replaced with new generations that more readily identify with star gamers than star golfers. VR and AR technology will improve the spectacle, bringing players out of their chairs and making it a more physical and visually arresting pursuit.
Esports wagering will also surely continue to rise, and cryptocurrency will drive that growth by facilitating easier, safer and more transparent transactions. Crypto and competitive gaming are two of the most exciting technological developments in the world and they will be able to flourish side by side in the years ahead.
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