Online gambling giant Entain to acquire Seattle esports betting startup Unikrn

Unikrn co-founders Karl Flores (left) and Rahul Sood. (Unikrn photo)

Enttain, one of the world’s largest sports betting and gaming companies, announced Thursday that it had agreed to acquire Unikrn, a Seattle-based startup that operates an esports betting platform. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Unikrn was founded in 2014 and was supported by prominent investors such as Mark Cuban and Ashton Kutcher. It allows people to bet on esports matches in games like League of Legends or Counter-Strike, similar to traditional sports.

Enttain owns a variety of online brands such as bwin and Ladbrokes for sports betting, casino, poker and bingo games. It processed more than $ 16 billion in sports betting in 2020 and employs more than 24,000 people in 20 offices worldwide.

Unikrn will temporarily stop its services once the deal is closed.

Rahul Sood, who previously ran Microsoft Ventures, and veterinarian Karl Flores founded the company. Flores took over the position of CEO of Sood last year and will move to Enttain along with the other Unikrn employees. According to LinkedIn, the company has around 40 employees.

Sood told GeekWire that he will be staying in Seattle and looking for a new opportunity.

“It’s been a fun trip with celebrations, challenges and loads of happiness,” Sood told GeekWire. “I’m looking forward to the future of Unikrn and Entain and I’ll be looking for something cool again.”

Enttain said it hired former Twitch manager Justin Dellario to lead eSports operations.

“One exciting opportunity is the growing market for esports skill-based betting,” said Jette Nygaard-Andersen, CEO of Enttain, in a statement. “We are building the first scalable platform to address this market and I am excited to have Justin Dellario join us to guide our growth in this new area.”

Entain estimates that esports betting and social casino-related markets could add an addressable market share of $ 20 billion by 2025.

Unikrn also raised $ 31 million for an initial coin offering four years ago but ran into legal trouble. Earlier this year, the company paid a $ 6.1 million fine and was forced to deactivate its UnikoinGold (UKG) cryptocurrency to settle fees from the Securities and Exchange Commission for making an unregistered initial coin offering in violation violated US securities laws.

In 2018, Unikrn was sued over allegations that the company circumvented federal regulations in the Initial Coin Offering (ICO).

Unikrn raised $ 10 million in an equity round in 2014. Other private donors were Advancit Capital, Freelands Group, 500 Startups, Indicator Ventures, Tabcorp and the now closed Binary Capital.

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