Billionaire Mark Cuban is going on all in on gambling’s hottest new vertical, e-sports betting. The colorful owner of the Dallas Mavericks is making a big investment in a site called Unikrn (pronounced, “unicorn”) and that’s great news for the rapidly growing e-sports business.
Unikrn is one of a number of start ups that are focusing on the e-sports market, but they’re doing it with a twist. Not only can players play in competitive video game leagues, they can also bet on the outcome of those games. (Though it’s not clear as to whether players can bet on their games. Sorry Pete Rose, we’ll check up on that one for you.)
There is, however, a pretty big catch. Unikrn’s wagering component is only available to punters in countries where e-sports betting is actually legal. That means that the massive US video gaming market is currently off-limits to Unikrn.
That limitation, however, has not slowed down Cuban’s interest in the budding market.
In a statement to the press that was quoted on Inc.com, Cuban said:
I only put my name on the companies that I feel will be successful, truly advance an industry, and have a leadership team that I respect Unikrn fits all these requirements.
Indeed, enthusiasm for e-sports and e-sports betting is reaching something of a fever pitch amongst the tech and investment crowds. That same Inc.com article quotes a report predicting e-sports will be as big as the NFL by the year 2017. The NFL currently pulls in revenue around $9 billion a year.
No matter how large it actually gets, the e-sports and e-sports betting markets are clearly on the rise.