Innovation is always a hot topic at G2E Vegas, and in the online space, Unikrn is pushing the envelope in most ways you could imagine. Whether it be esports, blockchain tech or skill based gaming, Unikrn is trying something new on all fronts, and founder Rahul Sood joined our Becky Liggero Fontana to talk about the company’s progress.
Most of the industry is still coming to terms with what blockchain can offer to the gambling industry, but Unikrn has already figured most of that out. “What’s great about crypto and just being able to accept those types of currencies in our business, the gambling business, is dealing with payment processors is very expensive, there’s a high amount of fraud,” he said. “With blockchain, it’s very easy to sort of block fraud. It’s easy to do things like AML and KYC properly. For a gambling business of the future, this is really where things will get the best usage of blockchain.”
What makes Unikrn unique amongst most operators is it’s licensing situation, having receive a license from the Isle of Man. “It took us about a year to get that license in the first place because we’re like the only company in the world with a license from the Isle of Man for live sports, live esports, online casino, skill gambling using UMode, streamer betting and virtual, with cryptocurrency and fiat currency,” Sood noted. “It took us a year because they wanted to learn a little bit about how we audit, they wanted to audit our blockchain and just see how we handle things like AML (anti-money laundering) and KYC (know your customer), forensic wallet tracking, source of funds and things like that. It’s important to us because we know that this space, the crypto space, is very relevant to our audience.”
Having the blockchain space figured out plays well to what is perhaps Unikrn’s greatest asset: a younger audience. “Our audience tends to be younger, they’re very tech savvy, they understand video games and esports,” he noted. “And we use our token as a way of rewards. We give them tokens to earn rewards, we let them connect their favorite game to the platform and earn tokens, they can use those tokens in jackpots, they can actually bet with it but they can also buy games and things like that. So it’s sort of like a loyalty system for us, it’s like the ultimate loyalty rewards program that you can trade off platform as well.”
Being in the U.S., Liggero Fontana asked if Sood noticed a big difference in the states approach to blockchain, and if he’s seen acceptance of cryptocurrency. “Crypto, not so much here,” he admitted. “They’re a little bit weary of it. Some of them are very positive towards it. In the U.S., there’s not a lot of regulatory clarity around crypto, and so regulators tend to freak-out.”
But there are other areas where the U.S. is starting to embrace new ideas. “When it comes to esports betting though, they’re very open to it,” he said. “I spoke with nine regulators from New Jersey yesterday and they were all over the platform, they love what we’re building, they’ve very supportive of esports betting, but when it comes to crypto they’re just not there yet. I think it’s going to take time. I think currently, cryptocurrency, the biggest use case is trading and speculation. That has to change. I think our platform is one of those sort of wave 2 platforms where there will be real consumer usage, because people are using it today, and they use it every day to bet with UKG. It’s pretty fun.”
Finally, Liggero Fontana asked Sood to expand on many of the products that makes Unikrn unique. “Your typical bookmaker, you can go and watch a professional tournament and bet,” he began explaining. “So you get odds, and you bet on these odds. We also added virtual betting, so basically we take historical matches and we put them through an RNG, a random number generator, and we let people bet 24/7 on historical matches. It’s a virtual betting game that we created around multiple titles. And then we let people watch their favorite streamer. So if you have a favorite streamer, like a streamer that streams on Twitch or Mixer, you can come to the Unikrn platform, you may see the streamer on the platform, and you can bet live on their stream while they’re streaming on outcomes of the game. So we support PUBG, Fortnite and Apex Legends right now. We put streamers like Ninja and other streamers online whenever we can, whenever we see them on, and people come there and bet on them, it’s fun.”