The Unikrn shutdown is official, with the Entain-owned esports betting brand announcing it is “powering down operations.” The Oct. 12 post on X said all betting will end on Oct. 20. Then the standalone app that was live in Brazil, Canada, and Chile will function in Entain’s other online sportsbooks.
That likely means the US debut of Unikrn that had been slated for 2023 won’t happen. As it is, there are no standalone apps in the US for this form of betting on the outcomes of video gaming tournaments and events. Esports betting is often included in sportsbook apps if state law allows it.
So today, Bonus asked Justin Dellario, Entain’s esports managing director and CEO of Unikrn, about the Unikrn shutdown and what it means for US esports betting plans. He didn’t immediately respond.
However, the Unikrn shutdown notice on X today read, in part:
Unikrn itself will become part of the existing leading sports brands within Entain Group. So the incredible product our team built will continue on in the future.
Thanks for playing with us, guys. GG, all.
“GG” means “good game.”
Unikrn will stop accepting bettor deposits tomorrow, its X post said.
Meanwhile, the Unikrn shutdown hasn’t been the only surprise this week from Entain (Entain PLC 802,80 +0,32%). On Tuesday, during the opening keynote panel at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, Entain CEO Jette Nygaard-Andersen hinted that Entain’s joint venture with MGM Resorts International (MGM Resorts International 39,43 -0,76%) — BetMGM — may eventually end.
BetMGM is one of the US’s top revenue-generating online casino, poker, and sportsbook apps.
EGR quoted her on Wednesday:
Joint ventures don’t last forever.
Unikrn Shutdown Before Esports ‘Super Bowl’
Rumors about the Unikrn shutdown began among esports fans on Saturday. Luke Warr broke the news on EsportsBets, which is a Catena Media publication like Bonus.
By Tuesday, Sharpr e-newsletter author Cody Luongo confirmed with Entain that the company was ” ‘repositioning’ its esports offering and will be ‘scaling back’ its direct-to-consumer offering with Unikrn.”
Luongo, also a senior manager of corporate communications with Ontario online gambling operator Rivalry, wrote:
Unikrn’s undoing was equally as puzzling as it was sudden.
This week kicks off the two biggest esports events of the calendar year: The League of Legends World Championship and Dota 2’s The International.
These two tournaments are effectively the Super Bowls of esports, and the betting activity driven by them is correspondingly worthwhile.
For Entain to cut the lights off right before esports operators’ biggest month of the year is somewhat of a head-scratcher, and to what I could only equate as a sportsbook deciding to close its doors at the start of football season.
unikrn business update pic.twitter.com/ky00zMd6vc
— Unikrn (@UnikrnCo) October 12, 2023