Ladbrokes proprietor Entain buys e-sports betting startup Unikrn

When Jette Nygaard-Andersen took over the helm of the UK online gaming company Entain, a pandemic was raging and the company had just fought off a takeover attempt. Now it’s the one who does the business.

The company, formerly known as GVC, owns UK betting company Ladbrokes and many other well-known gaming brands. It operates in 27 regulated gaming markets and plans to expand to 50 more.

On Thursday, it agreed to acquire Unikrn, a Seattle-based start-up that operates a leading esports betting platform and is backed by prominent investors like Mark Cuban and Ashton Kutcher. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Justin Dellario, formerly Twitch, will lead the new eSports department.

“We can triple our business here if we just look at how this market will multiply,” said Nygaard-Andersen in an interview with CNBC. “And it’s about more spending, more commitment, more fun for customers.”

Entain believes eSports and social casino gaming could add an addressable $ 20 billion market share over time. All in all, she sees an addressable market of $ 160 billion for sports betting, igaming, and interactive games.

The news of the acquisition came after Enttain released second-quarter earnings that exceeded expectations and raised its forecast.

During the quarter, BetMGM, its joint venture with MGM Resorts, gained a second market position in the United States for sports betting and gaming. Nygaard-Andersen predicts that the $ 6 billion sports betting and gaming market will become a $ 32 billion market by 2030, a view widely supported by gaming analysts.

Although the two companies are partners with BetMGM, MGM Resorts want to fully own Enttain.

The Las Vegas-based casino powerhouse made a $ 11 billion offer to buy Entain earlier this year. The offer was rejected by Entain’s board of directors, who said it “significantly undervalued” the company. However, gaming industry insiders believe that MGM will continue to be interested in acquiring Enttain because of its technology and global presence.

When asked about MGM’s second quarter earnings conference call, CEO Bill Hornbuckle said, “We’ve made requests in the digital space and the obvious. I have to say our strategy doesn’t just apply to another company very excited about our JV [joint venture] with BetMGM. “

Nygaard-Andersen hesitated when pushing MGM’s acquisition efforts.

“We’re talking today about how we can create value and growth as a stand-alone company,” she said.

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