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eSports Betting Moves Forward As UK Gets Dedicated Gambling Service

Unikrn lets viewers wager on CS:GO and League of Legends.

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Unikrn, a site that allows users to bet on eSports matches, has launched in the UK, making it the territory's first dedicated betting site for competitive gaming.

The service is restricted to jurisdictions in which betting is permitted, which means that much of the United States is out of reach.

However, UK, Australia, and Asia-based eSports fans can now watch and wager on tournaments run by popular European Leagues including the ESL Gaming Network and the ESEA.

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Currently, users can bet on League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive matches, but its site states that it will be adding DotA 2, Heroes of the Storm "and many more in the coming months."

In addition to viewing and betting on eSports matches, Unikrn also provides "live discussions and competitive odds to gaming fans globally."

Previously, established UK betting services have allowed users to wager on eSports matches. William Hill takes bets on Counter-Strike and DotA 2, providing a selection of matches from a day-to-day basis for users to select from.

PaddyPower, meanwhile, seems to offer betting opportunities based on whether large events are occurring.

Unikrn was co-founded by Rahul Sood, who also serves as its CEO. Sood previously worked at Razer, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and founded Voodoo PC.

Although a number of websites provide betting services for eSports--and can be accessed in the UK--unlike Unikrn, none have the backing of a large wagering business such as Tabcorp.

"eSports is one of the largest sports globally, attracting viewer numbers that are on par with traditional sports such as American football and basketball," said Sood in April, when announcing Unikrn's global partnership with Tabcorp.

"We couldn’t have found a better partner than Tabcorp to drive innovation and bring wagering to the fast-growing eSports market. Tabcorp's track record as a global leader in responsible betting and its experience running an integrated wagering and media business provides Unikrn with the platform to build a secure, legal, and fun arena for adults to gather, game, and bet on eSports."

Speaking about the UK launch, Sood described the territory as "one of the most sophisticated sports betting markets in the world."

"There has been tremendous demand for safe wagering on eSports from consumers in that part of the world,” he added.

eSports has been slowly making its way into mainstream coverage, with the most high-profile recent example being a Heroes of the Storm tournament on ESPN. Naturally, opinions on the network's decision to air competitive video game playing was mixed.

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