Reality-TV shark Mark Cuban is one of just several big-time investors drawn to UnicoinGold (UKG); the Ethereum-based cryptocurrency issued by the e-sports betting platform Unikrn.
Ethereum-cofounder Anthony Diiorio, Blockchain Capital, Pantera Capital, and Draper’s Dragon fund all bought into Unikrn’s UKG initial cryptocurrency offering (ICO) in October 2017, CNBC reported. The media jumped on the story because the name of a recognizable TV star (Cuban) was associated with it. Most journalists know who Cuban is; maybe one out of a hundred business reporters know who Diiorio is.
Unikrn’s business plan is to take bets on “e-sports;” the term e-sports is a euphemism for video games. Yes, video-game betting is real and some people take it very seriously. An innocent man was reportedly killed because of an argument over a $1.50 bet on Call of Duty: World War II, The Verge revealed.
Unikrn has a Real Business Capable of Making Real Money
Anybody can supposedly bet legally on video games by using Unicoin, Unikrn’s virtual token. Gamers in Australia and the United Kingdom can bet real money on virtual play and combat, Unikrn’s website revealed.
To add icing to the cake, Unikrn received a gaming license in the Republic of Malta in October 2017, Coinbase reported. That might give Unikrn the ability to take bets in Euros from a large number of European nations because Malta is a member of the European Union (EU).
The market Unikrn is tapping is potentially vast, the most popular eSports game League of Legends had 100 million players in August 2017, Statista reported. Unikrn is using price giveaways to lure League of Legends fans to its sports book. Unikrn may take bets on virtual games, but unlike most ICOs it has a real business capable of making real money.
Unikrn might tap a gambling market with over 200 million bettors
The League of Legends is just the tip of the iceberg; Statista data indicates that the top nine eSports games had around 198 million players worldwide in August of 2017. I think those numbers are probably a gross undercount because there are undoubtedly many games and gamers not counted out.
Here are the Top Nine eSports games according to Statista:
- League of Legends – 100 million players in August 2017.
- Call of Duty – 28.1 million players in August 2017.
- Hearthstone – 23.9 million players in August 2017.
- DOTA (Defense of the Ancients) 2; a World of Warcraft spinoff – 12.6 million players in August 2017.
- World of Tanks – 12.3 million players in August 2017.
- FIFA 17 (World Cup Football; Soccer to Americans and Canadians) – 12.3 million players in August 2017.
- Counter–Strike: Global Offensive – 9 million players in August 2017.
- Player Union’s Battlegrounds – 6.8 million players in August 2017.
- StarCraft – 2.4 million players in August 2017.
These numbers are just a small piece of the eSports pie because there are lots of other games out there. Not included are World of Warcraft itself, the popular online games based on Star Trek and Star Wars, Fantasy Sports, and all the huge video game, movie and comic book franchises.
The Opportunities for Unikrn are Vast
Betting on games based on Star Trek, Star Wars, Marvel Superheroes, DC Superheroes, and similar characters would be huge if the licensing of those characters was available.
Even larger would be betting on fantasy sports or video games based on the NFL, NHL, Major League Baseball, professional Boxing, UFC, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), La Liga (Spanish Soccer), New Japan Pro Wrestling, Premier League Football, NASCAR, Formula One, and other professional sports venues. The potential market for even smaller sports is vast, the WWE network digital video channel alone had 1.661 million paid subscribers in August 2017, Wrestling Inc. reported.
Since sports organizations like the NFL and NASCAR will soon need a source of revenue to replace TV advertising such gaming is probably imminent. FIFA 17 and Fantasy Football would serve as the templates for that new business.
Governments are likely to go along with this scheme because of the tax revenue. If Her Majesty’s Government in the UK and the Australian government start raking in a lot of cash from eSports betting, expect politicians all over the world to come out in favor of blockchain betting.
The risks here are also vast because anti-gambling zealots like U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) are like to target Unikrn at some point. All it will take is one pundit claiming that video games “are corrupting our youth with gambling” to make eSports a political issue. That will mean costly legal battles, and leave Unikrn vulnerable to being shaken down by politicians of all stripes.
So what is UnicoinGold Anyway?
Unikrn’s business is actually pretty good, but what is UnicoinGold (UKG) and how is it different from Unicoin?
Unicoin is a virtual currency, which means it is worthless in the real world. UnicoinGold is an ERC20 Ethereum-based cryptocurrency. Ethereum is a blockchain-based operating system on which a wide variety of digital applications run. Those digital applications include the Ethereum (ETH); or Ether, cryptocurrency, and UnicoinGold.
Unlike Unicoin, UnicoinGold can be sold for real money in the real world. UnikoinGold had a Coin Price of $1.52 (0.00116559 ETH) and a Market Capitalization of $203.404 million (156,488) on 10 January 2018. It also had a Market Volume of $12.670 million (9,748 ETH) based on a Circulating Supply of 134.256 million UKG. The Total Supply of UnicoinGold is capped at one billion, which means another 865.744 million UKG can be mined or created.
Unikrn is not taking bets in UnicoinGold yet but it might. A more likely scenario would be to make Unicoin redeemable in UnicoinGold in those regions where UKG or Ethereum are legal.
Is UnicoinGold a Good Investment?
UnicoinGold might not be a good investment despite the potential of eSports. There is a strong possibility that it might run afoul of U.S. securities laws. The Texas State Securities Board (TSSB) pulled the plug on BitConnect’s ICO calling it an attempt to get around laws regulating stocks on 5 January 2018, Coinbase reported.
Unikrn and Cuban are likely to get in similar trouble if they keep hyping UnicoinGold. A better and smart move would be for Unikrn to hold an initial public offering (IPO) and start selling stock. Another smart move might be to buy an existing publicly-traded company and use its stock as cover as Long Blockchain (NASDAQ: LTEA) is doing.
Investors would be better off buying or mining Ethereum (ETH) and waiting until Unikrn issues a real stock to buy into it. Ether owners can profit when UKG owners sell their cryptocurrency for Ethereum. Average investors, outside the UK and Australia, should stay away from Uinkrn for now because it is on some very shaky legal ground.
Revelation: your friendly neighborhood blogger owns a small amount of Ethereum (ETH).