Las Vegas Casinos, Mainstream Media Failed to See Esports Trend

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The coronavirus forced Las Vegas casinos to close for the first time in history. While revenues for the gambling industry dropped tremendously in March, April, and May, one CEO says the casino industry missed out on a major trend that could have helped drive revenue while casinos were shut down.

Rahul Sood, the CEO of Unikrn, an esports betting and entertainment media company, sat down with TheStreet and Sports Illustrated to discuss the growing popularity of esports. Sood says the old-fashioned mentality of casino operators blinded them to the explosive popularity and opportunity of gaming and betting on people playing video games.

With casinos and brick and mortar sportsbooks shut down, gamblers turned to another outlet to get their gambling fix. Betting on video games, like Electronic Arts' Madden or Activision Blizzard's Call of Duty is starting to become as mainstream as betting on an NFL game. Unlike the casino giants, Unikrn's business was able to take advantage of a bad situation with the pandemic by offering a platform for gamblers to make wagers.

"If you look at it from a Jim Cramer or TheStreet point of view and think about where things are going, the world of entertainment is changing," Sood told TheStreet. 

A global pandemic forced the mainstream media and casino companies to wake up to the explosive growth of the gaming industry. ESPN started broadcasting esports tournaments, the Nevada Gaming Control Board approved sportsbooks to take wagers on the Call of Duty League, and the NBA and MLB created esports tournaments for featuring some of the leagues' most popular players.

It's all part of a trend that Sood, a lifetime gamer, recognized early on—and his business is now reaping the benefits. Sood says he's been meeting with gambling industry leaders since 2014 which led to a handful of partnerships but "none of them have invested or pushed hard" into the world of esports and now his phone is "ringing off the hook. It's stupid. They're late!"

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