MGM Grand and Unikrn to Offer Cryptocurrency Prizes for Esports Events
Published on April 27, 2018
The face of Las Vegas is changing… once again.
The Las Vegas casinos are some of the most highly-regulated operations in the world. The Nevada Gaming Control Board and Commission watches everything that goes on, especially on the famous Las Vegas Strip.
So, it was a surprise to many when Unikrn, a global leader in esports betting, announced the approval of the first cryptocurrency for esports by a Las Vegas casino.
If cryptocurrency or even esports are new terms for you, you’re not alone. Esports has only been in the dictionary for three years, and cryptocurrency and blockchains just made the 2018 cut.
So, in this post, I’m going to give you a quick introduction to Unikrn and their burgeoning cryptocurrency Unikoin. I’ll also explain why the approval to provide cryptocurrency prizes at the MGM should be a big awareness boost for both.
Before I get to that, I’ll start with a look at the MGM and how it got involved with esports and cryptocurrency.
The MGM Grand that shines brightly on the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue is one of the largest hotel-casinos in the Vegas valley. It offers 2,500 gambling machines and 139 poker and other casino game tables.
Over the past few years, the MGM group decided to be at the forefront of the esports bandwagon that’s been gaining more than steady momentum throughout the 2010s. MGM properties have not only hosted premier tournaments, but the MGM Grand converted one of its restaurants to a dedicated esports and gaming lounge called Level Up.
At the end of 2017, Las Vegas-based Unikrn signed a deal with the MGM to provide weekly tournaments in Level Up starting in January of ’18. It’s not a small venture, either, with the booming market and international tourism that Las Vegas attracts.
The esports market revenue is closing in on the billion-dollar level. In 2017, statistics showed that 100 million people around the world have played League of Legends at least once.
So, it was a wise move for the MGM to partner with Unikrn to provide casual weekly esports tournaments. But in April of 2018, another leap forward was made, this time into the crypto world with UnikoinGold prizes. MGM has given the nod for Unikrn to pay out the winners in UnikoinGold (UKG).
It’s the first time cryptocurrency has been awarded in conjunction with Las Vegas-based promotions, especially on the famous Las Vegas Strip.
Before I get to the Las Vegas part of the story, it’s best to start at the beginning with Unikrn and the recent explosion of esports around the world. Now, if you play, follow, or bet on CS:GO, DOTA2, or League of Legends, you’re several steps ahead of most people.
But if you’ve never previously heard of Unikrn or maybe you’re unclear about the differences between virtual sports and esports, then this quick primer should bring you up to speed.
Esports can simply be defined as competitive video gaming. While there are some electronic versions of traditional sports like the games offered by EA Sports, many of the top esports like DOTA 2 or Counter-Strike bear no resemblance to those. Many look like the combat-type games that your niece or nephew, neighbor, grandchildren, or you like to play using your computer or gaming console.
The most common types of esports include the following.
These types of video games are played around the globe, and by men, women, and children of all ages. The best players, though, form teams and compete professionally. The concept of competitive video gaming may be hard to comprehend if you haven’t followed esports, but there’s a huge fan following.
Not only are the biggest tournaments streamed online, but many have also been televised. 40 million viewers have tuned in at one time for Counter-Strike, League of Legends, and Starcraft championships.
Think about how many people you know who either have a gaming console or play video games on their computer. If everyone knows at least someone who plays, you can imagine how enormous the industry is, and it’s probably much more expansive than you think.
Hardcore gamers, like recreational athletes or sports enthusiasts, not only play but follow the pros to learn and be entertained by them.
Even though all esports aren’t based on what we’d consider traditional sports, they’re structured the same way. You’ve got amateurs, professionals, and teams that are well-known in the arena.
The format falls right in line with sports betting, and many of the online bookmakers include a small selection of esports markets. Punters can typically bet on the biggest leagues like LoL and CS:GO.
It was only a matter of time before a sportsbook would dedicate itself to the ever-growing esports industry. In 2015, Unikrn.com did just that.
Unikrn, Inc. was founded by Rahul Sood and Karl Flores but was partially funded by big names like Ashton Kutcher and Mark Cuban, as well as $10 million in crowdfunding.
While only residents of the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand can actually bet cold hard cash, Unikrn is structured to accommodate everyone, regardless of location. No, you can’t use your bank account or credit cards, but you can stake and win Unikoins, a virtual currency.
You won’t find college or professional football, baseball, basketball, or other “traditional sports.” The “esportsbook” is solely dedicated to esports.
But the Unikrn platform is much more than that. You can bet, you can play, or you can do both. Connecting your gaming account to Unikrn puts you in the running for prizes.
You can also read up on esports news and watch live streams of some of the top matches.
Basically, Unikrn has established itself as an all-encompassing hub for everything esports. As this is just an intro to Unikrn, you can read our more in-depth review of Unikrn.com. It will provide you with a lot more information on this new and unique concept that’s taking the esports world by storm.
When Unikrn launched, it introduced a virtual currency called Unikoins. Unikoins are a way to allow for betting without violating any gambling laws. They’re earned by completing quests on the website or through gameplay, and esports betting.
In 2017, the traditional Unikoin that started it all was rebranded as UnikoinSilver.
UnikoinSilver can’t be transferred or sold. It’s used as a virtual currency through Unikrn. So, linking your gaming account to Unikrn and participating in gameplay will allow you to accumulate UnikoinSilver and spend it in the Unikrn vault.
Then, a second Unikoin was created based on Ethereum and blockchain technology called UnikoinGold. It’s traded as UKG, and at the time of this writing, it was valued at approximately 0.0004045 ETH or 0.249 US dollars.
From September to October in 2017, Unikrn held a token sale. In return for pledging Ethereum, buyers would receive UnikoinGold at the end of the offering. When the token sale wrapped on the 22nd of October, 127,616,023 UKG were bartered in exchange for 112,720 ETH.
Unikrn also launched a Unikrn wallet, which will quickly facilitate transactions within its esports platform.
While you can’t purchase UKG through Unikrn anymore, you can through Ku Coin or Radar Relay. UnikrnGold is a private blockchain product offering a similar service like PayPal. Users can buy, sell, and exchange with privacy and security. The goal is to expand UKG’s role in the esports industry as the primary “currency.”
As UnikoinGold is a true cryptocurrency, Unikrn has limited its use on the website to the licensed and regulated gambling locations that already participate in real-money wagering. But the MGM partnership has now expanded its distribution.
In December of 2017, Unikrn, Inc. announced a partnership with MGM Resorts to hold weekly esports tournaments in MGM’s Level Up lounge. The competitions occupy prime real estate in the casino-resort and attract gamers from around the world.
Just a few months into the partnership, MGM Resorts has agreed to a new twist on these casual competitions by allowing the distribution of UnikoinGold as tournament prizes.
It may not seem like it, but it’s a groundbreaking move and one that could make a huge impact on cryptocurrency, especially when it comes to esports. Unikrn has positioned UnikoinGold as the crypto for gamers, and MGM’s participation not only generates awareness for UKG but cryptocurrency in general.
Within four months, Unikrn has gone from showcasing esports to potentially millions of international visitors each year to integrating its own cryptocurrency into the event promotion and prize distribution.
Just think about the potential audience. Las Vegas attracts approximately 40 million annual tourists, many of which are either players, fans, or bet money on esports competitions.
So, in a city where a win is tough to come by, Unikrn just got a win-win.
Level Up is a dedicated esports and gaming lounge within the MGM resort in a space that was previously occupied by the Rainforest Café.
It’s an ideal fit for the MGM, as no other ownership group has hosted as many esports events as the MGM properties=.
Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay hosted the 2016 League of Legends Spring Finals and MLG Las Vegas. The MGM Grand hosted the Dreamhack Master Las Vegas in 2016 with a $450,000 prize pool. Even the MGM National Harbor in Maryland featured the Rocket League Season 4 Championships.
MGM is leading the pack with its esports involvement. It’s no doubt hoping to attract more millennials to its resorts, which is something most Las Vegas properties are trying to do. The approval of crypto prizes is yet another significant leap toward appealing to that target demographic.
You can follow Unikrn’s Facebook feed for updated event info or download the schedule right from the MGM website.