Rahul Sood Advises Las Vegas Casinos to Embrace eSports Betting


Unikrn founder Rahul Sood led Microsoft Ventures until November 2014.

Rahul Sood of Unikrn recommends that Las Vegas casinos should embrace eSports. Unikrn is an US eSports website, though the Seattle-based company is a free, legal way to play electronic sports online.

The founder of Unikrn believes eSports is the answer to the dilemma faced by many brick-and-mortar casinos. The traditional Las Vegas-style casino has difficulty marketing to the millennial generation — 35 and under people, or those who came of age after the turn of the millennium.

Millennial Gambling Tastes

Millennials do not enjoy slot machines the way the Baby Boomer generation does. As Rahul Sood says, millennial gamblers see the slot machine as “games for grandma“.

Rahul Sood says that millennial generations sees casinos themselves in a much different way than traditional gamblers do. They see a casino more as an integrated resort for entertainment, leisure, dining, and shopping. In particular, the nightlife is the most important aspect of the casino experience.

Mr. Sood told Calvin Ayre, “The thing that you’ll notice when you come to Las Vegas is that a lot of young people who come here, they typically cut through the casino and they go straight to the night club. They don’t really spend a lot of time inside the casino.

Unikrn Esports Betting Community

Mr. Sood, the former director of social media for Microsoft, believes eSports betting will be legal in the United States in the next few years. On the Unikrn site, players bet on eSports contests like they would on a real money website, but instead play for Unicoins, which can be used to buy merchadise.

He’s built the Unikrn community to one day compete against top UK competitors like Pinnacle and EGB. While players in the United States cannot wager, Unikrn is building a community of US players who engage in a legal form of gaming. If ever eSports betting is legalized, Unikrn quickly can monetize their gaming.

If and when it ever happens, Unikrn will face stiff competition from Pinnacle and EGB, but also established online gambling companies like Betway, Bet365, William Hill, and Ladbrokes, which each have their own eSports gaming portals.

Still, Unikrn has attracted a lot of investors, who believe eSports is the wave of the future in online United States betting. The last wave of investment netted $7 million. Celebrities and athletes (members of the Seattle Seahawks) are among the investors.

The Appeal of eSports Betting

Betting on eSports has the same appeal as betting on horses or sporting events. Players have the ability to bet on the outcome of events. Such gaming comes with entertainment value, because they are watching a competition in a hobby they know and enjoy.

That knowledge is a big part of the appeal of eSports betting, says Sood. The idea that the players know the competitors and might have insight into who is going to win — and which is the best bet — has a lot greater appeal than betting on a game of chance.

Flummoxed by Slot Machines

The lack of skill in slot machine gambling limits the appeal of slots row to millennials. Rahul Sood said, “I’ve sat young people down in front of the slot machines to observe them and ask them questions things like that without actually probing what they are thinking and it’s pretty clear to me that they don’t find slot machines either intuitive or they don’t like the concept of pay up by chance.

The millennial disdain for traditional casino gaming can be overstated. A 2014 study of the gaming habits of Las Vegas tourists showed that 85% of Baby Boomers played games on slots row during their visit to the city. That number dropped to 62% for millennials visiting Las Vegas. While that is a stark difference, it shows that people still want to try the games.

Do Millennials Like to Gamble?

Other reports suggest a far smaller percentage of millennials are interested in slots row. One pundit suggested the number was as low as 2% of the millennial generation which wants to play the slots. Vegas Fan Boy blogged an article called “Millennials Don’t Like to Gamble“, which suggested that few promotions by casinos were likely to work.

Adam Baeur’s blog post brought up an interesting point, one which points to the realities of American in 2016. Not only did millennials grow up playing games on the video console; many also have more limited budgets than their parents or grandparents did. Of course, twenty-somethings in general have fewer financial resources than the older generations. That’s always the case.

Economic studies show that this generation believes it is going to be the first to be less affluent than the previous American generations. Whether that’s true or not (and it might be), the fact is that millennials believe that to be the case. Where Baby Boomers might have rushed to the Las Vegas Strip to blow disposable income, the current younger generation does not have the resources to do that. Staying at home to play video games makes more financial sense, whether it’s more entertaining or not.

If so, then Rahul Sood’s advice to Las Vegas casinos might be wrong. Whether Sood is correct or not, eSports is likely to be a better option for casino management than traditional forms of gambling. Each casino is trying its own methods to lure millennials, but the fact gaming operators are giving advice (besides being self-serving) shows there is still no consensus.