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The publicly traded company is amassing a number of properties related to esports, but it is doing so with a unique approach by combining games, tournaments, and gambling. Other companies such as Vindex and GG Group are making big investments in esports as well, but none have amassed as large a collection of assets as Esports Entertainment Group, said CEO Grant Johnson in an interview with GamesBeat. On top of that, the betting side will likely generate revenue to keep the company going while it waits for long-term profits coming in from the growth of esports.
Ultimately, Esports Entertainment Group expects competitive gaming to become as big as traditional sports. That’s why Grant Johnson believes that sports team owners such as Robert Kraft, Mark Cuban, Jerry Jones, and Harris Blitzer Sports Entertainment have all made esports investments. Institutional investors are bullish, and that’s why investors are pouring a billion dollars a year into the industry.
“The large, smart sporting empires are investing hundreds of millions of dollars into esports. Esports has gone mainstream,” Johnson said. “Two years ago, if somebody said that esports tournaments are going to be broadcast on TV, you would have gotten a lot of eye-rolling. But that is what COVID has brought.”
He claims the new acquisitions will make the company into the most diversified esports entertainment company. With the deals, the company is bringing together an enterprise software business, an analytics platform, and a player-vs.-player skill-based wagering platform. Those businesses will be coupled with Esports Entertainment Group’s overseas gambling business for betting on competitive gaming.
With the acquisition of Helix eSports, Esports Entertainment is also picking up Helix’s Genji Analytics, which produces esports data.
“We’re acquiring three operating entities — GGCircuits, Helix eSports, and Genji Analytics,” said Johnson. “It’s going to be transformative for us. This will give us multiple different revenue streams. We’re the only esports gambling company licensed on NASDAQ.”
Publicly traded Esports Entertainment Group is based in Malta. The company said it is raising its guidance for the fiscal year 2022 ending June 30, 2022, from $25 million in revenues to $42 million.
Esports Entertainment Group is focusing on esports and gamers who are over 18. It has a license to conduct online gambling globally via licenses in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta, and Curacao. It offers fantasy and pools betting on esports at the site Vie.gg. The company has about $9 million in the bank, and it has a market value of about $57 million.
“The acquisitions give us technology platforms that are potentially synergistic to what we’re doing,” Johnson said. “We have definitely got something for everyone, to keep them engaged and keep them coming back.”
GGCircuit, founded by Zack Johnson, is a business-to-business software company that provides cloud-based management for gaming centers, a tournament platform, and integrated wallet/point-of-sale solutions for enterprise customers. It helps companies run their physical esports locations.
That’s not such a great business to be in at the moment, with much of the country shut down. But GGCircuit and Esports Entertainment Group are looking ahead to better times. GGCircuit has more than 1,000 connected locations and has worked with enterprises such as GameStop, Dell, Best Buy, and Lenovo as well as universities such as Ohio State, Syracuse University and, the University of North Carolina.
The GGLeap product has over 60 million hours of usage by over 2 million unique gamers on tens of thousands of public gaming screens inside centers worldwide.
Helix eSports, founded by Murphy Vandervelde, owns five esports entertainment centers. Two of those are among the five largest such facilities in the U.S. Helix offers a variety of experiences including casual play, competitive tournaments, STEM programming, high school leagues, large groups, and esports bootcamps.
And Helix’s Unity-based LANduel will enable safe and regulated player-vs.-player wagering opportunities. Helix’s centers are envisioned as destinations for social and competitive gamers alike with monthly tournaments and tech that can level the playing field for players.
Helix also owns Genji Analytics, an esports-oriented analytics provider for game publishers and others. Genji uses computer vision, natural language processing, and machine learning tools, to provide data for broadcast and scouting purposes.
Genji, founded by William Collis, works with leading esports publishers and sports leagues, such as FIFA and the NBA 2K League, to power activities like combines, drafts and data-driven business decisions. Genji has also launched products into Helix eSports Centers that create customized tournament experiences, leveraging both idle computing capacity and unique proprietary data sources.
Genji’s revenue streams include platform sales to publishers and leagues with plans to expand to all competitive players looking to enhance their gameplay through analysis, fair competition, and roster optimization.
LANduel is currently with the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement on a pilot program. If the model is approved at the Helix eSports locations, LANduel could be scaled to other centers throughout the U.S. across the GGCircuit network, and eventually into the homes of gamers through GGCircuit’s proprietary at-home product suite.
Esports Entertainment Group recently signed a deal with AEG to become the official esports tournament provider to the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and the MLS’ Los Angeles Galaxy.
“We think we are going to have this convergence of esports and traditional sports, and I think we’re pretty well positioned there,” said Johnson.
The Esports Entertainment Group’s Esports Gaming League platform has 350,000 registered users. Esports Entertainment Group had more than 60 employees before the deals, and it expects to add another 60 by year end.
Over time, Johnson believes the esports gambling side of the business will become the largest, as the market is nascent in North America.
“It’s very much in its early days,” he said. “We think this deal will help us launch player-vs.-player skill-based betting in the esports entertainment centers.”
Skill-based betting is legal in 41 U.S. states, as it isn’t considered illegal gambling.
“Nobody else will have this type of infrastructure,” Johnson said.
As for the effect on physical esports, Johnson said, “Things will eventually get back to normal. Whatever the new normal will be, we’re not sure. But right now, the vast majority of our activity is related to online esports. Even Helix’s physical esports operations are operating close to break-even.”
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