Aiming to launch in 2018, Luckbox (Luckbox.com) is the latest industry incumbent seeking to effectively bridge sports betting and esports dynamics.
Luckbox CEO & Founder Lars Lien speaks to SBC on his company’s unique take on esports customer engagements, which it believes will help it deliver the industry’s best esports betting platform. Furthermore, Lien details his firm’s intriguing journey from its conception to its pending launch, and why Luckbox is betting big on building-out crypto utilities and functionalities.
SBC: Hi Lars, thanks for the interview. Can you detail to SBC readers your personal journey from working in the igaming sector to starting up your own esports betting platform?
Lars Lien: Great question! Competitive gaming is deeply ingrained into who I am, being an obsessive gamer since childhood, organizing LANs, competing in StarCraft events across Europe, before landing a job at Sony Online Entertainment as Lead Game Master for EverQuest & Star Wars Galaxies.
Having always been entrepreneurial and ambitious, all stars aligned when esports had entered an explosive growth phase and PokerStars offered me a very fair redundancy package as part of post-acquisition restructuring efforts. I knew I had to do this – combine passion with experience!
From there I took an interim COO role at GosuGamers, one of the world’s largest esports media sites to learn the esports industry, before convincing former PokerStars colleague Mike Stevens to pivot his Luckbox project into esports.
During this time, skin betting was exploding but exclusively done via unregulated and shady basement operations. We had already established a relationship with Lee Hills, an amazing licensing and regulatory affairs expert and quickly discovered it would be possible to create a viable structure for offering skin & cryptocurrency betting in a fully legal manner.
Early last year, we took on board former GosuGamers executives Boris Mihov and Alexander Ivanov as VP of Product and CTO respectively. We had struggled getting traditional investors on board, but at this point Mike was getting heavily into cryptocurrency trading being an early bitcoin adopter, and it became clear our vision was a great fit for this market.
We then ran a private presale of our token towards end of September, raising 483 BTC, setting the stage for the LuckCash Crowdsale taking place in February and allowing us to attract further top-tier talent such as Archie Watt (Head of Egaming @ KPMG) and Vadim Soloveychik (PokerStars Marketing Director) and many more… so
SBC: From an esports consumer perspective, in terms of dedicated betting platforms, what do you feel players want, and what has been delivered by industry incumbents to date?
LL: Most of the team at Luckbox love esports and we’ve also been sure to ask for constant input from esports fans in shaping our product. Esports fans, of course, want a safe and trustworthy platform but they also don’t like the idea of the traditional operators coming in and using them as a cash-cow want a genuine dedicated esports platform but with the same levels of quality that traditional operators offer football fans, for example.
SBC: Esports betting is still treated as a niche market by the majority of betting operators. What factors need to be overcome or achieved for esports to make its transition within betting?
LL: The big operators really need to invest in understanding esports, its depth and nuances. As you say, it’s treated in the most part as a niche market but the numbers speak for themselves. The total audience for 2016 was 370 million, with that expected to rise to 385 million. By 2020, it’s expected to reach 589 million, with revenue generated by esports expected to reach £1.1 billion.
Generally, esports is becoming more professional and aware of its own value as time goes on. Betting will follow and operators will align their efforts with that value. That’s why we are confident Luckbox will be a success.
SBC: As an esports enthusiast, what do you feel the betting industry does not understand with regards to esports, and how does this benefit your platform?
Answer: It’s the deep understanding about the section as a whole and then the subtleties within each vertical. Typically, it looks like traditional operators have added esports as an afterthought to their offering in a way that they would never do with, say football, golf or cricket. They also fail to embrace the highly social aspect of esports. We think Luckbox will thrive because we will show our knowledge and passion for esports as well as inviting players to engage with each other on our platform. Building a community is key.
SBC: Luckbox is unique in its funding structure, having raised its capital through Bitcoin. As founder of Luckbox, why did you choose this avenue for venture funding, above traditional formats?
LL: Mike and I entered the crypto community a couple of years ago and became increasingly immersed as time went on and the more we learnt about crowdsales, the more it became clear that it was a good option for us. Luckbox is embrace crypto in that we’ll have our own token (LuckCash) and we’ll accept deposits in crypto and we knew this would appeal to potential contributors. Crowdsales have had a fairly bad press but there have been many success stories and we felt, with the credibility of our team and the product, we could stand out from the rest as a legitimate offering for people who wanted to support us.
SBC: Furthermore, as founder of Luckbox, you have placed a firm emphasis on building Crypto utilities in the development of your platform. Why do you feel this is necessary and attractive for esports consumer engagement?
LL: The benefits of crypto generally are also those that make it a great option for gambling operators – not just for esports. Being able to deposit in, for example, Bitcoin and Ethereum removes payment friction for a lot of players. It’s quicker and cheaper for the operator and these savings can be passed on to the consumer. Blockchain tech is secure and transparent, too. A big factor for us is being able to attract players from previously inaccessible markets, where gambling is legal but payment processing is difficult or impossible, for example, some parts of Asia and Latin America.
SBC: Finally, can you detail Luckbox’s short term and long term goals for the rest of 2018?
LL: Our crowdsale takes place over the coming weeks and then we’ll spend the second quarter of the year continuing to develop the platform and building the team and infrastructure. We’re aiming for product launch in Q3 and, in later in 2018 will look to branch out in terms of licensing.
Lars Lien – CEO & Founder – Luckbox.com