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October 18, 2019

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Gamers flocking to Las Vegas for ‘Fortnite’ tourney

Updated Monday, June 25, 2018 | 2:40 p.m.

Players of the video game phenomenon "Fortnite" will face off this weekend on the Strip, with about 100 people expected to take part in the Fortnite in the Park tournament from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday at Park MGM.

"Fortnite" players can win prizes from staycations at the New York-New York, certificates to restaurants inside the New York-New York and other goods.

"Fortnite" has more than 125 million participants worldwide, and the game’s developer, Epic Games, makes money off the free-to-play game via in-game purchases like player skins and dances. The object of the Battle Royale is 100 players enter a virtual world at the same time and they battle it out using various weapons, with the last player standing being the winner.

“The Battle Royale concept became really popular because it works across multiple platforms, it’s fun to play and a lot of influencers got involved and played,” said Rahul Sood, chief executive officer of Unikrn, the esports wagering service and the event’s co-sponsor. “It’s also fun to watch. If a game is fun to play it’s one thing, but if it’s fun to watch it’s another.”

Unikrn, with U.S. headquarters in Las Vegas, is the one of the first companies approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission to use their cryptocurrency, Unikoin, as prizes on esports tournaments, Sood said.

Unikrn can legally take bets on esports matchups in Europe, but for the markets they can’t, like in the U.S., the company wanted a figure out a way to incorporate the currency in matches worldwide. So, they created the cryptocurrency Unikoin Gold and a non-monetary currency, Unikoin Silver, to allow players to wager on the games.

When the cryptocurrency is won, it can be redeemed for prizes and jackpots via Unikrn’s website. The Unikoin Silver is nontransferable and cannot be sold to other players.

Unikrn has a preexisting relationship with MGM Resorts International, as they operate Fortnite Fridays at Level Up inside the MGM Grand. They will look to work with other casino operators in the future.

With the popularity of Unikoin Gold, which sold 130 million tokens last year, the company is working with the gaming industry in an attempt to have the cryptocurrency used in casinos, Sood said.

“Esports is of interest to many casinos, and given the nature of our business we do both spectator betting and skill betting,” he said. “With the (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) being lifted around the U.S., it’s going to get more interesting for companies to get into this space.”

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that betting on the live event will not be permitted. | (June 25, 2018)