Betting on eSports is all the rage these days and every week more operators allow their users to place wagers on competitive video gaming. By 2020, the total market size of this next generation’s favoured form of gambling is thought to be reach a huge $30 billion. With this in mind, it’s these first movers into the space that will likely reap the largest benefits.
In this article, I’ll be looking into the phenomenon that is eSports, the different ways players can bet on themselves or other gamers, and finally, the size of emerging League of Legends, DOTA 2, or Fortnite betting market. Let’s make a start!
What is eSports?
At its simplest, eSports is competitive video gaming. Of course, there isn’t really anything new about trying to beat your mates at any number of multiplayer games. Traditionally, this would involve sitting in the same room and taking turns at reaching the highest score on whichever title is agreed upon.
Since the internet exploded into our lives over the last three decades, advances in connection speeds and stability have opened whole new ways to game with other players from around the world. Whereas previously gamers would need to be in the same building, by connecting over a network such as the internet, suddenly players no longer need to know the first thing about one another – other than they like to play the same games!
Now that we’re in the age of Playstation 4 and Xbox One, pretty much every title going has some roaming multiplayer mode which allow players to get even more from their favourite games. It might be a case of building up an epic fortune worthy of Tony Montana himself on Grand Theft Auto, playing versus some random opponent on the other side of the world on FIFA, or having a full-scale battle royal with many global players on Fortnite.
Since playing video games competitively is almost as old a concept as the titles themselves, it was only a matter of time before people seized the opportunity presented by the internet and organised leagues for the biggest titles. Some of the most famous of these today are for titles such as League of Legends, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, DOTA 2, and Overwatch.
How Big is the eSports Market?
Since the start of its rapid evolution, eSports has been growing in popularity hugely. According to a report in Business Insider, the total revenue generated by competitions across the globe has grown from around $325 million in 2015 to $696 million in 2017. Based on current growth rates, this figure is set to more than double to almost $1.5 billion by 2020. This projection includes sponsorships of players, media rights, game publisher fees, merchandise, and tickets to events.
The technology that allowed for players from disparate corners of the globe to compete has also allowed for eSports to gain a sizeable following of supporters too. Many gamers stream themselves playing and have become celebrities for their skill with a joypad. Big league fixtures are also live streamed allowing for millions to view the action and for finals and other such events, fans can even show up to cheer on their favourite team in a more traditional looking sporting sight.
The phenomenon has grown so big that in 2015, the owners and players of NBA teams even started buying up eSports teams. However, spotting an altogether different opportunity, Dallas Maverick owner and dot-com entrepreneur Mark Cuban has decided to back a company called Unikrn which provides eSports betting services to the ever-growing market. Cuban’s interest and many other companies now offering eSports betting are hoping to tap into this massive and growing market.
How Do You Bet on eSports?
Betting on eSports can be a lot like betting on any sports online. You find a site that offers the market you want to bet on, sign up, deposit, and place a bet. Simple.
You might want to back your favourite team to win an entire league, or pick a correct score, or a victory margin – it’s really very similar to betting on any sporting event.
However, since arranging a tournament digitally is a lot easier than arranging one in the physical world, there are also opportunities for regular players to get involved themselves. Many websites host eSports tournaments that any players can join for a small fee. Just like a poker tournament, the eventual winner (and maybe some runners up) will take a split of the total prize pool generated. This affords an opportunity for players to monetise a passion they might have for gaming.
How Big is the eSports Betting Market?
Even with legalised sports betting being such a new feature in the lives of many people living in the luckiest of the US states, global wagering on eSports is thought to be worth a massive $6.7 billion in 2018. This figure comes courtesy of a joint report into the industry by software analytics firm Narus and research group Eilers & Krejcik Gaming.
Since eSports is such a big deal right now with younger generations, companies like Unikrn are hoping to turn on a whole new demographic onto gambling. It’s believed that as many as three quarters of Americans aged between 14 and 21 regularly watch or play online games. Meanwhile, half of adults under 30 enjoy being a spectator of eSports events.
Such a young viewership presents an opportunity for companies to lure a hard to target demographic onto betting. Many markets in the iGaming industry suffer from an aging clientele. Youngsters are much less interested in professional, real-world sporting fixtures than they once were. Given their obvious passion for this new form of sport, opportunities abound for the likes of Cuban and others investing in the rapidly growing pastime.
What’s more, competitive gaming is still something of an underground niche today. As it emerges further into the mainstream, it’s likely that more people will decide to take a punt on their favourite virtual team. With the US repealing earlier legislation and allowing the States to decide whether to offer bets on eSports, there could be a real boom in the sector right around the corner.