The global eSports market is set to hit $1.08 billion in total valuation based on data provided by Statista. This is not surprising given the recent surge in interest. The temporary hiatus we observed in traditional sports in 2020 also had an impact. Canceled sporting events caused many fans and sports bettors to realize that eSports are a great alternative.
Fans flocked to sports simulators such as FIFA and NBA2K. This shift isn’t creating fans, many are also becoming gamers themselves. The United States is making significant changes in how it treats eSports betting. The states of Nevada, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Wyoming have regulatory momentum to legalize betting on eSports.
This reflects the interest in the segment. It also promotes a regulatory understanding of the sector’s potential. With revenues expected to reach over $1 billion by 2024, lawmakers are seeking to establish a tax framework. Interest in eSports is surging across most of North America, Europe, and Asia. It brings a question of how betting on eSports impacts gaming? Thankfully for us, there are at least several good examples we can use to contextualize these two phenomena in relation to one another.
eSports Fans Have Always Been Bettors
eSports betting is a fairly new phenomenon. The term was first coined in the early 2020s. GosuGamers, a website dedicated to eSports introduced a friendly betting system using “tangoes”. Tangoes are consumables used in the popular eSports game Dota.
The site established a leaderboard that publicly tracked the betting activities. There was no monetary award for this first system. Bragging rights was the main motivator at the beginning.
It wasn’t before long that other companies jumped into the action. Pinnacle and Betway realized the potential of eSports as a promising market. Traditional sportsbooks began to provide eSports products. They hoped that inviting video gamers in would then automatically turn them into sports fans.
Pinnacle and Betway immediately understood the potential of eSports betting. They opened dedicated eSports sections of their websites. They have been the most successful websites for placing legal bets on video games.
Neither are not authorized as eSports betting platforms in the United States. Despite this, they have still set the correct attitude towards eSports betting. Video gamers do love to make a bet on their favorite teams, even more so than traditional sports fans, it turns out.
Is eSports Betting Driving Interest in Gaming?
eSports fans are generally part of younger demographics, with the average age being 26. Typically they have plenty of disposable income. It would not be accurate to argue that eSports betting is driving interest in video gaming.
This is the case in sports betting where the temptation of betting on a team has brought many fans back to sports. In eSports, it’s the other way around.
So, what exactly does eSports betting achieve? There is no denying that eSports betting leads to a much better level of engagement. Established eSports betting platforms make fans feel more involved with the game.
Then again, there are certain consumers who find eSports interesting purely as gamblers. Sports were canceled in 2020 and many sports bettors turned to eSports. Many started studying them in order to understand and bet on them. The most bet on eSports games as a result are:
- League of Legends
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- Dota 2
There seems to be a very high appreciation for simulator games. Even though these titles are not always called eSports to the average gamer. Nevertheless, it’s fair to say that betting has driven some of the interest in eSports and aided the industry’s development.
eSports Betting: A Nascent Industry Still
Despite the interest in the industry, eSports betting is only now getting started. There is no single study that can pinpoint how big the betting market is. Skin betting was initially heralded as the next big thing in betting. It is now avoided by most bettors. A section predicted to be worth billions as early as 2016 seemingly fizzled. The good news is that many jurisdictions are adopting eSports betting regulations. Some time is needed before we can assess the impact accurately.