The Growth of eSports Gaming
Go back to the turn of the milennium and few people would have considered video gaming a sport and even fewer would have thought about betting on it. However, a lot has changed since then. While online sports wagering has grown at an incredible rate, the popularity of competitive video gaming (eSports) has also exploded causing the two industries to cross paths. Sports and eSports are now bedfellows in the world of sports wagering.
The eSports wagering pheomenon
To give you an idea how big eSports have grown, the event known as The International, where players compete in the video game Dota 2, had an overall prize pool of over $34m in 2019 – the biggest ever for a video game competition. In the same year, over $8 billion was wagered on eSports as traditional sports bookmakers continued adding eSports markets to their portfolios and a number of specialist eSports betting sites were launched. This is the new reality of an industry where the very best gamers can now earn millions and live the kind of lifestyle usually reserved for professional football players.
For the first time in Dota history the reigning champions have defended their crown. The team that defied the odds to win last year, has reclaimed the Aegis of Champions in The International 2019. OG close the Grand Final series in a commanding 3-1 finish. #Dota2 #TI9 pic.twitter.com/ESaHeRjkpP
— The International (@dota2ti) August 25, 2019
An attractive proposition for bookmakers
The eSports industry is set-up in a simple way: Teams play games developed by publishers at events organised by production companies which are distributed on platforms such as Twitch directly to the fans. These events also have live crowds and are often hosted in huge arenas. This system supports several industries and also presents huge opportunities for generating revenue through sponsorship, advertising, broadcasting and of course sports wagering.
When you realise that the global video game market generates more money ($180m) than the global film and US sports industries combined, it’s no surprise that the global sports betting giants have moved in for a piece of the action.
A new concept in wagering
Today, eSports sit alongside traditional sports on subscription TV channels and appear in the sports lists on most reputable bookmaker’s websites. ESports betting is growing all the time with fixed odds betting and an ever-growing number of in-play markets available. There are also specialist sites where gamers can wager on the outcome of professional matches using in-game items such as ‘skins’ as a virtual currency. This is particularly popular with the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive community. Other sites allow customers to play games such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2, and place wagers on themselves.
Not only has eSports muscled in on traditional sports wagering but it has actually pioneered new betting concepts that could be adopted elsewhere and help shape the industry.