The Esports gambling industry has been rising over the past few years. It’s gone from an obscure betting activity to one that’s featured at numerous online sportsbooks.
However, Esports gambling still isn’t anywhere near the popularity of traditional sports like baseball, basketball, football, and soccer (internationally).
It might seem like esports betting is destined for secondary status. However, there are some big reasons why this type of wagering is set to explode. Below you can see seven reasons why it’ll become the next big thing in gambling.
This post is mostly about the betting side of esports. However, I’d like to start by discussing the fast growth of the overall industry.
Esports have been around in some form or another since the 1970s. The first-ever esports tournament was a Space War competition at Stanford University.
It took a long time for competitive video gaming to go from these humble beginnings to where it is now. In fact, esports didn’t really start gaining traction until 2010 – well over three decades after the Stanford U. tournament.
Nowadays, the industry is highlighted by major tournaments like Dota 2’s “The International” and League of Legends’ World Championship.
This is no longer a backroom activity that’s enjoyed by a few college students. Instead, esports is filled with multimillion-dollar tournaments, famous pros, and big sponsorships.
This mix of factors has led esports tourneys to become bigger than ever. For example, Dota 2’s The International 2018 featured a $21 million prize pool.
Massive events aren’t the only sign of growth. Tournaments are now held across dozens of different video games, which has drawn more fans into the fold.
Of course, industry growth doesn’t directly lead to more bets. But common sense tells us that more esports fans are a good thing for the gambling sector.
Speaking of fans, viewership for online sports streaming is higher than ever. Over 200 million people watch these competitions daily. By 2020, more than 300 million people are expected to view esports events each day.
Certain sports and other competitions are specially made for betting. Esports appears to be among this group, because its gambling sector’s growth is expected to outpace the actual industry.
In 2017, market intelligence company Newzoo discussed how the global esports audience could total almost 589 million people by 2020. They also foresee total esports revenues growing from $325 million (2016) to $1.49 billion by 2020.
What’s really interesting, though, is what they forecast for esports gambling revenue. Newzoo mentions how the NFL generated $13 billion in 2016, while the gambling side generated $50 billion (over 4x higher).
They believe that esports betting will follow a similar trajectory. If true, this would lead to approximately $6 billion in gambling revenue based on the regular industry’s projected earnings.
Of course, this is just an analysis right now. Video game betting will still need to actually continue its growth in order to see anywhere near $6 billion in bookmaking revenue next year.
But then again, Newzoo did put quite a bit of work into their 100+ page report. It, therefore, seems like a pretty good projection.
For years, online bookmakers were hesitant to embrace competitive video game gambling. However, most betting sites have since come around to feature esports gambling.
In fact, it’s a challenge to find a bookmaker that doesn’t offer esports betting. Bookmakers – both big and small – prominently feature esports alongside traditional sports.
Today’s situation differs from several years ago, when betting sites only offered this type of gambling during a major event. It was still easy to make wagers on League of Legends (LoL) World Championship, but you’d be hard-pressed to find action on many other tourneys.
Luckily, minimal options isn’t a problem today. The average betting site offers action across at least several esports.
Almost any betting site you visit will feature LoL, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, and Overwatch among their offerings. The biggest esports betting sites even allow you to place bets on more-obscure esports, such as Super Smash Bros. and Street Fighter II.
You should, of course, investigate any bookmaker you’re thinking of signing up with to ensure that they have your favorite esports on tap. But the good news is that you’ll find the most-popular games virtually everywhere.
Live wagering is in many ways driving the sports betting industry these days. Most bookmakers now feature separate “Sports” and “Live Betting” links at the top of their homepages.
Live betting allows you to place bets as a competition is happening. For example, you can bet on which esports team will win the next round while the match is taking place. Compare this to standard betting, where you can only place wagers before a match begins.
In-play betting offers a new level of excitement for gamblers. The only problem, though, is that esports live betting isn’t as prominent as many other sports.
For example, you’ll find dozens of live bets available for any NFL game. Unfortunately, you won’t find hardly any live esports wagers outside of the major tournaments.
This is set to change, though, due to the sheer popularity of competitive video gaming. With over 200 million people currently watching esports every day, it’s clear that there’s a market for in-play betting.
The streaming aspect goes hand-in-hand with what bookmakers have to offer. More betting sites are now featuring live streaming, which allows esports fans to both bet on and watch competitions directly from a sportsbook.
It’s difficult to say what level of popularity esports in-play betting will attain. However, it will undoubtedly become available on a more regular basis at some point.
Much of what I’ve discussed so far has to do with online sportsbooks. After all, betting sites offer the ultimate convenience when it comes to placing wagers.
However, land-based casinos are also starting to capitalize on video gaming. One obvious way they’re doing so is by adding esports betting options at their sportsbooks.
An even more-impactful measure that they’re taking involves creating esports arenas. Las Vegas’ Luxor made big headlines when they opened the 30,000-square-foot HyperX Arena.
Of course, casinos don’t have to build a massive arena just to benefit. They can simply host an esports event in one of their available conference rooms or any other empty area.
Casinos have complained about the lack of millennials who are playing slot machines. Given that slots are the big breadwinners for casinos, this is a big problem for the industry.
What millennials do enjoy, though, is esports. Male millennials are especially into competitive gaming, given that they make up most of the streaming audiences.
Casinos are fully aware of the impact that esports can have. Millennials who visit to watch esports competitions are more likely to spend money in other areas of the casino.
Esports betting might sound intimidating to those who aren’t up on the latest PC and console games. However, anybody with a background in sports gambling can quickly make the transition.
Esports wagering uses the same type of odds and bets as traditional sports gambling. The only differences include the teams, players, and leagues involved.
If you’re well-versed with bet types like moneylines, point spreads, and totals, then you won’t have much to learn in terms of sports betting basics. You’ll be able to make a seamless transition if you also understand the different odds, including American, decimal, and fractional.
Assuming you’re used to using online sportsbooks, betting on esports will feel like second nature. Video game lines are laid out in the same fashion as any other sport, so you won’t have any difficulties in this department either.
Beating sports betting on a consistent basis is difficult. Bookmakers have had decades to thoroughly learn how to set and move lines for traditional sports.
Esports gambling, on the other hand, is a much-newer activity. Competitive video gaming is just now starting to ramp up.
Anybody who’s tired of struggling to beat sports gambling or other skill-based gaming activities will appreciate video games.
Bookmakers aren’t quite as sharp when setting esports lines right now. Therefore, you have an opportunity to gain some value by betting on competitive gaming.
You also have a chance to become an expert in an emerging form of gambling. Esports betting isn’t anywhere near its peak, giving you plenty of time to learn the players and teams for your benefit.
I’m not saying that you’ll jump into esports gambling and suddenly start making a six-figure salary. However, you stand a decent chance of profiting if you put some work into the matter.
Esports betting might be on the rise, but it still has some hurdles to overcome right now. I fully believe that it will clear these roadblocks and become far more popular. But here are the main things holding it back for the time being.
Sports betting has thoroughly infiltrated the culture of certain countries. The UK, for example, has featured a regulated sports betting market for decades.
Other countries, such as the United States, are just now figuring out how to handle this form of gambling. While regulation is good from a long-term perspective, sports betting and other forms of gambling are going to experience growing pains.
New Jersey provides a perfect example of the specific challenges that face esports. The Garden State initially excluded video game gambling from their regulated sports betting market.
State politicians cited that some esports tournaments feature competitors who are younger than 18. They only later rescinded this decision and made another rule.
Now, New Jersey residents and visitors can gamble on esports as long as all of the competitors are 18+ years old. While this sounds like a mere formality, some esports competitions feature players as young as 13.
It’s unclear what many other states will do with the activity. After all, the Garden State was the earliest into the legalized sports betting industry.
Perhaps New Jersey will set a precedent for how to handle esports gambling and other states will follow suit. However, other places might also ban this form of gambling like New Jersey did to start.
Beyond how certain states handle the matter, regulation will slow the spread of esports betting. It will likely take years before video game gambling spreads across the US and many other countries.
Earlier I highlighted how esports gambling is available across over a dozen games. Unfortunately, many potential markets are still excluded.
Dota 2, LOL, Overwatch, and CS:GO already draw plenty of bettors. However, those who prefer some of the obscure esports will be disappointed to find that they can’t bet on these games.
Traditional sports gambling offers an impressive array of markets, ranging from basketball and football to handball and table tennis.
Esports has yet to get anywhere close to this level of variety. Bookmakers currently only feature the most popular games, along with a few other esports.
I’m almost positive that there’ll be more markets available within the next five years. However, the current reality is that most sites don’t have more than a handful of available games to bet on.
Sports betting strategy has become very in depth over the past couple of decades. There are a few factors that have helped Sports gambling strategy grow:
You’ll have no shortage of available tools with regard to improving at sports betting. Unfortunately, esports gambling doesn’t offer nearly as many resources.
You can still find solid resources that’ll help you improve at betting on video games. However, you definitely won’t find the same volume of strategy materials.
The esports world is especially lacking in software programs. Perhaps the companies that make these programs haven’t yet seen enough reason to compile detailed esports stats.
Whatever the case may be, you’ll have more difficulty coming up with advanced stats for esports gambling.
Millennials are driving esports popularity. They not only comprise the bulk of professional players, but also the vast majority of fans.
Meanwhile, most gamblers aged 35+ pay little attention to competitive gaming. They’re instead more focused on traditional sports wagering.
Esports popularity will continue growing along with its core audience, which includes millennials and Generation Z.
But for the time being, the wealthiest and most-frequent sports bettors are Generation X and Baby Boomers. These age groups don’t appear ready to jump on the esports bandwagon anytime soon.
Old or young, some people are just skeptical about gambling on video games. They may not feel confident in their skills, or simply want to stick with what they know.
It’s perfectly natural to feel intimidated by a newer form of betting. Some gamblers may have a passing interest in video games, but they don’t feel completely comfortable gambling on them.
One reason why these betters are apprehensive about sports gambling is the lack of defined strategy. I just covered how esports betting doesn’t have as many articles and software programs dedicated to it.
Of course, anybody can use their knowledge of the teams and players along with basic handicapping to place bets. But the crowd that likes using advanced stats to spot trends may continue to be apprehensive about Esports betting.
Esports gambling is still on the fringe of the overall betting industry. It doesn’t draw anywhere near the type of action that prominent sports like football and basketball do.
However, this should definitely change in the near future. The esports industry is experiencing accelerated growth, with bigger and bigger tournaments every year.
The betting action should follow in terms of popularity for multiple reasons. In fact, the aforementioned Newzoo marketing study predicts that it’ll outpace the actual industry’s revenue by a large margin.
More bookmakers offering esports is one reason for the lofty projections. Once apprehensive about this type of gambling, bookmakers are now fully committed to serving gamblers.
The growth of esports live betting will be another driving force. In-play esports wagering isn’t very prevalent now, but it’ll undoubtedly become bigger in the coming years. After all, video games go perfectly with the increased live streaming at online sportsbooks.
Land-based casinos are also getting into the act. They’re either building dedicated esports arenas or thinking of ways that they can host events.
Current sports gamblers won’t feel too intimidated by esports betting. It’s practically the same, aside from the players and teams.
Only time will tell what truly happens with esports gambling. But for the time being, it seems set for a very bright future.
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