eSports has been growing year-on-year and, inevitably, once betting companies got a foothold in the virtual world, it was always going to become another revenue stream.
Betting on eSports reached new highs in 2017 — and, as traditional bookmakers are finally catching up with the global phenomena, it’s only set to get bigger. eSports betting has been around for a few years, beginning on specialised sites but a few mainstream bookies are now involved and have dedicated sections for punters to get involved with the video gaming world.
It’s not surprising that it’s taken so long, as traditional high-street bookmakers tend to stick to the fields that they know — namely horseracing and football. But why the sudden change of heart? Why move into an area that could bring added risk?
It’s a case of keeping up with the times more than anything. Traditional sports will always have a place in our culture, but with the advent of eSports, if bookmakers want to keep bringing in new customers, they’re forced to follow current trends. Some companies even employ eSports experts in order to offer odds on all the biggest tournaments.
The League of Legends World Championship is one of the biggest events on the eSports calendar, and therefore one of the most popular events to place bets on. It’s possible to place bets on the tournament as well as the matches throughout the course of the season. League of Legends‘ popularity can be seen by the fact it attracted more viewers in the USA than either basketball’s NBA or baseball’s World Series in 2016 — an incredible 43 million unique viewers tuned in to watch.
Those numbers are enough to make anyone take note — and the betting industry has responded.
eSports is no longer seen as a pastime for ‘geeks’ and has moved into the mainstream, with leading TV networks now covering major events. Furthermore, while video games and eSports used to be seen as a male-dominated industry, it’s now estimated that over half of the general audience is female.
A few betting scandals involving the gaming section did thwart the industry’s progress, however, with a number of sites going under after failing to comply with the correct regulations. As the larger bookmakers have begun to accept eSports on their books though, these issues have been ironed out, allowing the industry to flourish. Betting firms dedicated to eSports have also sprung up, with Luckbox, a next-generation eSports betting platform that also uses cryptocurrency as a payment method, being one of the most popular.
According to industry experts, eSports will double its current audience to as many as 600 million people by 2020 and, as a result, betting on gaming will increase exponentially. Tournaments in real life venues regularly sell out while millions more watch online, and it is showing no signs of slowing down as technology and the games on offer continue to improve.