The eSports market has boomed in recent years with more and more viewers tuning in to watch their favorite games being played by some of the best gamers in the world. By 2022, there are expected to be almost 300 million frequent viewers of eSports worldwide, a vast increase from the 58 million in 2012. Additionally, some 347 million people are forecast to be occasional viewers of eSports by 2022. The potential of this relatively new market should not be underestimated, especially with regard to online sports betting.
Only one example for the huge popularity of eSports is the ESL One in Germany, with 20,000 sold tickets and over 25 Mio. viewers online. Despite these numbers, Europe only ranks second based on frequent eSports viewer share in 2019. According to the estimates, over half of the world’s frequent eSports viewers and enthusiasts can be found in Asia Pacific, of which 61% are currently under the age of 35.
This ever growing market also holds incredible potential when it comes to eSportsbook betting, which generally falls into two main categories: cash betting and skin betting (“skins” being virtual items that can be used within video games, usually for cosmetic purposes). Players trade skins via betting sites and use them as virtual casino tokens. While skin betting has been the most popular of the two, recent controversies and legal challenges have put downward pressure on the skin betting market, paving the way for cash betting to emerge.
The amounts wagered worldwide on eSports betting are steadily growing, starting from 315 million U.S. dollars back in 2015 to 7 billion in 2018, wich is estimated to double by 2020. The base projection for the amount of customers placing esports wagers in 2020 is 6.5 Million.
When its comes to the games themselves, the most popular eSports game on the gambling market was League of Legends, as approximately 38 percent of the total eSportsbook amount wagered was attributed to bets placed on LoL. This is followed by Counter-Strike : Global Offernsive (CS:GO), with 29 percent of the betting volume (2016).
As the rapidly growing phenomenon surrounding eSports continues to gather steam, the intersection of gaming and sports offers an innovative wave of branding opportunities, engaging content and activations for millions across the world. In this context, one of the most significant challenges will be legislation. Since it is an emerging industry, many jurisdictions lack clear rules to regulate the eSports gambling sector, especially in the case of player age verification and skin gambling.
An upcoming trend for the gaming industry will also be presenting the players with an eSportsbook offer that differs from traditional sportsbooks. As this new player demographic cannot be compared to traditional sports bettors, new concepts have to be developed to cater to the requirements of eSports betting.
The sportsbook offer of ARLAND’s new software, Bookmaker NEXT, already supports a number of eSports, such as Dota 2, League of Legends and Counter-Strike. In the near future, ARLAND will also be working on new sportsbook concepts, dedicated to eSports fans.