This is a paid guest post.
Five years ago, esports betting was nothing like it is today. A few sportsbooks would let you bet real money on video game competitions. However, the industry was dominated by unregulated skin gambling sites.
These companies had no age limits or rules to protect players. If you had a Steam account and skins to gamble, you qualified to be a customer. For better or for worse, though, skin betting sites lost popularity.
Instead, real money esports betting websites gained popularity. They are legal, regulated, and have tons of rules that govern how they operate. As a result, they’ve grown so popular that they are dominating the sports betting scene in 2020. Here’s why.
Let’s face it. Esports is far from being the most popular sport in the world. That position belongs to football. It’s not even close to matching basketball, American football, or baseball’s popularity.
But this year, most of these sports are on a hiatus. The NBA canceled games immediately a player was diagnosed with the ongoing pandemic. Baseball and European football leagues followed suit quickly.
With many traditional leagues canceled, sports betting sites had to fill that void by providing alternative betting markets. Some companies chose to let people wager on weather conditions. Others provide table tennis from Ukraine.
However, esports has turned out to be the sport of choice for many sportsbooks. That’s because it’s easier to predict. Tournaments are taking online weekly and attracts more attention than all other games still in action.
Online Gaming is on the Rise
Sports leagues cancellation and government lockdowns mean one thing. People are finding new ways to get entertained. Among sports fans, playing video games and watching streamers on Twitch is the best new hobby.
But you know what’s more exciting than watching CS: GO matches? Watching CS: GO after you’ve placed a bet on the bookies. Just anyone who bets on sports. Admittedly, games become more exciting after you’ve wagered on them.
Perhaps it’s due to the adrenaline rush you develop as you cheer your favorite team. Or maybe it’s the anxiety that comes with betting on sports. Whatever it is, people love to bet on sports. And now that esports is the most available sport, it will continue to dominate betting markets until the pandemic is over.
Similarities with Traditional Betting
There’s a reason more people are attracted to betting on FIFA20 and League of Legends than predicting the weather. These games provide the same types of bets you get from basketball, football, and baseball.
- Match winners
Action games might have different terms for outcomes. For example, totals involve predicting the number of kills made or maps collected. But in general, they are straightforward to understand if you regularly bet on traditional sports.
Unsurprisingly, bookmakers are reporting an increase in the number of esports bet made through sports simulation games. Precisely, bets from FIFA20 and NBA 2K are mushrooming tremendously.
More Licenses for Esports Betting Sites
Some operators might be trying to capitalize on the absence of traditional sports. Others believe esports betting will continue to dominate markets post the pandemic. Whatever the case, the UKGC is reportedly dealing with a rise in new applications this year.
A significant number of these applications target esports, proving there’s a growing market for video game betting. Indeed, there’s a spike in esports betting since the start of March. But does it warrant all the new licenses?
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Changing Esports Demographics
A few years ago, no one would have denied that the majority of esports fans were young millennials and Generation Z. That’s not the case anymore. Today, the average gamer is 34 years—still a millennial.
However, there’s a rise in the number of boomers turning to online gaming for entertainment. Many of these players make up a significant portion of sports bettors. Unsurprisingly, they are leading the wave of people betting on video game competitions.
Crucially, many new esports fans are career-driven men and women with disposable income. They have a passion for sports and regularly spend their money to attend live tournaments or to bet.
Will these new fans continue to support esports post the pandemic? Time will tell. However, many sportsbooks believe people won’t stop to follow esports even after traditional sports come back on TV.
Support from Traditional Sports League
The NBA might not be holding games presently. But for several weeks, it organized NBA 2K games played by players from each of the league’s thirty-two games. NASCAR has been doing the same through eNASCAR iRacing.
Around the world, major sports have taken a similar approach to entertaining their fans. Of course, some of these competitions have also involved bookmakers who’ve been promoting their esports betting departments.
In other words, it’s not just esports event organizers promoting their games. Major sports leagues are encouraging their fans to get on board with online gaming.
The Growth of Mobile Betting
Before 2020, esports betting was growing steadily. Back then, the sport credited Internet penetration and a global increase in mobile usage for its growth. These two factors are still pushing esports ahead, albeit with the addition of mobile betting.
Many people who use smartphones to play online games or to watch esports tournaments also use them for betting. In some countries, mobile betting makes up 80% of how people wager on sports.
In these regions, esports betting will continue to grow thanks to people using their phones to predict markets. Luckily, many modern sportsbooks support betting on both android and iOS devices.
In many cases, there’s no need to download an app from Play Stores. Instead, players just have to create betting accounts through mobile browsers.