The most popular sporting events in the betting market are football, basketball, American football and baseball. Esports are far down the list but have been growing in popularity even before the pandemic opened this entertainment industry to a wider audience. From 2018, gaming revenues have been growing at almost 10 percent each year. In mid-2019, researchers estimated that the global video game market would be worth almost USD200 billion by 2022. Then the 2020 pandemic arrived, which revised upwards the gaming revenue estimate to over 11 percent annually and gross win from esports betting is expected to grow 39 percent in 2020, to reach USD343 million, according to the Esports Insider (ESI) Gambling Report.
Esports betting similar to traditional betting
Putting a wager on FIFA20 or NBA 2K is similar to any traditional bet placed on soccer, basketball or other team game. The increased interest in these games has been harnessed by esports betting which includes match winners, totals, props and spreads/handicaps. Whilst action games, like League of Legends, are different in the sense the wagers are on the number of kills made or maps collected, they are generally easy to understand for those used to traditional betting.
Cancellation of live sporting events
Esports betting has grown significantly in the last few years, even before the pandemic, though few legal sportsbooks would accept real money bets on video game competitions. When the NBA canceled games in early 2020, followed soon after by other major leagues including European soccer, the search for alternative entertainment attracted new people to esports and esports betting. The year-on-year growth rate in revenues from esports betting accelerating from 60 percent in the last two weeks of March to 100 percent in the period 1-10 April, reflecting more operators offering and promoting esports as a betting proposition.
A new form of entertainment
During the lockdown, esports filled the sports and sports betting void for thousands. As anyone knows, a game is far more exciting if there is a wager you have put money on it. Whilst the restrictions around the 2020 pandemic continue to rise, the new interest in esports continues and is expected to be maintained in future years, with sports broadcasters like ESPN which has been offering League of Legends (LoL), Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Valorant and more for years. LoL, CS:GO and Dota 2 still represent around 95 per cent of all esports betting activity even with the introduction of other esports.
More licensed esports betting sites
2020 will be famous for its lack of traditional sporting events, but even when live sporting action returns, it is expected that esports will continue to grow and esports betting is on track to dominate the markets post-pandemic. Licensing authorities are said to be receiving a higher number of license applications, with many targeting esports and aiming to attract boomers – with their disposable income – as well as the traditional esport demographics of young millennials and Generation Z. By 2024, H2 is projecting the market to grow its share of global betting from 1.6 percent in 2019 to 3.2 percent by 2024.
Esports has been growing due to the increased use of mobile gaming and viewing. With people unable to use land-based bookies during the 2020 lockdown, mobile betting has taken up around 80 percent of the betting market in some countries, through both android and iOS devices. In many cases betting accounts can be created without the need to download an app, but simply through mobile browsers.