The eSports industry that combines digital gaming with the atmosphere and excitement of traditional sporting events is a growing one. The last five years or so has seen a big increase in the number of games and competitions there are, while the prize money to be won and audiences have also been on the way up. Indeed, the industry is at that tipping point where it is starting to impact on other ones, such as the online gambling sector.
Sports betting has been one of the successes of the internet era, leading to new bookmakers emerging online pretty regularly. Thus, we are talking about two growth industries here, which usually means that if there is any possibility for a crossover between the two; those leading each industry will try to find a way to make it happen. As an activity, eSports began simply as groups of games lovers getting together to organise what became known as LAN parties that saw them stage friendly competitive battles over the latest video games. Now it is an industry that is reputed to be worth $900 million and that has proper leagues and tournaments that players enter to win. The growth of eSports looks unstoppable at the moment and by 2022, the global eSports profits are predicted to hit around $1.8 billion, compared with $130 million back in 2012.
This has blurred the line between eSports and normal sports, as many now view the former as a legitimate form of sporting activity, with the result that many in the sports betting world are looking into the possibilities for eSports betting. That is something that is already happening – as betting on eSports really got underway with what is known as ‘skin betting’ on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Most of this ‘skin’ betting on eSports is technically illegal though, with prominent gaming sites such as Valve banning it, so the eSports world is still waiting for legitimate gambling options.
The sports-book companies are showing a real interest in getting involved in it though, which is understandable given the rising profit margins, and this makes it likely that the eSports leagues and tournaments will become part of their betting offer. There is huge potential for money to be made within both industries if this happens, as the customers who currently bet on traditional sports are likely to become more interested in eSports if online bookmakers are taking bets on them. Equally, the sports bet sites themselves will open up another revenue stream. Betting is currently regarded by many eSports observers as an opportunity to be grabbed and it will surely be the online sports bet sites that are the ones to do so.
The rise of the eSports industry is clearly interesting companies within the sports betting one as there is obvious potential for the two to join forces to lucrative effect. It hasn’t really happened yet, but it almost certainly will sooner rather than later