According to Deloitte, the eSports industry has shown a year-over-year growth rate of 836 percent. This means that between 2017 and 2018, investments in the eSports industry doubled, with current eSports net worth estimated somewhere around $1.8 billion.
Given all the growth and activity surrounding eSports, it’s no surprise that betting on competitive gaming has also seen a meteoritic rise. eSports compared to athletic sports pair well together—after all, both embody a competitive spirit that’s been harnessed to an appropriate playing field.
Like major league sports, particularly Europe’s football club fanaticism, eSports has also transformed into a punter’s paradise. Like other major leagues that draw in huge fanbases, the bets in eSports are varied, but that isn’t the only way the two industries intersect when it comes to wagering on League of Legends or the Super Bowl.
One major similarity between both sectors of betting is their legal ambiguity in the United States. Neither form of betting has been regulated in more than a handful of states, with eSports a particular standout as the latest complex issue posed by MMO communities.
For example, top sports betting site Foxbet, which offers a wide range of wagers for all major sports, is fully regulated in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Colorado, while the eSports betting site GG.BET is only regulated in the state of Maine.
Meanwhile, offshore betting sites have consistently presented major problems for local legislative bodies. In terms of both eSports and sports betting, their future in the US relies heavily on each state’s ability to integrate (or banish) legalized betting platforms.
However, it seems only a matter of time before this type of legal articulation finds a way to regulate and profit from legal betting for both industries.
Types of Events
Unlike major sports leagues throughout the world, some of which got their start in the 19th century, eSports global governing bodies remain in a dead-lock between groups like the eSports Integrity Coalition to the International Center for Sport Security.
No one is quite sure who stands as the highest authoritative body regarding the eSports industry, and with massive global popularity, there doesn’t seem to be a natural capital that would handle issues such as regulation and rules.
More than 380 million people now play eSports every year. Leagues can be organized on a professional level—but they can also be organized by players themselves. Streaming services like Twitch.tv and Mixer have afforded individual gamers, such as Ninja, with massive amounts of autonomy, which means that typical eSports leagues aren’t necessary to make it as a top gamer.
In general, eSports bets occur similarly to physical sports betting—it all depends on the ‘sport’ being played. Bets can be placed on, say, the NBA season as a whole. Or, they can be placed on individual players or games.
In eSports, a punter needs to decide what game they’re going to bet on first. There are quite a few to choose from: fighting games, like Street Fighter; first-person shooter games, like CounterStrike; or multiplayer online battle arena, which is played by teams in a massive arena-setting who control a single ‘hero’ in the game; racing games, like iRacing; and, of course, sports games, like NBA 2K20.
Right now, sports leagues benefit from uniform rules and regulations. However, given the recent skyrocket of eSports, each large arena tournament (such as the 2019 World Championship of League of Legends) posts its own manifesto and code of conduct.
Differences in Betting
One major difference between the eSports and sports betting industries is the diversity of games. As different as the PGA Tour is from horse racing, there is an unfathomable variety of video games, from the realistic to the fantastic.
In terms of individual bets, this means that betting sites and eSportsbooks have limitless options as they navigate the new world of eSports betting. The more diverse the bets, the larger the appeal.
Additionally, the eSports industry is currently receiving a massive influx of investment. Some of this money even comes from major sports leagues like the NBA and NFL, who are investing in eSports leagues.
As investment increases, so do the resources available to eSports professionals. Not to mention, the prize money to be had at big tournaments also balloons. While this may seem unrelated to the betting side of eSports, it does indicate a healthy financial ecosystem around the budding industry, whose growth is yet uncharted.