Gambling and eSports

Sports betting has been around since people first began challenging each other to prove who was the best at hitting/kicking/heading/throwing a ball or taking/receiving a punch to the head or running really, really fast or jumping really, really high … you get the idea.

Once two or more people gathered to test themselves against others, there was a person saying, “I bet he/she/they will win”. And another person going “Oh yeah? I’ll take that action!”.

The future of sports betting? Gambling and eSports on the rise

While we are all very familiar with the bookies and their odds on boxing or horseracing or football, there is another sport that is starting to gain some very lucrative traction in the sports betting market: eSports.

It may seem odd or even sacrilegious to traditional sports fans to include an electronic game session in a sports conversation but make no mistake, these up-and-coming stars are becoming recognised as competitive athletes with all the training, coaching, hours dedicated to practicing, diet and exercise regimes normally only seen in top tier athletes.

And it’s starting to attract some big attention from gamblers.

What are eSports?

eSports or electronic sports are a form of competition using video games. Individuals or teams compete against each other for (often very significant) prize pools in various sports or games.

The games themselves are hugely diverse and can include anything from classic arcade style games like Street Fighter to first person shooter games like Counter Strike to battle arena games like League of Legends.

There are also eSports dedicated to actual sports like basketball, soccer and Formula One. In fact, there was a Virtual Formula One Grand Prix quite recently.

Gambling and eSports games

Are eSports that popular?

You have no idea.

Lockdown during the Covid pandemic saw the cancellation of most sports and sporting tournaments – and an insane rise in the viewing of eSports tournaments.

The 2019 League of Legends World Championship had over 100 million watchers, with the daily record sitting at 44 million people. Compare that to the 2019 Wimbledon Men’s Final, an elite sporting event, with its peak viewership at 9 million!

Fortnite, an arena battle game, averages around 78 MILLION players PER MONTH!

So yes, eSports have definitely found an audience.

So how does gambling fit in with eSports?

As mentioned above, as soon as people are testing their skills against each other, someone is going to make book.

There are a bunch of well-known sports betting shops and online casinos that now offer betting on eSports. Paddy Power, Bet365 and Betway are international eSports betting players and local outfits like Sunbet, World Sports Betting and Hollywood Bets are also in on the action.

Online casinos, in general, are not really playing in the sports betting realm and therefore don’t offer the full eSports opportunity.

Which is not going to last long because the eSports betting industry was forecast to be worth $16 BILLION at the end of 2020.

Is eSports betting legal?

Yes, it is – if you are betting through a registered online casino or sports betting outlet. eSports are no different to other sports and the rules on gambling are the same as any sports betting.

What are the biggest eSports tournaments?

If you want to try out eSports betting, you need to get a feel for eSports. And you need to catch one or two of the biggest eSports events out there. 2020 saw a bit of a dip in the prize pools for eSports, due in large part to a drop in live events and the associated advertising. Compare the $65.5 million in prizes over 2020 to the $211 million of 2019!

Gambling and eSports

Dota 2: The International – prize pool 2019: $34,000,000+

Fortnite

Fortnite World Cup Finals – prize pool 2019 $30,000,000+

Pubg

PUBG Main Event – prize pool 2021 $7,000,000+

Call of Duty

Call of Duty League Championship – prize pool 2020 $4,000,000+

And these are just single events in many tournaments that happen around the world.

Is it all about battles and space and dungeons & dragons?

While the most popular eSports tournaments are very much in the battle arena space and feature fantasy, sci-fi or combat themes, they are most certainly not the only options available.

As mentioned previously, there are a bunch of tournaments that are based on real sports and even feature real players as characters. Games like FIFA, F1 Esports and NBA 2k are made with such detail that watching the tournaments is almost (almost) like watching your favourite football, motorsport or basketball heroes in action.

Are there dangers to gambling and eSports?

The biggest danger to gambling and eSports is the young age of many eSports fans.

As with any gambling activity, you must be over a certain age to bet on eSports (usually 18 or over). Unfortunately, many unscrupulous betting sites are targeting the youngsters who follow eSports – especially on social media.

Apart from that, gamblers should follow the usual warnings and tips of any game of chance for real money: play responsibly, stick to a budget and walk away if not going your way.