The world of eSports betting is one that is growing in popularity with every year. As the demand for more eSports markets to be made available by bookmakers increases it could soon rival real-life sports markets in terms of appeal to punters.
One of the big attractions of eSports compared to real-life sports when it comes to betting is the fact that it can often be a far more lucrative market for the punters. The question that has to be asked is why is that the case?
What are e-Sports?
If you have followed eSports before then you will know they are not strictly sports-related. It is a sport in the form of being a competition. Granted, some e-Sports are actually sports-based such as the FIFA series but the majority of e-Sports are based on games such as Dota 2, League of Legends, and Counter-Strike.
The structure of these competitions is that teams made up of multiple players on each side will go up against each other on the platform of a popular multi-player game such as those mentioned above. The set-up of the competition could be the team that earns the most kills in a death match, the team that earn the most points in capture the flag, or the team that successfully completes the most amount of mission objectives and so on.
Events hosting e-Sports competitions have now become major attractions in their own right. Thousands of fans turn up to watch the events and bookmakers offer a range of markets relating to each match. It is an industry on the ascendancy.
E-Sports On The Rise
E-Sports have become big business. The first recorded e-Sports event took place on 19th October, 1972 at Stanford University when players battled it out on a game of Spacewar. The winner was awarded a year's subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. If you're even reading this article then you're probably too young to remember that game... and that year!
Since then, the obsession with e-Sports has snowballed almost to an uncontrollable level. E-Sports revenues during 2016 are expected to hit the $493 million mark. In terms of year-on-year growth, that is an increase of over 51%.
It is anticipated that revenues relating to e-Sports will hit $1 billion by 2019 and that does not even take into account betting revenues linked to the industry. It is likely that the figure will grow because betting on e-Sports is also in the rise.
Even though e-Sports betting is still very much in its early days its revenue has already surpassed that of golf, rugby, and tennis. There was also an expectation that betting on the next League of Legends World Championship would be greater than the betting that was placed on the outright winner of the 2016 European Championship.
Image Caption: The 2014 League of Legends World Championship attracted 40,000 spectators
The industry is attracting such a huge amount of attention and media hype that even professional football clubs are signing their own professional FIFA players. UK-based David Bytheway was signed by Bundesliga club Wolfsburg earlier this year to represent them at e-Sports competitions. Premier League club West Ham also signed a professional FIFA player in the form of Sean Allen.
This should come as no surprise when you see how far the industry has come since those days of the 1970s when magazine subscriptions were the ultimate prize. By 2020, it is projected that over 15,000 e-Sports tournament will offer a total prize fund in excess of $281 million.
Why Is e-Sports Betting So Big?
The biggest draw of e-Sports betting? Profit. It is estimated that $600 million has been wagered on e-Sports during 2016. This is anticipated to increase to $1.5 billion by the end of 2017 and $13 billion by 2020.
The e-Sports markets are still very much a trek into the unknown for the bookies. When it comes to major sports markets such as football and horse racing there is a wealth of expert knowledge aiding the bookies. Form, experience, and statistics give bookies a plethora of resources to use. More often than not, the bookies win. They are aware that upsets do happen. For instance, in the Premier League, a top team such as Arsenal can lose to a lower-placed side like West Ham. So the bookies know what odds to offer to cover the potential damage of such an upset without putting punters off betting on the outcome.
Image Caption: What does the future hold for e-Sports betting?
However, when it comes to e-Sports it is still a relatively unpredictable market. There is a decent-sized gap in ability between some teams that may well be offered at close to the value of their opposition. So you could find yourself backing a sure-thing at far greater odds than they should be available. This is simply because the bookies do not have the years of experience and statistics of e-Sports gaming to appreciate what the best odds for the bookmaker would be.
According to gaming expert Clare Gallagher from OnlineGambling.co.uk ''The punters actually seem to have a firmer grip and understanding of the e-Sports market than the actual bookmakers. In comparison, if you were playing at an online casino like it would be like moving from the house-favoured odds of blackjack to the less predictable odds of roulette.''
The e-Sports craze is only just beginning and it will not be long before the bookies catch on. So get on your research, bet on the e-Sports, and back a favourite because it is only a matter of time before the bookmakers catch up. Betting on e-Sports is more lucrative than betting on other sports but that won't necessarily last forever.