Evolution is a norm in the gambling industry. From land-based casinos to live online betting platforms, the industry has continually found ways to match the demands of the ever-growing population of gamblers. The latest addition to this industry is eSports betting.
What is eSports?
eSports is a multiplayer video game competition that is currently gaining massive popularity worldwide. In the past, hardcore gamers would link up over LAN or the internet and compete against each other over extended periods for fun. Today, the world of eSports has become a fully-fledged industry, with professional gamers and a variety of global tournaments and leagues.
As of now, the estimated value of the Esports industry is $900 million. With the concept gaining traction by the day, this value will undoubtedly increase in the future. Live video game streams will get even more viewers, and the prize monies will increase substantially as well.
The gambling industry is aware of the booming business in the eSports sector, which explains the rising number of related offerings in the global betting space. Indeed, studies indicate that the eSports gambling sector could have a value of $30 billion by 2020. Given that eSports is still an upcoming industry, such an estimate suggests that the future is bright for eSports betting.
How to bet on eSports
eSports betting has two main categories – cash betting and skin betting. Of the two, cash betting is the most prevalent, and it comes in three options – eSportsbook, Fantasy eSports, and head-to-head.
eSportsbook betting is similar to regular sports betting where players stake cash wagers on the outcome of Esports matches. There are several markets under this category, depending on the video game in question.
For example, if it is a basketball eSports game, like NBA 2K, a player can be on the outright winner, the number of points scored and so on. There is also a provision for live betting, where the bettor predicts the outcome of a game in real-time.
Fantasy esports betting resembles other fantasy games, where players create fantasy sports teams and compete against others in a point-based scoring system. The players with the best performing team win the prize. In most cases, points are allocated according to the real-life performance of the players in the fantasy team. These competitions can be a one-off, a tournament or a league.
Head-to-head eSports betting refers to players betting on the outcomes of the matches they played against each other. Although eSportsbook is currently the most dominant, fantasy and head-to-head betting will soon gain traction as the market matures.
Skin betting centres on ‘skins,' which are virtual elements of a video game that change the appearance of in-game items such as weapons and avatars. Gamers 'sell' skins through betting sites and use them as virtual casino tokens. Previously, skin betting was more widespread than cash betting in eSports.
However, the popularity waned due to multiple controversies and legal issues. Some players who won skins would sell them for real cash, which prompted criticism that it was a form of unlicensed gambling.
Betting online on eSports
Betting websites offer a platform for passionate eSports fans to bet on their favourite teams. The majority of these websites have an interface that displays a list of ongoing and upcoming eSports tournaments, as well as the corresponding odds for every match.
Placing a bet is as straightforward as betting on regular sports. A player can add as many options as they like, provided it is within the limits of the betting platform. Similar to other wagers, eSports bets are eligible to bonuses and cash back, which can soften the blow in the event of a loss.
The Challenges Facing eSports betting
The most significant challenge to the development of eSports is legislation. Since it is an emerging industry, many jurisdictions lack clear rules to regulate the eSports gambling sector.
Additional factors that can potentially harm the growth of eSports betting are access to player performance data and match integrity. Bookmakers find it challenging to set odds for eSports events because of the lack of a standard data collection mechanism across games. It is also hard to gain access to an accurate and reliable tournament and player data.
Lastly, it is currently tough to ascertain the integrity of eSports games. Vile practices such as cheating, doping, match-fixing, using cheat codes and other underhand methods that slow down or disable competitors are threatening the openness of Esports.
The Impact of eSports Betting on Society
The growing status of eSports as a spectator sport has undoubtedly increased its popularity as a betting category. eSports is now regarded as a competitive sport, and the number of tournaments and dedicated hosting venues has grown significantly in recent times.
Prize pools for eSports have also improved massively. In 2018, The International 2018 tournament had a prize pool worth $25.5 million. Even better, the International Olympics Committee is considering adding eSports to the 2024 Olympics.
Opportunities in the eSports Betting Industry
Venture capital firms are investing in the eSports betting sector because of its enormous potential. Given that eSports bookmakers are very few, this industry has a significant amount of investment opportunities.
eSports require unique environments for both players and fans. The increasing viewership of the sport is an opportunity for investors to create dedicated spaces that provide an exceptional experience to the eSports community.
Similar to other sports, eSports players need coaching to improve their gameplay and performance. The best way is by learning how to analyse opponent data. Bookmakers also need access to such data to set accurate odds and improve the overall betting experience.
Cheating is a significant concern that threatens the development of eSports. The introduction of software that prevents fraud will benefit players, fans and tournament organisers of eSports events.
What Does the Future Hold?
Going by the recent developments, it is highly likely that eSports betting will soon become a global phenomenon. The number of spectators is steadily increasing, and the prize monies are also getting more significant. As the sport gains more popularity, the betting side of eSports is sure to grow substantially.