eSports is expected to grow from what is a $250 million global wagering market in 2015 to one worth $23 billion by 2020, and is being referred to as the "future" of sports betting by Eilers Research.
Wagering on professional video games tournaments is the hot topic at the Excellence in iGaming conference currently being held in Berlin, which has attracted leading online sportsbooks from across the globe.
The figures from research firm Eilers Research were revealed at a panel talk that gathered to discuss key issues affecting the burgeoning sector.
Panel of Betting Industry Executives Discuss eSports
The panel included Marco Blume, head of sportsbook at Pinnacle Sports (SBR rating A+) and a professional eSports player; Rahul Sood, the CEO at eSports wagering business Unikrn and the man that created Microsoft Ventures; and Electronic Sports League chairman Jens Hilger.
Blume said his firm reached one million wagers on eSports in 2014 and he expects the sector to grow exponentially in the coming years. Even though it has only existed for a few years, it is already Pinnacle’s seventh largest market, more lucrative than golf and rugby, and could soon become number one.
Blume said: “We are trying to make the community understand that betting is not evil, and it actually makes watching the games much more fun. We are saying that betting is safe and regulated – we are not running away with your money, just try it out – and it’s working well for us. Word of mouth has been big for us.
“Right now the betting community is waking up to eSports. It’s going in the normal cycle, starting off with before the game betting, then live betting, then prop bets. You can bet on eSports any day of the year, any time of the day. It is 24/7, 365. There are no breaks and there is always something you can bet on. The potential is huge.”
Potential to reach 1.2 billion gamers by 2017?
Hilger said that in 20 years’ time sports like soccer, baseball, basketball and Formula 1 will be minor compared to eSports. Research firm New Zoo estimates that global eSports awareness will reach a total of 1.2 billion gamers by 2017.
It is the sport of choice for a younger, tech-savvy generation and stadiums are regularly packed out around the globe as fans gather to watch their favorite gamers compete at games like Counter Strike and League of Legends. eSports is begging to be exploited by sportsbook operators as there is a huge amount of games to wager on and it attracts passionate fans whose disposable income is growing as they get older.
Top Online Sportsbooks that offer eSports
5Dimes, Pinnacle Sports, William Hill, and Bet365 are among the top sportsbooks offering eSports betting. Players can find a list of online sportsbooks offering eSports using the sportsbook rating guide.
Controversial daily fantasy sports sites have also seized on the burgeoning market. DraftKings has signed partnerships with industry organizations Team SoloMid, SK Gaming, CLOUD9, compLexity Gaming, Mousesports and Counter Logic Gaming and its offering went live this month with the start of the League of Legends World Championships.
After DraftKings’ announcement, FanDuel moved quickly to snap up daily fantasy eSports platform AlphaDraft. FanDuel co-founder and CEO Nigel Eccles said: “With over 200 million people globally watching eSports, AlphaDraft gives those fans a way to engage with this burgeoning entertainment product that creates an enormous opportunity for us.”
Sportsbook Review will continue to cover the growth of eSports and monitor online sportsbooks to offer the market.