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DRX players and staff with the Summoner's Cup Worlds trophy as we look at a recent study surrounding the growth of Esports over the next half decade.
DRX players and staff with the Summoner's Cup Worlds trophy after winning the League of Legends World Championships against T1 at Chase Center. Photo by: Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports.

It's a niche market, but it's growing every year and analysts are expecting that surge to continue over the next half decade or so. The esports market has been growing in popularity with every passing year, as games like Counter-Strike and League of Legends have leagues and tournaments worldwide. Many of our best sports betting sites offer odds on dozens of esports, games, and leagues. 

A recently released study from Verified Market Research shows that the market is expected to grow from $2.1 billion in 2023 to $7.5 billion in 2030. That forecast is due to several factors, including digitization, increasing viewership, and growth from sponsorship and advertising. 

The study

The study examined historical statistics from 2020-2022 and forecasted the years 2024-2030. The result was an expected 21.5% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR), even if it does come with potential barriers.  

Unlike some niche sports that require specific weather or conditions, esports are largely globally available. The market has seen expansion in part due to the rising number of individuals who have access to high-speed internet and digital devices; in turn, the audience and viewership numbers are skyrocketing.

Those soaring audience numbers mean extra eyes for many of the key players in the industry, including Valve Corporation (Counter Strike), Tencent Holdings (League of Legends), and Electronic Arts/EA Sports (Madden). It's also resulted in a boost of the eyes watching gamers and events on platforms such as Twitch and YouTube gaming. 

Our best sports betting apps have noticed. Many now offer wagering on individual outcomes of events, futures on leagues, and player props related to specific events within an individual game. Wagering on esports more or less mimics traditional sports wagering; some major players like DraftKings and FanDuel have expanded their daily fantasy sports (DFS) offerings to include esports. 

Barriers to growth

As the esports market grows, we learn more about the barriers that many leagues are facing worldwide.

While growing eyes on esports is a positive development, if they don't result in increased advertising and sponsorship on a consistent basis, it can be hard for leagues to thrive. Naturally, when playing at a professional level, considering the dedication and hard work it takes, players want to be paid a living wage. If a particular league is struggling to turn a profit, that's hard to do. 

There are notable upfront costs associated with creating a competitive market and organizing large-scale events. All of the associated costs with creating and maintaining a league can deter growth. 

There are also concerns with legislation. With esports operating globally, including huge markets in Asia and Europe, it's hardly a one-size-fits-all solution. Abiding by different laws in different countries surrounding gambling and online gaming is just another hurdle faced by operators. 

Gambling addition is something that our best sportsbooks are highly concerned with, with many operators and states setting aside money to address the issue. Gaming addiction, and its effect on mental health, is also something that concerns many regional governments and comes with negative connotations. It is, after all, a relatively new phenomenon in the large scale.