The Esports industry has grown massively in recent years and is showing no signs of slowing down. And now, not only is Esports itself being pushed into the mainstream, but betting companies are also making it a key focus in 2020.
In March, the state of Nevada allowed sportsbooks to take bets on the ESL Pro League CS:GO for the first time, and Swedish iGaming lead generation company Leadstar Media believes there is so much more to come.
Esports betting has been huge in Europe for a while, but now that Nevada has entered the fray, this could spark major changes worldwide. Initially, it is just a case of educating people within the industry, plus sports bettors and fans, that ultimately Esports leagues feature elite-level contests between talented individuals and there are various betting markets within each title.
– said Leadstar CEO Eskil Kvarnström.
Some sportsbooks were quick to jump on the Esports train, while many others are now catching up. Leadstar’s latest project, MyBettingsites.com, compares bookmakers and analyses the best betting sites for each category, including Esports.
Kvarnström highlighted how the recent crossover between Esports and other top sporting organisations has further expanded the already huge potential audience: “We have already seen some top football clubs embrace Esports, but the last few weeks have been incredible in terms of other sports getting involved.”
“The likes of Formula 1 and the NBA have been putting on gaming events and they aren’t just for Esports enthusiasts – they are generating interest from mainstream sports broadcasters and fans, which a few years ago might have been a crazy thought.”
While titles such as CS:GO and League of Legends may not be of interest to some general sports fans, games such as FIFA 20, F1 2019 and NBA 2K20 offer a more familiar viewing and betting experience, and with real drivers and players taking part in events, people are at least willing to give it a try.
Over 300,000 viewers watched live as the inaugural Formula 1 Virtual Grand Prix took place on Sunday March 22nd, and Kvarnström thinks there is a future for this kind of event, even when the sporting calendar reverts back to normal.
“If these events are successful, I think there will be a demand for them to continue and for brands and sportsbooks to come up with creative formats. There is no reason for bettors to overlook Esports, especially with events like these virtual Formula 1 races where the similarities between real-life racing and sim racing are there for all to see.” – hi said
“Us as affiliates also have to be reactive and make sure we can provide useful information for those who want to become knowledgeable about Esports betting. This is now one of the main focuses for us in all territories.”
As Nevada leads the way in getting America involved in betting on Esports leagues, it remains to be seen whether the rest of the country will follow suit. With the Europe case study providing the blueprint, sportsbooks all over the world could soon have a new major category.