There are all kinds of reasons for gamers to take an interest in eSports, not least of which is that it’s still growing quite a bit. What now seems like an almost surprisingly big sports-adjacent enterprise, has the potential to become even bigger in the next few years, such that it touches all corners of gaming and envelopes millions upon millions of game enthusiasts. Between the word continuing to get out, a more diverse range of games coming into play, and competitions becoming more varied and accessible, there really doesn’t seem to be a cap – at least in the short-term – on eSports.
What doesn’t come up quite as frequently as it probably ought to in discussions about how eSports can grow and expand is the potential it has in betting. To be clear, eSports has already led to some betting activity, so this isn’t meant to suggest there’s something completely new or untested on the horizon. However the scope of eSports betting, and betting-adjacent activity, has not been fully realized yet.
- Esports betting could be huge…
For starters, the possibilities in the United States, betting market are largely unexplored at this point. While illegal betting activity has long been attached to American sports, the country only reversed a ban on legal betting last year. This will naturally rope in millions of hitherto reluctant bettors into the industry, and recent analysis indicates that growth has only just begun in U.S. betting. This doesn’t apply solely or even primarily to eSports, but as the U.S. betting market expands, it’s virtually certain to spawn a great deal of eSports-related wagering, which will only contribute to the rise of the gaming “sport.”
Even for those who are looking ahead to potential eSports betting activity though, it’s easy to overlook a betting-related activity that’s already legal in certain ways, and which can, and likely will be broadly applied to eSports: fantasy. Fantasy sports are enjoyed by tens of millions in the United States, and through real-money daily fantasy sites in particular – which were widely legalized before betting legislation even came into play – they involve significant financial investment. People everywhere are spending anywhere from $1 to several thousand on contests on a regular basis, choosing lineups full of professional or collegiate athletes to create teams and competing based on how those teams perform statistically over a short period.
Now, daily fantasy (or DFS) for eSports does already exist. In fact, at times it’s even offered at DraftKings, which is one of the leading platforms in the industry. However at this time it’s also fair to say that this isn’t particularly widely known, at least beyond the most enthusiastic and aware of eSports fans and participants. But the thinking here is simple, in that two certain eventualities are likely to lead to a sharp rise in activity in this area. First, as more games and competitions are added to eSports and more people become interested as a result, that many more people will find their way naturally to eSports DFS. Second, as betting is more widely legalized and more Americans become intrigued by the idea of eSports betting, they’ll also start to turn up DFS options in search results, and because platforms like DraftKings are likely to host real betting odds.
Given all of this, it seems that we’re likely to see a much busier market for fantasy eSports in the coming years – possibly even as a sort of first stage of broader betting businesses’ growth. And particularly as more games and genres become popular in eSports, it’s going to be both a very lucrative and very entertaining side business.
Would you get in on sports betting? Is it good for the industry? How could it change esports as we know it?