eSports betting is a unique genre of gambling that is rapidly on the rise. Its burgeoning popularity is in tandem with eSports itself, an entertainment industry experiencing incredible growth in modern times. Like commerce gave birth to eCommerce, there were sports first and then eSports. “eSports” is a shortened form of electronic sports, and simply put, eSports is the competitive playing of video games. eSports is probably just as old as the video game industry itself, and this is because video games have always included an element of competition. If a player is not playing against a fellow human player, they’re squaring off against the AI.
eSports players may or may not be professionals. And when they compete, they may do so individually or as teams of players. This can depend on the structure/gameplay of the video game in question or on specific tournament rules. As technology continues to develop and roll out worldwide, so too has eSports. As of 2020, there are an estimated 2 billion people playing video games in one form or another around the globe. Modes include PC, console, and mobile devices. It is fair to say that from the time William Higinbotham created the world’s first video game in 1958, eSports has grown in leaps and bounds. Viewership is rising year on year, with an annual increase of at least 10% since 2016. In 2019 alone, factoring in both enthusiasts and casual viewers, eSports had an estimated total audience of 443 million. eSports growth was always going to have a corresponding effect on eSports betting, and it’s only logical! Let’s now have a look at eSports betting itself.
How Does eSports Betting Work?
eSports betting is not too different from traditional sports betting, and some of the betting strategies for sports can also be used for it. However, there are different modes of eSports betting that work depending on individual situations. The main ones are as follows:
Real Money Betting
As the title suggests, real money is the currency for this form of eSports betting. Bookmakers offer odds for various outcomes from eSports competitions and Punters that correctly predict the outcomes are paid according to the odds. As of 2021, bookmakers like Luckbox and Unikrn exclusively focus on eSports. In other cases, bookies already big on traditional sports, such as Pinnacle, have shown a real interest in capitalizing on current and potential eSports growth, adding proper eSports betting sections to their platforms.
This type is popular among real aficionados of eSports, usually players themselves. There are various virtual items in modern multiplayer games, known as skins. Skins are rare things and, therefore, precious. They include such “items” as special costumes for in-game characters, game mods, or weapons. Rather than bet money, players can play each other for these skins. It’s a common thing on the Internet nowadays to see these skins auctioned for real money.
Social eSports betting is informal betting between friends or family. Parties agree with terms and wagers on the outcomes of eSports and settle the wagers accordingly after the games/matches. Sometimes social betting can also be among online acquaintances who have enough trust from having known each other for a long time.
Challenge betting is also called head-to-head betting. Here, gamers compete directly against each other. Most of the time, this happens in an informal setting. Players decide upon the prize, then battle it out and duly settle up the bet. Other times, some organizers set up an online eSports challenge. Players usually pay entry fees to participate, with the winner clinching an agreed-upon prize at the end. The prize may or may not come from the entry fee proceeds.
eSports Betting – The Market Picture
eSports can no longer be brushed aside as a little-known hobby for a few enthusiasts. Sure, the fan base is nowhere in mainstream or “real” sports such as soccer, tennis, or basketball. But the fact that global eSports betting hit nearly $2 billion in revenue in 2020 tells it all. The COVID-19 pandemic had a tangible say in that, of course. While the stay-at-home decree had other businesses reeling from financial loss, eSports was a noteworthy exception. The cancellation of many traditional sports schedules left gambling-hungry fans with no other option than to turn to eSports gambling. According to MarketWatch, from $7.9 billion in 2019, the global market will reach $13 billion in 2025, based on a CAGR of 13.1%.