We’ve chronicled the many milestones esports has hit on its way to becoming the mainstream cultural occurrence that it is today. From having participants gain notoriety and fame by being featured on mainstream sports publications, to universities handing out esports scholarships, to esports being broadcast on ESPN, to the major IRL sports leagues getting involved. Now, with the world enveloped in the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis that has shut down many if not most of the world’s traditional sporting leagues, esports is having something of a moment, rocketing in popularity as a result.
All of that being said, there has been one lagging indicator in the popularity rise of esports compared with its IRL counterparts: betting. You’re not a big boy event until the gamblers get involved. Well, as we’ve seen with other indicators of esports’ popularity, betting on esports is set to rise significantly as well.
Esports global gambling revenue is set to double to US$ 14 billion in 2020, according to new research from global consumer surveyors 2CV and market analysts ProdegeMR. The survey took responses from 1,028 gamblers aged 18 to 64 and looked at how the current climate is affecting gambling in the UK, as well as the potential role that esports could play in becoming a new revenue driver for the industry.
The research also reveals a shifting interest towards other betting properties such as esports, with 36 per cent of gamblers having made a bet on competitive gaming in the last three months. It also found that 30 per cent of consumers betting on esports have only started to do so within the last month. Moreover, 22 per cent of gamblers who have not tried betting on esports before revealed that they will consider doing so within the next three months.
Now, it is certainly true that this level of growth has been spurred on by the COVID-19 shutdown of IRL sports. Still, the trends were already in place for a rise in esports betting. And for those who regularly bet on sports, or esports, there is a certain degree of this bell not being able to be un-rung. Once gamblers fold esports into the portfolio of betting opportunities they have, it’s not clear if or why they would fall back to IRL sports only once this pandemic is all over. On that note, it’s the new adoption rate of betting on esports that is most illuminating in the numbers above.
And just in case you thought this was fringe operations getting into this stuff, it sure as hell isn’t.
The forecast comes as the Nevada Gaming Control Board issued a notice of approval permitting sportsbooks to offer wagers on the Call of Duty League through 2020. Licensed bookmakers may offer the following wager types: head to head, match winner, and overall winner.
With the Call of Duty League moving its operations online amid the Covid-19 outbreak, the Nevada Gaming Board has deemed that the esports competition can join Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, Dota 2, iRacing and Overwatch League (OWL) as available markets. All of those competitions were approved by Nevada regulators during the last few weeks.
Whatever you think of esports, whatever you think of betting on sports, this is indeed a milestone of sorts. I, for one, look forward to reading the story of whatever the esports version of the Chicago Black Sox is going to be.