Esports Betting Has Boomed in 2020 – Here’s Why

Esport 2020 Text With a Money and Gamer Background

Esports betting has experienced rapid growth over the past decade. However, it has especially seen an uptick in 2020.

Many people are experiencing esports gambling for the first time this year. In turn, bookmakers are taking advantage of this situation to boost their bottom line.

What’s up with the extra crazy growth in 2020? Below, I’ll explain why this year has been so good to esports betting sites.

Coronavirus’ Impact on Traditional Sports Betting

Traditional sports run year-round. You can look forward to NFL football and soccer in the fall, basketball and hockey in the winter and baseball in the summer.

Therefore, you always have something to bet on with regard to sports. But the coronavirus has taken it’s toll on sports by reducing the amount of games available to bet on in 2020.

As you probably already know, COVID-19 currently makes it unsafe to pack stadiums full of fans. Bookmakers, who fully rely on sports to make revenue, are also struggling during this period.

Sportsbooks have turned to esports in an effort to continue generating revenue. They’ve had quite a bit of success with this type of gambling, considering that esports were already becoming more popular before COVID-19.

Empty Sports Betting Lounge

Despite their rising popularity, esports have still taken a backseat to the most-popular sports. Now, though, they’re enjoying the centerstage all to themselves.

Bookmakers are offering more esports markets than ever before. They’re also featuring plenty of live wagering opportunities—something that hasn’t always been the case in the past.

Those who love sports betting are desperate for as many things as possible to gamble on. They don’t care whether they’re risking money on video games or ping-pong.

Therefore, esports have managed to draw more fans during the coronavirus pandemic. Going further, their popularity is accelerating even faster than before.

Gambling Esports Nearly the Same as Betting on Sports

Before COVID-19 hit, many gamblers had yet to wager on video game competitions. Again, the average bettor sticks to standard sports.

But when sports leagues became sidelined, many people have taken the time to learn about esports betting. They’ve discovered that wagering on video game events isn’t much different than regular sports.

After all, esports gambling uses the same odds and wager types as betting on the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL. Anybody who was already well-versed with betting on these leagues has experienced little trouble adjusting to esports wagering.

Regarding the odds, esports betting sites use American, decimal, and fractional odds. These are the same types of odds that are used for regular sports.

Esports bet types include moneylines, totals, outrights, prop bets, live wagers, and futures. Almost every one of these bets is also available for sports too.

An outright are the only exception to this rule. It sees you wager on which team will win a particular video game tournament.

Aside from maybe outrights, sports bettors have felt completely comfortable crossing over into the gaming world. The only differences involve the players and teams that they need to handicap to be successful.

Esports Betting Has Already Been Rising Anyways

As mentioned before, esports gambling has been a growth industry for a while. It has experienced a boom right along with esports competitions in general.

The latter has seen its fanbase increase exponentially over the last several years. Thanks to celebrity investors and more interest than ever before, esports events now compete with traditional sports in terms of viewership.

For reference, over 100 million people watch the League of Legends (LoL) World Championship. This viewership even beat the Super Bowl audience!

League of Legends Screenshot

The growth for esports shows no signs of slowing down. In turn, esports gambling also figures to have a bright future.

Experts forecast this industry will be worth $1.8 billion by the end of 2020. This forecast is quite impressive when considering that the industry was only worth $24 million in 2015.

COVID-19 has provided a jolt to an industry that is already drawing countless new fans every day. It has forced traditional sports leagues to shut down and allowed esports to shine.

Esportsbooks Are Luring Gamblers With Bigger Bonuses

Esports betting isn’t the only type of online gambling that has benefited from the pandemic. Online bingo, casinos, and poker sites have all seen an uptick in customers as well.

Everybody is looking for things to do while many industries either feature limited hours or are shut down completely. The internet gambling industry has taken advantage of the situation to the fullest.

Casinos, poker rooms, and esports betting sites are offering even larger online bonuses than ever before. They want to capitalize on all of the new potential gamblers.

As for esportsbooks, they’re featuring large free bets and deposit bonuses. Typically, these sites only offer one or the other.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of these opportunities while they’re hot, here’s more on what to expect with free wagers and deposit bonuses:

Free Bet

You receive a free wager worth up to a certain size (e.g. $25). Assuming you lose your first bet, you can recover the losses by meeting playthrough.

Here’s an example:

  • An esports betting site offers a $25 free wager.
  • You bet $25 and lose.
  • Playthrough is 6x.
  • 25 x 6 = $150
  • You must wager $150 to get the $25 loss back.

This offer only kicks in if you actually lose the bet. Assuming you win the first wager, then you just collect your profit.

Deposit Bonus

This deal matches a percentage of your first deposit. You need to satisfy playthrough before withdrawing the bonus funds.

Here’s an example:

  • A bookmaker offers a 100% match deposit bonus worth up to $200.
  • You deposit $100, thus qualifying for a $100 bonus.
  • Playthrough is 20x.
  • 100 x 20 = $2,000
  • You must wager $2,000 before cashing out the $100 bonus.

These offers typically force you to bet above certain odds (e.g. only bets at -150 or better count). Otherwise, you could just back heavy favorites and have an easier time meeting playthrough.

Will Esports Gambling Retain Its New Fans?

Esports betting sites won’t continue drawing new customers at the same rapid rate when the coronavirus slows down. They’ll face more competition from traditional sports once again at this point.

However, they’ve undoubtedly taken advantage of the pandemic. Sportsbooks have introduced new people to a form of wagering that they might’ve not tried otherwise.

NBA 2K21 Screenshot

Some of these new fans will divide their bankroll between other sports when the opportunity arises again. Others will leave esports betting behind and never look back.

The end result, though, is that more people are aware of this type of gambling than ever before. The same bettors who only found esports due to COVID-19 will consider wagering on video game competitions in the future.

If esports as an entire industry is to grow and compete with regular sports, then two things need to happen:

  1. Continued investments from outside sources
  2. Big TV deals

The investments have been rolling in from celebrities and wealthy businesspeople. Savvy investors see both competitive gaming and esports betting as growth industries that’ll offer a nice return. Therefore, esports probably won’t need to worry about outside money coming in for a while.

Regarding TV deals, gaming has already benefited from a relationship with ESPN. The world’s largest sports network covers various games, including Dota 2, Hearthstone, LoL, and NBA 2K.

But the industry could always use another major television deal or two. After all, TV currently brings in more advertising revenue than live streaming.

Of course, gambling figures to be a key cog in making both the advertising and investments happen. Betting has driven the popularity of sports for decades and figures to do the same for video gaming.

So far, everything seems to be falling into place in this regard. Bookmakers are drawing more action from esports gambling than ever.


Esports betting saw tremendous growth last decade and bookmakers are still working to make it more widely available for sports bettors. They went from obscure competitions to becoming a global phenomenon.

Competitive gaming has kicked off 2020 in the right way. Fueled by traditional sports shutting down during COVID-19, both esports competitions and betting sites have experienced major success.

Video game leagues and tournaments remain one of the few things to bet on while sports are sidelined. Therefore, many new fans/bettors have rushed to the industry.

The growth will no doubt slow down once the pandemic does. Even then, though, some gamblers who’ve recently found esports will continue wagering on them.