COVID-19 has changed just about every aspect of our daily lives. Even grabbing a bite to eat has become a challenge.
Since early in 2020 when major shutdowns began taking place, the sports climate in the United States has completely changed.
This has opened the door for betting on Esports to rise in popularity. Sports are scheduled to return in the coming weeks after exhaustive measures to protect the players and the public.
Today, I’ll look at how betting on Esports has changed during COVID-19.
A New Game in Town
Not long ago, the prospect of gambling on Esports was totally taboo.
However, the rapid growth of the industry, coupled with the shutdown of our traditional sports leagues, has swung the door wide open to gambling on Esports.
The last three years have seen tremendous growth in Esports viewership, which has seen double-digit growth and a loyal fan base of over 450 million. The industry seems poised to take its opportunity to step out of the shadows and into the limelight.
Real money online gambling has suffered a downturn in profits over the last couple of years. Esports may be just the shot in the arm that the industry needs. The niche’s fanbase and the number of those participating are growing exponentially.
The year to year growth of Esports has had some variance over the past 5 years. Yet, the growth rate has remained at or above 14% the entire time.
By the start of this year, total viewership has soared from 380 million to 455 million. That’s an average growth of about 15% for that timeframe.
You can rest assured that this trend of growth will hold for the next several years. As we continue to watch this meteoric rise, we can expect a substantial increase in the number of casual viewers.
Experts are predicting that by 2024 the worldwide Esports audience will be almost 650 million people. That’s nearly doubling its size in only six years.
COVID-19 Pushes the Gambling World to Esports
From simulated games of FIFA being streamed to deprived gamblers via the web to fantasy contests on professional Esports, Esports have become a favorite new toy for casinos in the age of COVID-19.
Gone are the days of Esports being kicked aside. The coronavirus pandemic has sent casinos on a frantic search for ways to recoup lost revenues. Esports have stepped in nicely, and the casinos are in a race to provide even more betting on Esports.
Overall, betting has dramatically decreased over the past four months, but sportsbooks have remained afloat by the old and undeniable truth that gamblers always find something to gamble on. In some cases, people were even betting on the weather of all things.
I don’t know about you but, I think Esports offer a much more exciting and intriguing wagering avenue than the high temp for Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Age of Esports Has Arrived
The Esports industry has seen an insane market share in Europe. Since the beginning of March, Esports are responsible for roughly 50% of all betting. The result is that sportsbooks have seen a jump of 40x over that period.
Esports has become the number one revenue source for many of the top sportsbooks during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, every bookmaker worth their salt now offers Esports — especially those that did not before the pandemic wreaked its havoc on the global gambling industry.
Generally, Esports gambling revenues are expected to more than double in 2020. Sports gambling is beginning to grow in the United States, and states like Nevada, Colorado, and New Jersey are working diligently to be the leaders in the Esports market.
Nevada casinos have always set the bar for all things related to gambling. Nevada approved its first Esports bet back in 2016. The state followed up with two more tournaments in 2017. That was it. There was a three-year gap between those bets and March of this year.
Nevada has given the green light to more than 13 individual Esports events since March. When most professional sports leagues shut down, it left a huge hole that gamblers were hoping to fill.
And the sportsbooks want to fill that hole, too.
The tremendous growth of Esports has had a historical impact on the gambling industry — an effect that could not be ignored. This has led to soaring interest and investment money.
With potential sponsors lining up by the dozens with buckets of cash to get into the action, it’s easy to see that the Age of Esports is upon us.
Life After COVID-19
The market seems to be yearning for an infusion of fresh gambling blood, and the potential appears to be monumental.
But the ability of Esports to retain such a large market share remains uncertain.
For example, it seems that all the online sportsbooks consider Esports just another rising star in a continually changing landscape. They’re apparently overlooking the well-defined niche and its incredible fanbase — a fanbase full of potential new customers.
This effort piggybacks off one of sports bettings’ fastest-growing trends, the in-play wagering. These in-play bets can add a tremendous amount of excitement to the contest and keep players engaged and betting throughout the event.
The casino industry understands that though the market share varies, there is a large opening to shape the future by simply adding in-game wagers to live viewing in one convenient location.
Start-Ups Leading the Way
The new kids on the block in the sports betting industry are embracing Esports on an impressive scale. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, these start-ups played a tremendous role in bringing Esports betting to the masses.
Combine the leading sportsbooks with the intricate range of gambling markets available for Esports betting and you get a recipe for massive success. This is achieved by allowing platforms to acquire a new audience affordably and effectively while providing Esports the place in the spotlight it has earned.
Some sportsbooks were left reeling as all college and professional sports leagues began to close 1 by 1. But the newbies and their already loyal fanbase were sitting comfortably in the assurance that they could weather the storm.
Bumps in the Road
That’s the bright side of Esports. You may have read to this point and thought all is sunshine and daisies in the Esports world.
But this isn’t necessarily the case.
Actually, Esports face some significant obstacles.
The potential for cheating has come up as a significant concern in the past. However, these fears seem to be completely baseless. The money involved with Esports has increased exponentially, and tsome people always want to have an inside edge.
This concern is outweighed by the prize amounts and endorsement earnings for the top players. A ruined reputation would be far more financially devastating than throwing a match or working an edge of any sort.
Another — and probably the biggest — challenge facing Esports gambling in the US is the legal issue. In the United States, only five states have passed legislation to specifically allow betting on Esports. An additional 11 states have passed laws allowing sports betting, but do not specifically identify Esports.
So, you can place bets legally in almost 1/3 of the United States. If you live in Europe, or more specifically the United Kingdom, betting on Esports is far more commonplace.
Moving Past Major Events
One colossal change you can expect to see in Esports betting after the pandemic is broader coverage. Before COVID-19 wreaked its havoc, only the top tier events garnered much attention from the bettors or the sportsbooks.
Esportsbooks are operations that dedicate 100% of their action to the Esports bettors. Many of these operations can be found in over 15 different markets.
However, most gamblers continue to use traditional sportsbooks.
Why does this matter?
Esports will not only now be offered in all the major sportsbooks, but more events than ever will be available for the betting public.
COVID-19 has changed our daily lives in countless ways. From how we buy groceries to what our workday looks like, everything has changed.
Mostly, it’s awful. I miss my friends and family. I miss going out to watch a game and have some wings.
Fortunately, this isn’t the new normal. We’ll return to life as it was before the pandemic. And we’ll be filling stadiums on Sundays again.
But one thing will be different in the gambling world, and that’s the impact and popularity of Esports. Betting on Esports probably isn’t replacing the NFL for sports bettors, but it will definitely be a much bigger force than it has ever been.