Esports betting and sports gambling have blended together in recent years. Traditional sports and esports lines are now featured at many of the same sites.
Esports viewership has also shot up tremendously within the past few years. Now, hundreds of millions of people worldwide watch competitive gaming.
Taking everything into account, esports gambling seems like it may catch up to sports betting someday. However, it may never truly catch up in terms of betting volume or popularity for the following reasons.
1 – Esports Betting Isn’t Popular Everywhere
The competitive gaming industry has seen accelerated growth within the last several years. This esports boom doesn’t show any signs of slowing down anytime soon either.
However, most of this viewership is based in Asia, most notably China. The majority of the world doesn’t watch competitive gaming on a regular or casual basis.
Esportsbooks will continue gaining popularity in Asia over the next few years. But the industry won’t ever reach the heights of traditional sports betting until the world embraces gaming.
2 – Some Bookmakers Only Offer Lines on Major Events
Betting sites routinely feature lines on the most popular sports to their primary customer base. North American-facing sportsbooks, for example, offer lots of NHL, MLB, NBA, and NFL betting on a daily basis (depending upon the season).
The average bookmaker doesn’t, however, run esports lines every day. Many sports gambling sites still only cover major events in competitive gaming.
The Fortnite Cup, The International (Dota 2), and the World Championship (League of Legends) are the biggest esports events. You can expect these tournaments to be covered at every major bookmaker.
But beyond the times when these events take place, esports gambling doesn’t get much attention. Sure, dedicated esportsbooks consistently feature odds on different leagues and tournaments.
However, standard online sportsbooks don’t offer enough odds on competitive gaming outside of the largest events.
3 – Younger Audience Without Much Disposable Income
Sports draw a wide range of gamblers who are both young and old. Esports, meanwhile, have a relatively young fanbase.
The average gaming fan’s age is 31, which might be older than you think. But it’s still not close to the average age of sports enthusiasts.
Here are the average ages for different types of sports fans according to 2016 data from the Sports Business Journal:
- NBA = 42 years old
- NHL = 49
- NFL = 50
- MLB = 57
- Overall average = 53
Again, 31 may be older than you’d think for an esports fan. But it’s still over two decades younger than the typical sports enthusiast.
According to 2017 statistics, disposable household income by age group breaks down as follows:
- Under 25 years old = $29,960
- 25 to 34 years = $61,145
- 35 to 44 years = $75,609
- 45 to 54 years = $83,939
- 55 to 64 years = $71,520
- 65 to 74 years = $50,721
- Older than 75 years = $34,684
The typical esports enthusiast is sitting on $61,145 in disposable income, while the average sports fan has $83,939. The latter has more money to wager on sports on average.
4 – Sizable Number of Fans Under the Legal Gambling Age
As covered above, the typical esports fan is 31 years or older. They have no problem legally gambling on esports as a result.
Another 26% lie in the range of 18 to 24 years old. Those living in certain countries can’t bet under the age of 21. So, this age range prevents another portion of fans from wagering legally.
Of course, some fans of regular sports are also under 18 and 21. But referring to the average age statistics again, it’s very likely that a smaller percentage of sports fans fall under the legal gambling ages.
5 – Viewers Like PvP Betting
The term esports betting typically describes wagering at standard sportsbooks. At traditional betting sites, you gamble on odds regarding professional esports players.
However, competitive gaming differs from regular sports by offering player-vs-player (PvP) gambling. Certain platforms let anybody bet on their own performance in a video game.
Here’s an example:
- You’re playing Dota 2.
- You feel confident in your team’s chances of winning.
- You wager on your team winning the match.
PvP betting lets you be the pro and wager on your own skills. It’s much different than anything offered through sports betting.
The latter can’t allow athletes to wager on themselves under normal circumstances. Many professional leagues, such as the NBA, NLF, and MLB, forbid athletes from betting on their respective sports.
Meanwhile, bookmakers can’t feasibly allow recreational basketball players to wager on themselves winning. This model wouldn’t be worthwhile or profitable for the sportsbook. Esportsbooks have a rare opportunity in the PvP area.
However, this type of gambling always takes away from regular esports betting. Fewer people will bet on the pros when their money is wrapped up on themselves winning matches.
6 – Still a Huge Revenue Gap
The competitive gaming market and betting side have grown hand in hand. In 2020, esports betting sites worldwide are expected to earn $1.81 billion in total vig, a massive increase from the $24 million in juice that bookmakers earned in 2015.
I suspect that this massive gap will close in the coming years. But esports betting will probably never come close to eclipsing wagering on traditional sports.
7 – Fewer Esports Betting Promotions and VIP Rewards
Sports betting has never offered a wealth of promotions in comparison to, say, online casinos and poker sites. But certain online sportsbooks do feature quality promos and VIP programs for sports bettors.
Esports betting, on the other hand, hasn’t quite caught up in this regard. The majority of esportsbooks do offer welcome bonuses, including free bets and/or deposit bonuses.
These deals give you a chance to earn free money right away (deposit bonus) or win back losses from your first wager (free bet). However, you’re not going to find many promotions at esports betting sites. You’re even less likely to pick up loyalty or VIP rewards.
This aspect doesn’t necessarily have to be a dealbreaker. However, it’s disheartening when you can’t look forward to rewards beyond the welcome bonuses.
The esports gambling industry definitely has plenty to look forward to. The leagues, tournaments, and betting aspect are all growing rapidly.
Their quick growth is causing some people to make ridiculous predictions about where the market is going. Certain people believe that esports betting can even surpass traditional sports gambling in revenue.
Many signs point to this not being the case. First off, the global revenue gap between the two types of gambling is $248 billion. Put another way, esports gambling ($1.81b) isn’t even expected to earn a one-hundredth of what sportsbooks ($250b) will collect in 2020.
The average age of esports fans presents more problems. A good portion of gaming enthusiasts are too young to bet. Others are in the younger age brackets that don’t have as much disposable income.
The popularity of esports could also stand to be more global. Right now, most fans are concentrated in China and a few other Asian countries.
Bookmakers themselves aren’t helping the matter by offering a lower selection of esports lines. Most betting sites only ramp up their gaming offerings when major events happen.
Player-vs-player betting brings forth yet another challenge. While amateurs betting on themselves helps specific platforms, it doesn’t necessarily deliver revenue to standard esports bookmakers.
One more dilemma is the lack of promotions and VIP rewards. Most esports betting sites only offer welcome bonuses and nothing else.
I firmly believe that esports gambling will overcome some of these problems and grow much larger. But this industry is very unlikely to ever rival sports betting.