You’ve probably heard the expression: “The bookies always win.” It’s not that they cheat or
somehow manipulate results. It’s because they conduct incredibly detailed research and have the
best possible predictions about results, meaning they can offer odds that, while still giving some
value to customers, will give them the best chance of making a profit.
Sports betting is a huge business, and the operators will not do anything unless it is worth their
while. So, when the big gambling companies began paying close attention to the eSports explosion,
you know they were doing so for a good reason.
As you are undoubtedly aware, so long as you are old enough to legally place a wager, you can now
bet on hundreds of eSports matches and tournaments every day. You will find markets on Dota 2,
League of Legends, Halo, CO: GO, and more. Some bookie sites, like STS Bet, now give eSports
coverage as much prominence as other sports.
But what is it that makes the eSports category so important to bookies? While we know the sector
has a huge following, it’s nowhere near as large as mainstream sports like the NFL or NBA.
Although bookies will have all sorts of complicated algorithms designed to crunch the numbers, the
true benefits of eSports to their business can be split into three sections.
The number of people viewing eSports events, which are streamed worldwide, continues to grow,
with the latest estimates put at 270 million. And although bookies now offer markets as a matter of
course, the revenue from eSports betting was only around $1 billion in 2019, according to analysts.
Yet according to research by analysts ProdegeMR, that figure would hit $14 billion in 2020.
Their research was based only on a small sample of sports bettors, but the figures are significant and
confirm the belief that eSports betting is growing – and that the bookies will be going all-in to grab a
slice of the action.
Age of eSports customers
As you might expect, the average age of sports bettors on mainstream sports is the middle aged. For
baseball, it’s 57, 50 for NFL, 49 for NHL, and 42 for NBA fans. While that is reasonably good news for
the bookies because these age groups tend to have more disposable income with which to gamble,
there are two key drawbacks:
1. To put it bluntly, they may not be around to keep betting for many years
2. They are less likely to accept cross-sell offers into lucrative verticals like online casino games
Compare this established group to your average Halo player, who is a target for placing their first
bet. With the legal age for betting set at 21, you can guarantee many are at that very age or slightly
above. While they may not have the same spending power as the old bettors, they have the three
big advantages for bookies:
1. They have the potential to be betting customers for decades, building considerable revenues
over that time
2. Younger people are more likely to be cross-sold into online casino gaming. Where this is
legalized in the US, online gambling sites can make significant revenues. Consider this: a
bettor might lose ten bets in a month of $5 each, so $50. That same customer could easily
lose that same amount on the slots in 30 minutes!
3. Young people are more likely to spread the news of their successful eSports bets on social
media, which is free viral marketing for the bookies
Expect More Commercial Activity
The growth of eSports will continue thanks to increased sponsorship and money from all sorts of
commercial sponsors, plus the bookies. For example, Betway, a leading online bookmaker, has
appointed a director of eSports, and the company sponsors a Brazilian eSports team.
This additional funding means events can afford to be bigger and better, and with that, they attract
more new fans to the sport. It becomes a snowball effect – more fans means more sponsorship cash,
means more marketing, means more fans. And so it goes on.
Mainstream sports like football and baseball have reached a natural limit for the bookies. They are
now all fighting to win a bigger share of the established bettor pool. But the pool of eSports bettors
is swimming with new customers.
As a result, as more legalized casino and online sports betting sites are approved in the US, you can
expect them to increase their investment in eSports markets even further.