Now that esports betting is becoming well established things are about to come full circle. The next game genre to enjoy wide adoption as a betting sport are sports games like NBA2K and FIFA2. The two aforementioned titles have already been seen on a number of esports betting boards but they’re about to get some company. Actually, they’re about to get a lot of company over the next few years.
It’s no secret that video games in general and esports in particular are a huge business. In many countries it’s among the top revenue generating forms of entertainment. In the US at least there’s one entertainment option that is even more popular—gambling. In 2017, the US video game industry generated a record $36 billion in revenue–more than the film and music industries combined. Internationally, the video game industry generated $108.4 billion is more than the global film and music industries. With the US video game industry growing by 18% from 2016 to 2017 its very likely that they’ll continue to increase in popularity for the foreseeable future.
ESPORTS ARE A HUGE GROWTH INDUSTRY
Esports aren’t generating numbers anywhere near what the overall video game industry brings in but for a market segment that didn’t exist a few years back their success has been mind boggling. The first step in esports betting is having at least a basic understanding of what it is. Estimates suggest that the esports industry could be worth $1.65 billion by 2020 and most analysts expect exponential growth to continue for at least a decade past that point. It’s inevitable that the esports industry will find new ways to monetize their massive spectator base both at live events and watching online. Unless you follow esports, some of the numbers are hard to believe. The 2017 Intel Extreme Masters World Championship attracted a live audience of 173,000 with 46 million unique viewers watching the online live stream. 74 million viewers watched the 2017 League of Legends World Championships online.
This hasn’t been lost on professional sports leagues, particularly in the United States. Esports is on the radar of every major and minor sports organization with many already launching some sort of initiative so they can get a piece of the ever growing pie. The National Basketball Association (NBA) has started professional league for NBA2K with 17 teams. The first season is already underway and you’ll find their games available for betting at many sportsbooks that offer esports. Earlier this season, the National Hockey League (NHL) announced the 2018 NHL Gaming World Championship featuring the EA SPORTS NHL 18 video game. They’re likely to follow the NBA and create an ongoing professional league.
EVERY SPORT WANTS A PIECE OF THE PIE
Earlier in the development cycle is NASCAR, who just announced their own esports series contested on the iRacing platform. They’re being a bit tone deaf to the demographics by limiting participation to teenagers given that both video game and esports have strong fanbases ranging all the way up to the early 40s. The US Major League Soccer circuit (MLS) has announced their own league modeled after the NBA2K effort to begin play using FIFA18 in conjunction with the World Cup. Even leagues like Major League Lacrosse (MLL) aren’t far behind. The US league has yet to announce its own esports scheme but the game is popular enough that competition in their branded video game has already shown up on European betting boards.
Once these games become popular as an competitive esports platform they’ll quickly show up on betting boards worldwide. Partnerships with sports leagues will obviously give this adoption a boost but it isn’t necessary. Sports games aren’t as popular overall as some other genres and are usually in the middle of the pack with around 12% market share. That still represents millions of players and their demographics skew toward 20 somethings that are college educated and affluent. That’s precisely the same market segment that has made sports betting a booming business.