The world of competitive video gaming has exploded in popularity in recent years. What was once a niche hobby has transformed into a full-fledged mainstream entertainment medium, complete with sold-out arenas, million dollar prize pools, and star professional gamers at Skycrown casino who have become household names.
As the profile of esports continues to grow, so too does bet on competitive gaming events and tournaments. Once limited to underground, unregulated markets, sportsbooks across the world now offer a wide variety of betting lines, odds, and prop bets on all levels of professional gaming. Industry research indicates esports betting could grow to over $20 billion over the next five years.
The Rise of Leagues and Tournament Circuits
The growth in popularity of esports betting closely mirrors the rise of organized tournament circuits like the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), Overwatch League, the Call of Duty League, and many more. These structured competitions feature franchised teams with salaried players, coaches, managers, and team houses where gamers live and train together.
Additionally, major tournaments like The International DOTA 2 Championships, League of Legends World Championships, and CS:GO Majors attract hundreds of thousands of live attendees and tens of millions of viewers via online streaming. The 2021 League of Legends World Championship peaked at over 74 million concurrent viewers, exceeding viewership of the Super Bowl.
These leagues and high-profile tournaments have brought structure and accessibility to competitive gaming, priming esports to become a mainstream entertainment option after years as a niche market. The betting industry has taken notice.
Table 1. Sample odds for an esports match
|San Francisco Shock
An Explosion in Wagering Options and Volume
Sportsbooks offer an ever-increasing variety of bet types on professional gaming matches. Traditional wagers like match winner, handicap spreads, and over/under total maps played or kills remain popular. However, prop bets on player-specific performances have seen a sharp rise. Gamblers can now bet on which individual player will score the most kills, achieve the highest creep score, earn the first objective, or amass the most gold or XP in any given matchup.
These micro-wagers have proven extremely popular with both casual and hardcore gaming fans. By betting on granular details within matches rather than just the overall outcome, fans are able to engage with gameplay on a deeper level. The variety of bet options also increases the number of opportunities for bettors to place wagers.
Unsurprisingly, these factors have led to a spike in total money wagered on esports competitions. Analysts observed over $8.3 billion was bet on esports in 2021, with projections expecting that figure to double within two years as betting options and fan engagement continues to surge.
The Role of Game Developers
The developers behind popular esports titles have played a crucial role in laying the foundation for zimpler casino industry growth. Games like League of Legends, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty, and Overwatch have designed their titles specifically to support competitive team-based gameplay that appeals to spectators.
Additionally, developers fully endorse esports betting and have been proactive in providing sportsbooks with statistical APIs and other tools to allow for an ever-growing variety of prop bets and in-game wagering. The symbiotic relationship between game makers and bookmakers will only strengthen the burgeoning ecosystem around esports betting in the years to come.
Ongoing Challenges and Opportunities
While all signs point to an extremely lucrative future for betting on competitive gaming, the industry still faces some challenges. Many mainstream sports fans still express skepticism about considering video games a “real sport,” although perceptions have shifted rapidly, especially among younger demographics.
Additionally, some older generations of gamblers may struggle to understand esports betting lines or follow the action in matches. Bookmakers will need to continue educating novice esports bettors and making wagers more accessible to capture the full market potential. However, these same challenges present opportunities for first-movers to cement themselves as top destinations for esports odds and insight.
The Future is Bright
Esports has transitioned from basement LAN parties to a fully fledged entertainment sensation, complete with stars, brands, investors, and fans. The days of casual hobbyists placing bets in online chat rooms are over. With industry growth showing no signs of slowing down, expect esports betting volume and options to achieve explosive growth in the years ahead. As competitive gaming edges closer to the mainstream, more and more bettors will spin the odds in hopes of hitting it big.