Traditional sports bookmakers have had a long history of allowing punters to wager on things besides football, horse racing and basketball. Over the years we have seen the bookies offering customers odds on anything from politics to the outcome of television shows. But it’s the esports phenomenon that seems to be getting bookmakers especially excited at the moment.
A quick look around the majority of online bookmakers seems to find a growing number of sites that allow customers to bet on anything from first-person shooters like Counter Strike Global Offensive to battle arena titles such as League of Legends. In addition to this, there is a real trend for dedicated esports betting sites at the moment with brands offering access to niche esports such as World of Tanks whilst providing free live streaming and a host of gamer-friendly options.
Whilst the traditional sporting world still retains a largely unimpressed attitude towards the competitive gaming phenomenon, it seems that bookmakers can’t seem to get enough of esports. Although most bookies seemed to initially focus on just the major esports tournaments like The International, League of Legends World Championship and the Intel Extreme Masters, there are signs that even classic bookmakers are starting to offer a wider variety of esports bets on a daily basis.
A big reason as to why bookies are getting excited about esports, is the fact that the industry is growing at a phenomenal rate. What started as a fairly nerdy activity has now blossomed to become a billion dollar industry where top-level tournaments regularly rack up viewing figures in their millions. And whenever you get large numbers of people watching competitive events, it seems that bookmakers will be evermore dedicated to offering odds on the outcome of the matches.
Although there’s still plenty of debate among sporting organisations such as the International Olympic Committee as to whether esports qualify as a real sport, it seems that bookmakers and gaming fans have much less qualms about making a distinction. For them, it’s all about how esports teams and players can outmanoeuvre each other to win the gaming tournaments that frequently have six-figure prize pool winnings.
Whilst traditional sports in the UK like cricket are struggling to maintain decent viewing figures, for esports, it’s clear that business is booming. Rather than relying on mainstream television networks to broadcast the action, now anybody with a mobile or laptop can follow the live gaming content via a streaming service such as Twitch or YouTube Gaming.
Such convenience undoubtedly helps esports tournaments gain exceptional viewing figures, and it has also made in-play betting a key feature of the esports betting world. Whilst bookies are still trying to figure out how to successfully implement in-play betting for sports like horse racing, there is little such problem when it comes to esports with betting resources like making it easy for gamers to find the betting sites with the best service for in-play betting on video games.
When you couple this with the fact that many dedicated esports betting sites have a free Twitch live streaming channel and even community chat areas built into their websites, it’s easy to see how esports betting offers a much more dynamic interface that a standard sports bookmaker site.
However, there is still plenty of work to be done before esports finds its true place on many traditional bookies’ sites. This is largely due to the fact that esports is such a new phenomenon that it can occasionally appear impervious to outsiders. Team names like Unicorns of Love are hardly likely to sit well with a typical sporting audience, and then there is the fact that esports tournaments are still in a state of flux and will take time to settle into a format that mirrors the standard sporting calendar.
But with games developers like Blizzard Entertainment making moves to set up properly organised tournaments such as the Overwatch League that features a fixed number of teams and ensures an adequate salary for its players, it’s hoped that esports could soon win over even the most traditional of punters.