Screenshot of League of Legends eSports Tournament

Not so long ago, video games were regarded at best as a nice pastime and at worst as a time-consuming addicting habit. Children have always enjoyed playing them and the advent of Internet gave them new opportunities. It is now possible to play against people from the opposite end of the world at the highest level. Competition increased and the quality of the games rose as well, making possible the arrival of eSports. Now bookmakers are paying attention to this market and try to tap into its immense potential.

In 2016, some important milestones were sent by industry leaders and the upcoming years promise to be even better. One year ago, bookies started to realize that eSports could generate a lot of money and bring in more customers. Videogame players who would generally stay away from betting were willing to wager real money on the games they understood. Today, all important bookies have a section featuring video games and this is the fastest growing area on most websites.

Skin Gambling Acts as a Catalyst for eSports

Most developers produce video games that players need to pay for ones and some even require a subscription. This is the main way to monetize a quality product, but some companies chose alternative ways. Now there are plenty of free to play games of superior quality that relies on micro-transaction for financing. League of Legends, Dota 2 and Counter Strike Global Offensive are all counting on players purchasing vanity items to stay profitable.

As all these three games are at the top of the list of eSports, a lot of money was invested by players. The skin gambling industry is still in its infant stages and already generates huge revenue. Players can acquire skills for weapons and heroes as well as other vanity items with real cash. They don’t affect the gameplay and don’t give anyone an unfair edge over competitors. However, they have the upside of making it easier for players to differentiate themselves and give bragging rights.

Skin gambling generated some unfavorable attention recently and some companies had to suppress these lucrative activities. Overall, they result in a significant influx of money and provided developers with the resources to improve their games. From a bookmaker’s perspective, this means that the games at hand have a bright future ahead. People who bet on individual matches and tournaments are flocking to their online platforms, bringing in more customers.

eSports and Traditional Sports Coexist in Harmony

A couple of years ago few paid attention to eSports and nobody regarded them as a serious competitor to traditional sports. Things have gradually changed and for a while there were bookmakers that were really concerned about a shift in tide. However, nowadays there is consensus among professionals that the two betting markets can coexist. The vast majority of those who bet on video games pay little attention to regular sports and the other way around.

The good news is that once videogame players open a real money account with the bookmaker, they discover the upsides of betting on sports. These markets are not mutually exclusive and it is more likely to have people betting once they get online. Bookies have promptly reacted to this and have greatly increased the number of esports. More video games were added and more attention is nowadays paid to lesser competitions and obscure tournaments.

The eSports is also helping bookmakers indirectly, with its tremendous event growth. League of Legends, Dota 2 and Counter Strike Global Offensive are just some of the most popular videogames played at competitive level. StarCraft Legacy of the Void and World of Tanks are shining examples of other games people can bet on. It is expected that eSports events will continue to grow and punters will get better at predicting winners.

Lucrative Opportunities for eSports Punters

Sports betting has been around for hundreds of years and the modern variety is not exactly a novelty. When they made the transition from brick-and-mortar betting to the online arena, bookies used the same system. They had plenty of time to adjust the odds and find the perfect algorithms to make sure the house always wins. Nobody expects the eSports to be any different, but it will take a while until bookmakers will get a clear edge over their players.

The thing about those who bet on video games is that they are first and foremost players. An insignificant minority of those who bet on these events know nothing about games and wager blindly. In fact, the majority of punters have a thorough understanding of the games and can place good bet in real-time. This means that bookmakers have a harder time at pricing winners and they need to be extra careful when setting the odds. They can’t take chances because players will be quick to exploit any loopholes.

The pool of experienced videogame traders is not that big but growing fast. Now that most of the online dating bookmakers have introduced this type of betting, interest is growing. Many players didn’t have the chance of betting in the first place and were anxiously waiting for an opportunity. Competition among bookies will force them to introduce new events and this is where things will get interesting. They are still trying to understand the esports fans as much as they try to understand the games themselves.

Obstacles Down the Road of Success

The esports fairytale is unlikely to end anytime soon but there are also a couple of concerns to address. Most people only look at the advantages of having videogames and betting go hand-in-hand. The upsides are self evident, but there are also risks and challenges that need to be dealt with promptly. Game integrity is one of them and match fixing is a real threat at all levels. With money on the table, many players contemplate the possibility of throwing a match to grab easy cash.

There were plenty of instances in which players chose to walk down this path and this includes superstars. In the absence of clear regulations, many will try to bend the rules and even fix matches. The consequences will be dire both on short and long-term. Players will obviously lose money when betting on these games, but the industry will be hurt as well. If people lose confidence in the fairness of the games, they will stop betting and this will severely hurt bookmakers.

Cash gambling on video games is already big and will continue to grow, so players will be more tempted to cheat. Authorities in several countries including South Korea took serious action against those who might chose to act this way. Players risk huge fines and even serv time in jail if they break the rules. Small steps are being made worldwide to curb such temptations and make gambling safe.

TV Networks Jump on the Bandwagon

2016 was a great year for esports because TV outlets and media companies took notice of its growth. ESPN and other industry giants are now broadcasting the games live. The Internet also acts as a catalyst for the betting industry by providing immediate and unrestricted access to players. People can watch competitive games live or broadcast their own matches to whoever is interested in seeing them in action.

The projections for the next couple of years are optimistic, as demand is expected to grow even further. With video games now being broadcasted on TV, the popularity of land-based and online events will continue to grow. For all major videogames, there are local, national and international tournaments. The world championship of eSports has more viewers than some of the most important sports competitions.

Many of those who sign up for online bookmakers do so to be able to bet in real-time. eSports are perfect for this type of wagering and provide more betting opportunities than any of their counterparts. During each game there are dozens of moments when the fate of the match can be decided. Bookmakers have a hard time at pricing these events which usually take no more than a couple of seconds. They delay the placement of bets to protect themselves, but savvy e punters still have multiple opportunities to win.

The Bottom Line

The world can no longer afford to ignore the tremendous growth of eSports. The fact that bookmakers have jumped on the bandwagon and media companies are following suit is just another argument. 2016 has been the best year so far for the industry and 2017 should outshine it in every imaginable way. The number of people playing the games is on the rise and the same goes for those who bet on video games. Challenges still remain, but obstacles are meant to be overcome and the industry has a bright future ahead