Gaming America was in attendance at Stamford Bridge today as experts gathered to discuss the path esports betting will take in years to come at SBC’s Betting on Sports Europe event.
Moderated by Sam Cooke, managing director at Esports Insider, the panel also included Bart Barden, COO of Esports Technologies; Thomas Rosander, CEO, Luckbox; Stuart Tilly, chief legal officer of Esports Entertainment Group; Anton Janer, co-founder of Abios; and Marek Suchar, managing partner at Odin.
Last week, the Counter Strike Global Offensive Major took place in Stockholm, becoming the most viewed CSGO event in history with 2.7 million viewers, double the previous event. Fueled by a post-Covid world, the tournament, which had a prize pool of $2m, emphasized the excitement surrounding esports. According to the panel, this excitement was reflected in increased betting handle.
Tilly said: “The pandemic led to an increase in esports betting, specifically the sports-focused titles, Fifa, Madden and 2K.”
Janer agreed, suggesting when compared to two years ago the number of esports bettors has increased dramatically, partly due to young gamers ageing and entering an older demographic.
“Pre-pandemic, esports betting was about as popular as marble racing, over the pandemic it became the number one product overnight; it has fallen since but can now be compared to darts or snooker,” added Tilly.
“In regard to esports betting, or in esports in general, we are yet to see the entrance of a new generation of esports bettors that do not bet on traditional sports. With the new generation, Gen Z and millennials, they will become this. By 2025 we will be facing a new group of esports bettors who will want new games and new products that the traditional sportsbook does not provide,” noted Rosander.
“Esports betting is like a kid in a candy store, 500 million different potential customers, but it's almost too much for big operators. Thus, they will wait until these problems fix themselves,” said Barden.
In terms of who will be the first to really take advantage of esports, Tilly questioned the role of big operators: “It is on the mind of big operators but they have realised, I think, that they can not operate these esports platforms themselves.”
In regards to the main challenges to esports in terms of growth, the panel was positive.
“I think we are in a completely unique time, this change in generations, in how they consume entertainment, this new generation are so accessible, they want to consume content and we need to create an experience that matches this,” claimed Rosander.
Clearly, the panel believes the future of esports is bright, but the segment faces a number of key challenges. Specifically, this talk highlighted the need for esports betting to find a market of its own, rather than borrowing bettors from traditional sports.