ESports is the future of sports betting and will grow from a $250m global wagering market in 2015 to one worth $23bn by 2020, according to new research.
Leading lights from the industry are in Berlin for the Excellence in iGaming conference and the figures were revealed at a panel talk that gathered to discuss the key issues affecting the growing eSports gaming market.
One speaker, Marco Blume, head of sportsbook at Pinnacle Sports and a professional eSports player, said his firm reached one million wagers on eSports in 2014.
It is currently Pinnacle’s seventh largest market, ahead of golf and rugby, and Blume expects it to overtake hockey soon and then take on the likes of football and tennis.
He said: “You can bet on eSports any day of the year, any time of the day. It is 24/7, 365. There are no breaks and there is always something you can bet on. The potential is huge.”
Another speaker was Rahul Sood, who set up Microsoft Ventures before creating eSports betting site Unikrn.
He said: “It is a thriving industry with a lot of viewers and a lot of content. It works for betting because there are so many game plays to make, so many strategies. You can really think outside the box when coming up with betting options.”
Jens Hilger, chairman of the Electronic Sports League, said that in 20 years’ time sports like football, baseball, basketball and Formula 1 will be minor compared to eSports. Research firm New Zoo estimates that global eSports awareness will reach a total of 1.2 billion gamers by 2017.
Unikrn, Dafabet, Sky Bet, William Hill, Alpha Draft, Pinnacle, Vulcun, Bet365, ESP and Betway are among the operators already exploiting the opportunity.
Daily fantasy sports sites have also seized on the burgeoning market.
DraftKings has signed partnerships with industry organisations Team SoloMid, SK Gaming, CLOUD9, compLexity Gaming, Mousesports and Counter Logic Gaming and its offering went live this month with the start of the League of Legends World Championships.
After DraftKings’ announcement, FanDuel moved quickly to snap up daily fantasy eSports platform AlphaDraft.