Esports Betting On The Rise As Industry Continues To Grow

As covered previously, the novel Coronavirus has caused a rift in the sports industry. While traditional stick and ball sports are on pause, esports has quickly been thrown in the spotlight. Major sports leagues have double-downed on the industry, creating a variety of live tournaments.

NASCAR iRacing continues to grow as an option for motorsport fans. The Pro Invitational series has retained impressive viewership on television in its short tenure. The series features real NASCAR drivers behind the gaming wheel. In the latest race this past Sunday, FOX had a total of 1.1 million viewers. Astonishingly, the race was third-highest in views among any sporting event that week according to ShowBuzzDaily. Recently, The Nevada Gaming Control Board approved the series for betting opportunities. The esports series will skip this weekend and continue on April 19th at Richmond Raceway.

The NBA has also joined in on the esports wave in it’s very-own NBA 2K20 players tournament. The tournament kicked off on April 3rd, featuring some of the league’s superstar players such as Kevin Durant, Derrick Jones Jr., and Devin Booker. The champion of this tournament will win $100 thousand that gets directly donated to coronavirus support in their name. This latest engagement effort by the NBA had almost 390,000 viewers in its kickoff game last Friday according to Nielsen reporting.

Sportsbooks were raking in bets as the first game was played. However, shortly thereafter it was found that the head-to-head matches were pre-recorded and leaked online before the television broadcast. Gamblers that had the advantage of knowing the outcome drew five figures worth of cash according to Sports Illustrated. Since then, the Sportsbooks have canceled all betting for the rest of the tournament.

Soccer has begun to have a large presence online in esports with many initiatives conducted by several leagues. The MLS recently held an eMLS tournament featuring rival MLS players, following a similar model to the NBA2K20 player’s tournament. Paris Saint-German has begun its own All At Home Gaming tournament which kicked off on Sunday. The tournament has recently been confirmed to be broadcasted by BeIN for the remaining games. Liga MX will kick off its own esports tournament tomorrow in partnership with Univision’s TUDN. TUDN will exclusively broadcast games featuring high-caliber players from every Liga MX team.

Star-studded English soccer players will also take to their controllers this weekend over Easter in a FIFA 20 tournament. The #FootballsStayingHomeCup will feature star men and women players like Olympique Lyonnial’s Lucy Bronze, and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold. Much of the goals for these tournaments are to raise awareness of government efforts in fighting the Coronavirus. While there are no bets on the table for this esports tournament, it is a notable mention for the industry.

Esports betting is continuing to receive a lot of attention nationwide. According to The Online Betting Guide, it has received an increase of traffic on its esports betting page by 943%. The market for esports betting alone is projected to grow to $30 billion just this year, according to Daniel Kelly, Academic Director of graduate programs and Clinical Associate Professor at NYU School of Professional Studies Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport.

The continuous and rapid growth of attention on esports brings an opportunity for further brand sponsorships and exposure. This live sports option is appearing to fill the void for the time being, meaning brands have avenues to live on virtual screens. In the coming weeks as tournaments continue, we will closely analyze the value brands receive from association.

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Carson Boykin

Assistant Account Executive, Sports