What’s Bringing eSports Betting to the Mainstream?

Written by:
Alistair Prescott
Published on:

As a more recent form of entertainment in the betting world, eSport titles have only gained real international gambling attention since the turn of the new millennium. The success of eSports has been rapid, going from a niche interest to throwing tournaments today which draw more viewers than Wimbledon.

There’s still a disconnect here between general audiences and betting audiences, however. Professional video gaming still doesn’t enjoy the betting fame of more established names like football or poker, but steps can and are being taken to address this disparity. So, what are these steps, and what makes industry insiders sure that the major success of betting on eSports is a matter of when and not if?

Improving Audience Tools

It doesn't matter how much everyone loves a sport, if there's no way to watch, then betting loses its lustre. Various viewing tools and forms of access have arisen over the short time of eSports' existence.

The most obvious of these has to be the streaming capabilities made possible through Twitch. While not the only streaming service on the net, Twitch’s focus on gaming placed it in a prime position to grow eSports competitions and demonstrate audience interest.

Setting up a major eSports tournament is expensive work, and it can be a major risk if an organizer lacks confidence in a competitive scene. Since it arrived in 2011, Twitch has demonstrated a constant level of interest in eSports, growing different scenes from a few friends to major international events.

One great example of how this streaming service helped is with the fighting game tournament Evo. Starting under the name “Battle by the Bay” in 1996, Evo originally grew by word of mouth and online message boards. In the streaming age, the greater visibility afforded by sites like Twitch skyrocketed Evo in the public consciousness. According to Dexerto.com, 2023 has been Evo's biggest year to date, and a big part of this is owed to the work of Twitch and the streamers who call this service home.


The other side of this equation is the tools that are available within the games themselves. While it’s always been possible to view competing players through live broadcasts and screen mirroring, this isn’t often the best way to watch. This is like watching football through a helmet cam; interesting but not the most helpful. Game developers have addressed this issue by adopting proper spectating cameras with tools not available to active players. These tools allow features like team health displays, the ability to see through walls, ability cooldowns, and other useful information to help viewers make sense of the action.

A Change in Culture

All of the tools and improved forms of access in the world won’t count for anything if the culture surrounding video games hadn’t shaken off its early roots. A change in gaming culture over the years has allowed for video games to be taken far more seriously than in the first few generations. This is partly due to the average gamer age increasing over the decades - dataprot.net notes that gamers are now 35 years old on average. Audiences today are old enough to understand how involved and complicated competitive gaming can be, and this drives interest in high-level competition.

Cultural changes are also illustrated by video game merchandise, ideas, and memes increasingly finding their way into the popular zeitgeist. Even if you’re not at all familiar with video games, the odds are you have some knowledge of the breakout hits, their most famous characters, and how the game generally plays out. Alongside music, movies, and TV, games permeate cultural existence on a level that can’t be ignored in the digital age.

Serving Customers

Rounding out all of the above developments is the range of modern betting systems that have been developed to combine eSports games and their audiences with a way to bet. This has been a long time coming, and it tends to be the purview of the online world rather than physical betting parlours. Big thanks have to go to the online casino market, which has made a name for itself by constantly pushing the envelope and exploring new ways to deliver opportunities to bettors.

A prime example of this could be illustrated by the wealth of poker opportunities shared between websites on a service like spelaspel.se. The diversity of these websites from Unibet to PokerStars is built on delivering experiences for as many players as possible through free games, tournament play, and access over desktop and mobile devices. This approach in poker and other online betting competitions laid the groundwork for eSports betting websites to follow suit, and in doing so gave video game betting a head start.

- Alistair Prescott, Gambling911.com

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