Betting in eSports has grown exponentially during and after the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. As physical sports shut down due to the need for social distancing, eSports too center stage. Esports betting, however, grew rapidly for many years and now the adoption is where some experts predicted it would be in 2025-2026.
For people coming over after years of betting on sports, betting here can feel somewhat different. Esports share many similarities with sports, so what are the key differences?
Gambling Industry in the US and worldwide
The gambling industry in America has been growing rather slowly in the last couple of decades compared to some Asian and European markets. The reason is that it is usually only legal to gamble in a handful of states and online gambling is almost everywhere prohibited. The great regulatory scrutiny is heavily limiting the industry, but voices are raised how legalizing gambling (and online gambling in particular) can be a stream of taxes for some states. Such example is New York where gov Cuomo has been publicly cited to be interested in opening the state for gamblers.
In some other markets such as the Middle East or large parts of Africa and Asia, gambling is all but prohibited by law and religion. However, the industry has been growing everywhere else around the globe! Online gambling has eaten part of the land-based gambling activities in much of Europe. The UK, Germany and Scandinavia have been very large markets for online casinos and betting companies.
At the same time Macau has taken Asia by storm and is the gambling capital of the whole continent. The Philippines (especially Manilla) has been gaining ground on them and lots of neighboring countries have taken a look at that as a way to boost their economies. Even Japan has started a slow process of discussions whether they should enter this industry. Further south New Zealand has a well-respected regulatory body supervising gambling. The southern Asian and Oceania markets have been mostly open to sports though. If you want to know how sports betting works here, check this source of information.
Now we take a look at some of the major differences and similarities between eSports and sports betting.
What is eSports Betting?
The industry of eSports has been on the rise for a couple of years now especially after The International 2019 that offered the biggest prize pool worth US$34.3 million. Another interesting fact is that the League of Legends World Championship 2019 Grand Finals was viewed by more people than the Super Bowl 2020. While the very first eSports tournament was held almost fifty years ago, the industry of eSports has taken off just recently.
As one of the fastest growing as well as one of the most profitable industries in the world, eSports has its loyal fans and many of these are avid sports bettors. The truth is, wagering on eSports is a big thing today even though eSports betting got off to a quite slow start.
Thanks the rising popularity of eSports betting industry, it is now valued at over US$1 billion in 2021 and this is a massive fifty percent increase from 2020. In February, Robbie Douek from Blast evaluated the industry’s 2021 prospects by saying
“We’ll need to meet the requirements and legislation to protect it as much as possible, but I think it’s in a good space at this moment in time. We’ll see what happens.”
When it comes to eSports betting, it is quite popular among young American bettors, so there is no wonder why all major sports betting sites offer the opportunity to place bets on the biggest eSports competitions and events. The professional eSports contests are those related to the top 10 game titles such as:
- Counter Strike Global Offensive
- Call of Duty
- Dota 2
- Super Smash Bros
- Street Fighter
- League of Legends
- Heroes of the Storm
- Starcraft II
Rocket League, PUBG, and World of Tanks come close as they are all quite popular too.
eSports Vs Sports Betting
Real money betting on traditional sports such as football and basketball is quite similar to betting on the most exciting eSports events. However, the industry of eSports betting is not as developed as the standard sports betting industry. Americans interested in eSports betting can usually choose either skins-based and cash-based eSports betting sites. Some of the major similarities between eSports and traditional sports betting:
- Both industries are enriched with technological advancements
- In-depth stats for both eSports and sports bettors
- An abundance of eSports and sports betting sites
- Very similar betting options are offered
- Very similar betting strategies are employed
On the outside, eSports and sports betting look not so similar but the reality is the two industries are similar in those fundamental aspects. Both eSports and sports bettors place wagers on tournaments, series, and games which means their structure is quite similar. The level of strategy involved is also shared. For both eSports and sports bettors, there is an abundance of betting sites available and the vast majority of them offer in-depth stats on all events.
Commenting on the growth of eSports in comparison to the traditional sports events, the Activision Blizzard’s eSports Division Chairman and former NFL Network and ESPN CEO, Steven Borenstein said in one of his official statements:
“I believe eSports will rival the biggest traditional sports leagues in terms of future opportunities, and between advertising, ticket sales, licensing, sponsorships and merchandising, there are tremendous growth areas for this nascent industry.”
This leads us to some of the key differences between eSports and sports betting.
|The Major Differences Between eSports and Sports Betting|
|eSports Betting||Sports Betting|
|Intricate betting is more common with eSports with a match system in place||Most standard sports events are decided by a single match|
|eSports betting relies on luck more||In standard sports betting, the better team wins most of the time|
|Win percentages in eSports betting are always more random||In standard sports betting, win percentages are not so random|
|More volatile ecosystem||Less volatile ecosystem|
|Everything is digitalized with all the games and matches played on computers||Possible faulty human interactions|
|Minor and major updates and changes happening quite frequently||Fundamental changes occur rarely|
|Knockout and league-based formats||League-based formats|
|More betting options with defuse handicaps, bomb plant handicaps, round handicaps||Sometimes limited betting options|