Esports is one of the fastest growing businesses in the sports and betting landscape, set to pass the $1.1 billion threshold in global revenues this year. New broadcasting and state of the art venues to take in competitions are taking place across North American. Widespread betting on the sport seems like a no-brainer, but there is a big problem lurking in the shadows.
It was revealed last week in a study co-published by Brett Abarbanel of the International Gaming Institute and Mark R. Johnson of the University of Alberta. A chief result of their findings is that many fans of competitive eSports don’t mind if gamers lose intentionally.
That has major implications if there is serious money being staked on the outcome. As Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL is fond of demonstrating, the Shield, or the integrity of the sport takes precedence over all.
Most sports and fans of those sports would not stand for cheating and they would not have become the multi-billion-dollar industries they have become if there were questions about the results. But that is a huge stumbling block when it comes to popularizing and legalizing betting on eSports in the gaming industry.
At the same time, casinos are more than intrigued in adding eSports to their suite of services for a couple of important reasons. On the one hand with the legalizing of sports betting coming to more and more states, the competition to lure gamblers is fiercer than ever and it is only going to get stronger.
On the other, it is the fact that the target audience of your average eSports gamer and better is a casino’s dream client. It’s that affluent millennial aged between 23 and 38 years old which would not only boost current revenues, but also would also bring in new revenues over the course of decades.
Monitoring integrity issues in eSports is still very much an unknown. It is simply hard to tell if a gamer is intentionally trying to lose amid such rapid changing, non-stop action.
But that is a challenge that regulators are going to have to figure out. There is simply too much money involved and too many players in the sphere for it to go any other way.
Thus far, states that have legalized sports betting are hesitant to do the same for eSports, but it is coming. Nevada seems to be leading the way with four sportsbooks having already sought out regulatory permission to start offering esports Bets.
The rest will soon to follow.