ESports continues to grow and so does side betting
ESports events are growing like wildfire around the globe. In 2017 the Esports Economy grew to a $700 million industry, a year-on-year growth of 41.3%. Brands are expected to spend $517 million, broken down into $155 million on advertising, $266 million on sponsorship, and a further $95 million on media rights. Brand investment will double by 2020, pushing the total market to a whopping $1.5 billion.
Esports tournament casino betting
It comes as no surprise that these skill-based competitions, as they evolve, go hand-in-hand with a desire to bet on their outcomes.The fighting games tournament Evo, held at the Mandalay Bay in 2017 and at various Las Vegas casinos since 2005, has a culture of casual wagering that stands to put some licensees at risk of gaming violations. Again this proves that the legislation concerning (online) gambling is something that needs attention in a structural way. Especially where it comes to Esports, the audience only gets younger and minors should not be in the business of gambling because they often can’t oversee the consequences.
The casino industry however, is very eager to embrace competitive video gaming, believing it provides a crucial platform for connecting with the hard-to-reach millennial generation. The decline in relatively young slot players has been going on for years and Esports could be the big break the casino industry has been waiting for. The dynamics of eSports have many academics and industry insiders believing these pursuits will have a great influence on casino games in the future.
As events surrounding eSports become more popular, some people are learning about a culture of players wanting to bet on these competitive matches in ways that potentially cause concern for gaming regulators.
eSports arena in Las Vegas
Las Vegas already has its own eSports arena, the Neonopolis in downtown Vegas. MGM Resorts is planning another, bigger venue near the Luxor on the Strip. Until then, Level Up at the MGM Grand represents the casino giant’s efforts to create a millennial playground, in the form of a 12,000-square-foot arcade for skill-based gaming.
Neonopolis ESports Arena Las Vegas
“Money Match” Culture
It’s perhaps not surprising that competitive events such as Evo, the Evolution Championship Series, which has been held in Las Vegas casinos since 2005, inspire people to want to play for more than pride. Gamers at Evo like to ramp up the competitiveness with so-called “money matches,” challenging each other to put their money where their mouth is. Gamers contend this is usually simple social betting, casual wagers among friends for $5 or $10.
But given the enthusiasm for wagering, and the amount of money currently being poured into the eSports industry, it is only a matter of time before parties will expand this operation into something far larger by running an illegal book of the games.
“Generally speaking, it is not illegal to wager socially, unless somebody is taking a cut,” AG Burnett, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board (GCB) told the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week.
Discussions between casinos and tournament organizers will be initiated to make sure everyone is aware of what is and is not allowed in terms of betting, and what the expectations are of casino licensees. The exploding ESports industry will also need to be regulated properly, especially because these kind of tournaments can easily be set up online through channels like Twitch.
Regardless of type, both social and informal, money matching and internationally formal bookmaking is already taking place and will continue to grow as the ESports market will continue to grow. This wagering presents a huge opportunity if the industry can make it technologically viable and standardized to be available to a public that clearly wants it to be legal and possible.