From Headshots to Marketing: Exploring the Esports Betting Basics


15 minutes to read

Yaroslav Ulianov
Yaroslav Ulianov

Content manager with expertise in iGaming

Have you heard of esports? It’s the latest branch in online betting and for good reason. With millions of fans and a wide variety of games, esports has quickly become a valuable asset for betting operators. And the best part? Its popularity is growing, so you can expect even more exciting tournaments and competitions.

For iGaming entrepreneurs or platform owners, this presents a unique opportunity for you to expand your betting business model. Let’s delve into this topic, understand the similarities and differences between esports and traditional sports, identify the challenges to prepare for, and explore what to expect from esports betting in the upcoming years.

Understanding the Growing Popularity of Esports Betting

“First blood!”, “Headshot!”, “Rampage!”—if these words don’t sound familiar, here are basic explanations.

Esports, also known as electronic sports, is a rapidly growing industry that involves competitive video gaming at a professional level. It requires individuals or teams to compete against each other in various game formats that encompass a wide range of video game genres, including Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA), First-Person Shooter (FPS), Real-Time Strategy (RTS), fighting games, sports simulations, and card games. Each genre requires different skill sets, strategies, and levels of team coordination. 

Esports events are often organized into tournaments or leagues, ranging from local or online community events to large-scale international championships. The events are streamed online and often held in large arenas with live audiences, similar to traditional sports events. The esports business is rapidly growing because its highly competitive nature attracts millions of players and spectators worldwide.

Examples of esports: League of Legends
Examples of esports: DOTA 2
First-Person Shooter: Counter Strike 2
Battle royale games: PUBG
Real-Time Strategy: Starcraft 2
Sports simulations: EA FIFA
Other esports examples: Hearthstone

Market analysis reveals a promising future for online esports betting, with a projected revenue of US$2.5 billion by 2024. This market segment is set to grow annually at a robust rate of 7.27%, propelling the market volume to a staggering US$3.3 billion by 2028. This upward trajectory presents a compelling investment opportunity, as the market shows no signs of slowing down.

The projection of Esports Betting market revenue growth (Source: Statista)
The projection of Esports Betting market revenue growth (Source: Statista)

During the pandemic, online entertainment experienced a significant surge in popularity due to the restrictions on offline sports and activities. Esports also saw an increase in interest, but unlike virtual sports, it did not fundamentally change the industry. Esports has always been an independent sector with its own subtypes and directions. For example, Dota 2 and Counter-Strike 2 are different disciplines, just as tennis and football are distinct sports.

Esports businesses have a dedicated audience that mainly consists of younger individuals. Most of this audience includes people from Gen Z and Millennial categories, aged 16-34. They appreciate the skill, strategy, and competitive spirit of esports, and their spending on gaming-related products and services reflects their commitment. Also, the fact that they are willing to back crowdfunding campaigns for developing games and organizing esports shows demonstrates how much they want the industry to thrive.

Audience portrait for the esports business model
Audience portrait for the esports business model

Esports vs Sports Betting

💬 Esports betting has gained popularity because it shares more than just similarities with traditional sports. For example, when I watch the Champions League final or The International as a fan of both football and Dota 2, I feel the same emotions and interest in what is happening. I also feel a sense of connection, knowing that I'm part of a larger community of sports enthusiasts, regardless of the platform where I watch the broadcast.

Both forms of betting provide a range of betting options, including match winners, over/under scores, handicaps, and prop bets. The structures for placing bets are similarly designed, making it easy for bettors to engage with both forms of betting. In addition, both traditional sports and esports platforms provide extensive data and analytics tools. These tools empower bettors to make informed decisions based on historical data, player/team form, and statistical analysis, enhancing confidence in their predictions. 

Esports and sports have vibrant communities and fan engagement, with fans closely following their favorite teams or players. In-game chats, Twitch translations, social media, and betting platforms are hubs for discussions, tips, and sharing predictions. What's more, the thrill of live betting is not exclusive to traditional sports. Gambling on esports also offers this dynamic and exciting feature, allowing bettors to place wagers on matches as they are happening, amplifying the excitement and engagement. But there are differences, and they are no less significant.

DOTA 2 finals by Steve Kidd: Four main ROE Visual LED screens, measuring 32 feet tall by lengths of 70 and 49 feet, fulfilled the obligatory stage surround featuring all the action of the game.
DOTA 2 finals by Steve Kidd: Four main ROE Visual LED screens, measuring 32 feet tall by lengths of 70 and 49 feet, fulfilled the obligatory stage surround featuring all the action of the game.

Differences that set the two apart 

Online esports gambling is distinct from traditional sports betting in several ways. It appeals to a younger audience, deeply immersed in digital platforms and video gaming culture. Unlike traditional sports betting, which relies on understanding the sport, teams, and players, esports betting demands a comprehensive grasp of the specific game being played, including its mechanics, strategies, and player roles.

Esports betting is not just about the games but also about the technology surrounding them. The matches are shorter and more frequent, creating a fast-paced betting environment with ample opportunities to wager within a brief period. The betting platforms are technologically advanced, often featuring live streams of events, interactive elements, and social media integration, enhancing the overall betting experience.

Esports betting faces unique challenges and scrutiny, depending on the jurisdiction. The world of esports is dynamic, with game strategies, team compositions, and even game updates by developers changing rapidly. This volatility can impact betting outcomes. In contrast, traditional sports, while not immune to upsets and changes, generally offer more stable and long-term statistical data for analysis.

One key factor driving the growth of esports betting is the accessibility of tournaments and competitions. Unlike traditional sports, esports can be enjoyed from anywhere in the world with the internet. This digital accessibility allows for a broader reach and creates opportunities for bettors to engage in real-time action.

Vladyslav Andrusenko, Sportsbook Head of Product
Vladyslav Andrusenko, Sportsbook Head of Product

Challenges in Providing Esports Betting

If you're keen on entering the world of esports betting, there are several challenges you need to be aware of. Here are some of the key challenges you might encounter:

⚠️ Each game is a sport: Esports consists of many games, each with its unique rules, formats, and competitive scenes. You need a team with a deep understanding of these games to offer meaningful betting markets and ensure accurate odds.

⚠️ Anti-cheat: The industry has faced match-fixing, cheating, and underage participation challenges. You need comprehensive risk management tools and close cooperation with game developers, tournament organizers, and regulatory bodies to detect and prevent such issues.

⚠️ Real-time data reliance: Reliable, real-time data is crucial for setting esports odds, live esports betting, and providing bettors with relevant information. You'll need partnerships with data providers or direct relationships with tournament organizers to acquire accurate and timely data from esports matches. Additionally, analyzing this data demands expertise in sports betting and each esports title's specific dynamics.

⚠️ Tech audit: Offering esports betting requires a technology stack capable of supporting live streaming, rapid data processing, and a high volume of user interactions, especially for in-play betting.

⚠️ Market volatility: Yesterday's champions could become outsiders in esports. The industry is characterized by rapid changes, including shifts in-game popularity, the rise and fall of teams and players, and frequent game updates that can alter competitive dynamics. 

What to Keep in Mind From the Platform’s Perspective

Integrating esports betting into your platforms is not a straightforward task. It presents a set of unique challenges stemming from the distinct nature of esports and its specific audience expectations. Understanding these unique aspects is crucial for businesses to navigate the integration process effectively. Below are some of the main challenges that you may encounter.

Esports events are known for their fast pace and data intensity. To provide a seamless betting experience, your platform must be equipped with a robust technical infrastructure. This infrastructure should be capable of handling live data feeds, streaming matches, and supporting in-play betting. It's essential to ensure real-time data accuracy and minimal latency, aligning with the rapid dynamics of esports matches.

The esports audience, primarily composed of younger, tech-savvy individuals, has high expectations for their online experience. To meet these expectations, your platform's user experience design must be top-notch. It should feature a user-friendly interface with intuitive navigation and mobile optimization. Incorporating elements like live streaming, interactive features, and social functionalities can further enhance the user experience, but it requires careful design and implementation.

Integrating diverse content is also crucial. Esports encompasses various games with unique rules, formats, and fan bases. Offering esports wagering requires diverse content on the platform. This includes accurate and timely game data, event schedules, and live streams, all of which may come from different sources.

⚠️ For instance, there are nuances of Twitch's translation delay that prevent stream sniping but complicate live betting.

Fraud and cheating prevention is also a significant concern. The competitive and financial stakes in esports betting make it a target for fraud and cheating, including match-fixing, hacking, and abuse of betting systems. Platforms need sophisticated monitoring and detection systems to identify suspicious activities and protect the integrity of betting operations.

💡 However, a plug-and-play Sportsbook iFrame with no code integration could be a solution to these challenges due to its easy implementation and customization to your region. ➡️ Click for more details.

Strategies for Marketing Esports Betting Offerings

Sports betting marketing is similar to traditional sports, but the differences in target audience require a change in tone of voice and distribution channels. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Create content that educates your audience about esports betting and highlights the unique advantages of in-play esports betting.
  • Use social media platforms and online communities to engage with potential customers and showcase your platform's features and promotions.
  • Collaborate with influential esports personalities or streamers to reach their devoted fan bases and tap into their networks.
  • Offer sign-up bonuses, free bets, or other incentives to encourage new users to try esports gambling on your platform.
  • Monitor and analyze customer data to identify target demographics and tailor your marketing efforts accordingly.

Creating a vibrant community among your users is a powerful tool to enhance their overall experience on your platform. Consider hosting esports tournaments, creating forums for discussions, or providing exclusive content for your members. Building a strong and engaged community around your brand can significantly increase user loyalty and encourage word-of-mouth referrals, ultimately leading to organic growth for your esports betting platform.

Also, partnering with esports organizations can be mutually beneficial. You can leverage their fan bases and tap into their networks by collaborating with teams, leagues, or tournament organizers. Offer exclusive promotions to foster fan engagement and increase brand exposure within the rapidly growing esports industry. Co-hosting events or sponsoring tournaments can significantly increase brand visibility and attract new users to your platform while financially supporting teams and events.

Team Secret partnered with Stake, an online gaming and betting platform, and launched a promo featuring their Dota 2 team:

The Future of Esports Betting

I've been keeping up with the latest developments in the Esports betting landscape, and it's fascinating to see how the sector is evolving. From collaborations with esports teams to the adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency, plenty of factors influence the market's evolution and prospects for expansion.

Vladyslav Andrusenko, Sportsbook Head of Product
Vladyslav Andrusenko, Sportsbook Head of Product

One of the most thrilling aspects of esports betting online is its integration with conventional gambling platforms. It's not just about predicting match winners anymore. With the advent of live betting and streaming, fans can now immerse themselves in the action, experiencing the thrill of real-time interaction with the matches.

Peak viewers of leading esports tournaments worldwide in millions (Source: Statista)
Peak viewers of leading esports tournaments worldwide in millions (Source: Statista)

Looking ahead, the esports betting market is set for a significant boom. The global Esports community, especially among young people, is expanding rapidly. This surge in interest and participation in esports gambling is a testament to the sport's growing popularity. The well-established leagues and tournaments also provide a reliable platform for betting, while technological advancements like live streaming and mobile betting are making the market more accessible to new enthusiasts.

Overall, the future looks bright for the esports betting market, with significant growth expected over the next decade. With the widespread acceptance of esports as a legitimate form of entertainment, it's exciting to see how the sector will continue to evolve and innovate.

The Final Round

Esports betting presents a unique opportunity for betting operators to expand their offerings. With its diverse genres and global tournaments, esports captivates a young, tech-savvy audience always looking for fresh and innovative ways to engage with their favorite games. However, a profound understanding of the esports ecosystem is paramount to successfully integrating esports betting. This includes the challenges of betting on digital competitions, the ever-evolving games and player preferences, and the technical requirements of offering live data-intensive betting options. Operators who can tailor their user experience to meet the unique needs of this demographic will be well-positioned for success. 

While certain primary disciplines may not be experiencing significant audience growth, the future of esports betting is bright. Betting operators who seize the opportunity to understand and cater to this unique sector can unlock new revenue streams and play a pivotal role in mainstreaming esports as a whole. With the right approach, operators can infuse their betting platforms with a thrilling new dimension.

Enter the esports betting with GR8 Tech

With our expertise in operations, we know how to match iGaming and esports. Get in touch if you want to expand your iGaming business with esports.

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