HAS LOCKDOWN BEEN GOOD FOR ESPORTS BETTING?

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As you might know, a virus under the name of Covid-19 forced many parts of the world into a lockdown, a situation where people were not allowed to leave their houses in order to contain the spread of the virus. A second lockdown may come into effect, but the first one already had a considerable impact on the economy.

Many things were canceled or postponed, and this was particularly true for sports. The Premier League was delayed, Cheltenham Festival was held as a virtual event and the ATP Tour was also postponed. In this article, we will have a look at esports betting and whether it has increased because of the cancellation of the real sport events.

WHAT IS ESPORTS BETTING?

Esports is a relatively new development. They are video games such as League of Legends or Call of Duty played competitively and for money. For example, League of Legends has several leagues across several continents, with a World tournament held annually.

The figures for esports spectating are far higher than someone with no knowledge of esports might expect. One League of Legends Invitational amassed 60 million total unique viewers in 2018, which is almost the population of France or the United Kingdom.

There must be lots of esports betting already then you may be thinking. This is not the case for two main reasons. Firstly, these viewers are often under eighteen and therefore cannot bet, meaning that a lot of these views are irrelevant for betting. Secondly, people are just not that keen on betting on video games. It is more difficult to quantify skill in these games often, and there is a slight stigma around it.

AN INCREASE IN ESPORTS BETTING

In March 2019, the grand total of revenue from esports for UK gambling companies was fifty thousand pounds, which is a totally insignificant sum when considering that gambling is a billion-pound industry.

In May 2020, well into the lockdown, the revenue generated by the best esports bookmakers was more than four and a half million pounds or 4.6% of all of sports betting. In a couple of months, esports betting went from totally irrelevant in the gambling world to representing almost 5% of the market!

Based on these figures, we can certainly say that lockdown was absolutely brilliant for esports betting. With lots of sports being canceled, there were two main choices for those who wanted to continue to gamble: bet on events in countries without a lockdown, like Belorussian football, or to gamble on esports.

Many people did turn to Belorussian football, especially older gamblers, for whom esports are inaccessible. However, people also did turn to esports. Gambling on esports does provide good value for money since the games are often exciting.

For those who follow esports closely, they could be confident to have more knowledge than the bookies on the esports, which gives them a competitive advantage, something that can be very rare in online gambling.

The increase in betting from 2019 to 2020 is staggering, with estimates of almost a 3000% rise from March to March. This continued during the lockdown, with a huge 124% increase from March to April. A market doubling in a month is extremely rare, so lockdown was an extremely profitable time for esports and esports betting.

WILL IT LAST?

It is difficult to predict whether this huge increase will last. The numbers will definitely drop and have already started dropping as sports have returned because some people were gambling on esports to fill the void of the Premier League or whatever else they like to bet on.

However, this is not necessarily true for all gamblers and some might have been convinced by their friends to bet on esports, or maybe they had just turned eighteen and were placing their bets. Whatever the reason for betting in the first place, esports bookmakers now face a difficult task: to keep people betting on esports.

There is no simple and easy way to do this or to guarantee keeping gamblers, however, some ideas are better than others. For example, it would be a good idea to develop offers and promotions around esports, to encourage punters to gamble on it even if they were not necessarily planning on doing so.

As well as this, more analysis of esports would surely encourage people to bet on it. Right now, there is a lack of statistical analysis compared to sports like tennis or football, but increasing this could help esports a lot.

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