The crossover between betting and esports was inevitable and seemed like a match made in super highway heaven – and yet the relationship between the two sectors so far has been far from smooth.
Traditional gambling operators have tried to get involved, with companies such as Betway and even Paddy Power launching esports books.
The trouble here is that arguably some bookmakers do not fully understand the industry and, perhaps more importantly, struggle to engage with the esports community. Bookies of this type are used to interacting with football and horse racing fans – typically a very different demographic than that of esports.
On the flipside is gambling platforms that have sprung up specifically to target esports fans. Many of these have been hugely successful in terms of engaging with both players and large audiences, but a lack of gambling industry expertise has been costly for some.
And then there is the issue of regulation. Many services of this type have fallen foul of a failure to comply with the strict rules and regulations associated with being a gambling provider, resulting in stern penalties for some offenders.
“Traditional bookmakers are tentatively dipping their toes in the water, while some companies who have taken the plunge haven’t gone about it the right way in terms of legislation.”
James McMath, Luckbox
Why did these firms not regulate? Some were simply oblivious to the requirements and some thought they could get away with it. Being fully compliant takes effort and money – some companies just chose not to bother.
Esports has been hit by several gambling-related scandals (especially on the in-game skin front) and yet the appetite for betting is ever increasing. But betting in esports is here to stay; companies are realising the market potential is worth the effort of being fully licensed in as many countries as possible.
One such project is Luckbox, a next-generation esports betting platform that is also embracing the emergence of cryptocurrency as a payment method.
“The opportunity for gambling companies within the esports sector is massive,” said Luckbox media manager James McMath.
“So far, no one has really grasped the nettle. Traditional bookmakers are tentatively dipping their toes in the water, while some companies who have taken the plunge haven’t gone about it the right way in terms of legislation – as we have seen with several high-profile cases.
“The numbers speak for themselves. In 2016 in the UK there was an active audience of 6.5million people, with 37million gamers.
“That’s just s small slice of the global esports community and gambling firms cannot afford to ignore that for long.”
Article contains affiliate links