Uptick in Gaming and Esports spells good news for Bookmakers
Around the world people are distancing and spending more time home. Traditional sports events are cancelled, the Olympics has been postponed. Esports tournaments too have been cancelled but that’s less of a worry to a phenomenon that has its origins at home and online.
Gamers and their fans are returning to their roots and playing and watching at home. And, esports is gaining a new audience and top titles new players as home-bound and laid off citizens look to entertain themselves whilst staying home.
Along with all this new attention for esports, esports betting is on the rise. Online gaming events and tournaments are able to continue without a live audience and with players safely distancing.
Not only are sports fans taking an interest in esports while they can’t get their soccer, baseball or basketball fix, but pro athletes are turning to esports.
CNBC reports that stars like the NBA’s Kevin Durant are now competing in esports tournaments. Beginning this April, the NBA, the NBA Player Association, NBA 2K2020 creator’s Take-Two Interactive and its 2K studio are partnering with ESPN to broadcast an esports tournament featuring Durant and other top NBA players. Proceeds from tournaments like this, of which there are others, are being donated to charities.
Frost & Sullivan analyst and streaming media expert Dan Rayburn told CNBC that “it is only natural that sports stars are going to use platforms to reach their fans when live games are not in place.” Rayburn believes this trend has been growing for some years. Popular traditional sports athletes were streaming video games even before.
Gaming analyst Scott Steinberg says many households have now grown up with gaming and now is the esports industry’s chance to take prime time usually focused on leagues like MLB, NFL and the NBA. He adds, “all eyes are on online gaming, and they now have a chance to shine.” Steinberg says:
“There is always going to be demand for live sporting events, but more and more, you are going to see esports become a part of that equation.”
It stands to reason this closer connection between sports and esports, and a growing fan base introduced to esports, could further fuel an interest in esports betting.
Bookmakers take notice
Esports betting platform Unikrn is seeing unprecedented surges in interest in esports and esports betting. Verizon reports that online gaming has increased 75% during peak playing times in North America. As per European Gaming, over 1.2 billion hours of content were viewed on Twitch in March. The Telegraph reports that Twitch averaged 2.1 million viewers during April.
Not only does Unikrn offer esports betting, but also streamer betting. The platform has bets available on over 150 games and 1000s of markets. Rahul Sood, co-founder and CEO of Unikrn says:
“With COVID-19 shutting all traditional options, esports has a wider reach than ever before. Each day, more people join the world’s nearly 3 billion gamers, a hobby most new adopters will keep long after COVID-19 is a memory.”
Sood’s colleague, Andrew Vouris, Unikrn COO adds, “Our yield across esports and wagering products is unprecedented and it’s only getting better.” He expects these new bettors will stay with the platform for years to come.“
One of the UK’s leading esports betting sites, Luckbox, is seeing the same trend as Unikrn, a major uptick in betting spend.
Luckbox offers betting on the big esports titles, including LoL, Dota2 and CS:GO and legal betting for 100 countries. Though physical tournaments are cancelled, online ones continue, and betting is available. Luckbox livestreams the main events.
Luckbox CEO Quentin Martin told Esports Bets that betting revenues on the platform have jumped by 50% between February and March of 2020 as lockdowns take effect. He’s realistic about the future, esports betting has a good way to go to catch up with the betting activity that takes place in traditional sports. Martin continued by stating, “the growth level won’t sustain, but the uplift will sustain.” The effects of physical distancing and staying home may well help to accelerate the permanent rise of esports and esports betting.
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