"This is the future of sports, and we have to focus on that so we don't get left behind," says Sky Betting exec
The increasing focus on eSports by two major online sports betting companies – Danske Spil and Sky Betting – was the subject of media reports on Bloomberg this week, with Sky Betting's Adam Smith going so far as to predict: "This is the future of sports, and we have to focus on that so we don't get left behind."
The reports note that most regulated sports books outside the United States have started to offer betting on eSports events, and that the recent and questionable 'skin-betting' scandals in the young industry are likely to encourage more regulation… and drive eSports punters to established and well-regulated operators.
The independent industry monitor and analysts Eilers & Krejcik Gaming and Narus Advisors have predicted that the currently unregulated eSports market will top $7.4 billion this year. That's a factor of twelve times larger than current eSports betting at regulated sports books, giving some idea of the potential that this vertical represents.
However, observers warn that not all of that betting bonanza will migrate – only an estimated $2.2 billion will find its way to more traditional betting channels, because much of the $7.4 billion comes from underage punters wagering in skins.
Sky Betting's Smith revealed that the company was devoting more marketing budget to the eSports vertical in order to reach the relatively young male demographic that makes up much of the market.
He pointed out that these were mostly young men who don't consume sports in the traditional manner, and prefer online and mobile delivery, with a penchant for live betting action.
Operators are offering more betting options per e-sports match, including live betting, in order to attract a distinct demographic, Smith commented:
"So far our e-sports user base has grown organically. We're looking to change that now," he said.
Danske Spil's dedicated eSports manager Kasper Nemeth revealed that his company has redesigned its eSports book, creating a presentation more in line with what video gamers are used to.
Additions include embedded broadcasts with e-sports analysis, a chat function and team rankings, all alongside the odds on offer.
Referring to eSports punters, Nemeth observed:
"We can't approach them the same as our normal bettors, because eSports bettors are a group by themselves. Instead of trying to make them traditional sports bettors, we're giving them their own playground."
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