Why did you decide to do the ‘Esports in the Spotlight’ study and what are the results that surprised you the most?
The reason was simple: I wanted to help everyone in the iGaming industry to have a better understanding of the Esports betting market. A lot of people have some sort of idea about Esports betting, but not a full picture: how big the market is, what are the predictions for the upcoming year, what are the needs of Esports fans, etc. So, in the end, with the whole picture in mind, I believe more betting operators will start to prioritize Esports. I also wanted to give some guidance to operators starting with Esports, so I got contributions to the report from top Esports betting brands, like STS or Parimatch. They explain why they invest in Esports betting, and how they attract new customers.
According to the report, the United States has great growth potential in terms of Esports betting. How should companies work in lobbying with regulatory bodies so that this potential evolves into reality?
They should follow the blueprint from Europe. The legislative landscape is already done here, and we know there is no need to differentiate between online betting on tennis and CS:GO. With more betting operators involved in Esports betting, you can funnel part of that money back into the ecosystem to support integrity and player development. You will have a healthy Esports landscape, and you will help to eliminate grey markets. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Esports audiences are young. How to motivate them (fans over 18 years old) to bet on the games they watch live, on Twitch or on other platforms?
Honestly, you don’t need to motivate them at all, just give them what they want. What I cover in the report is this: there are four main needs that Esports fans have, and three of them can be fulfilled by betting operators. Utilize the fact that Esports streams are available for free, and give fans a platform to watch streams, chat with other fans and have a possibility to place a bet during the match. Be transparent, and give them as much info as possible, or they will find it elsewhere.
In terms of habits and other behaviors, what main differences did you find between fans of electronic sports and those of traditional sports?
The main difference is the form of consumption and age. As I mentioned, Esports fans watch Esports matches for free on Twitch, so that is something you have to respect. They love statistics and social engagement. They love gaming. Don’t expect Esports fans and traditional sports fans to enjoy the same kind of betting platform. If you look at the main players on the betting market (Betfair, Pinnacle and others), their platforms are kind of complicated and boring. Not really something Esports fans will be interested in. That creates a huge opportunity for other operators to grab this market segment before the big players adapt to it.
Why do you think Counter Strike: Global Offensive is the number one title in terms of betting? How much attractive is for bettors?
It is definitely number one Esports right now, and the reason is the dynamic of the game. Teams are playing in rounds, so every round will change the state of the game, and that creates a lot of live betting opportunities. Currently, we see as much as 90% of bets going towards live betting. In some way, you could compare betting on CS:GO to betting on tennis. It is also quite easy to understand, compared to League of Legends or Dota 2. You can get the basic concept of CS:GO in ten minutes. Watching CS:GO is very intense and fast paced, and that transfers into betting really well. Emotions are what it is all about.
What is your consideration on Latin America as a booming market for Esports, and the possibilities of placing bets on different games in that continent?
Latin America has a huge potential for two reasons. Reason number one is their passionate fans. If you look at LatAm tournaments in CS:GO, LoL and other Esports, you have to feel the energy, the excitement, the joy. Naturally, that translates into betting. If you are passionate about a game, you want to invest in it. Betting is a really good product. Reason number two: the popularity of CS:GO in Latin America, especially in Brazil. As you mentioned before, CS:GO is the number one Esports betting title, so this creates a great opportunity for any sports betting operators.
How do you foresee the future of this segment from now on over the next 5 years?
In five years? I am confident to say that Esports will be worldwide top 3 in terms of betting volumes. The demographic shift is clear: the younger generation is already watching Esports and gaming content more than traditional sports’ one. If you move this reality to five years on down the road, this new volume will be enough to overtake some other traditional sports. And once betting operators realize this, there will be a real race to have the best Esports betting content.