eSports has evolved into a major potential market for bookmakers, but unless stakeholders come together to ensure the integrity of contests, they may find regulation foisted upon them.
eSports has captured the attention of bookmakers, with the sector growing from a niche interest to an industry worth an estimated €463m (excluding betting), up 43 per cent year-on-year according to Newzoo.
UK broadcasters Sky and ITV have partnered Ginx TV to launch a dedicated eSports channel. Almost all major betting operators offer odds on eSports contests. William Hill has awarded £150,000 to start-up BetGame to develop a new eSports product. Some, such as Betway, have even launched dedicated eSports microsites.
Yet as with daily fantasy sports, this new sector faces a major challenge in the form of regulation. The betting markets feeding off the sport’s growth are expanding rapidly, but could soon become a target for legislators. In France, the government has already proposed legal protections for eSports competitors, with ARJEL to regulate betting on contests.
The UK Gambling Commission has also pledged to do more to examine eSports and the issues its presents for regulation and player protection.