The world of competitive video gaming, known as eSports, has exploded in popularity and profitability over the past decade. Today, it’s not a rare thing to see a bunch of eSports events on betting sites like BetCity, and others. What started as a niche hobby has transformed into a full-fledged industry with million-dollar prize pools, sold-out stadium events, and viewership numbers that rival traditional sports.
This meteoric rise has opened up a fast-growing new vertical for the betting industry: eSports wagering. Interest in backing elite gamers and teams with real money is accelerating exponentially, ushering betting into an entirely new era centered around competitive digital gaming.
The Growth Trajectory Says It All
As an industry analyst studying trends across global gaming and sports betting for over 18 years, the numbers speak for themselves. Total eSports betting handle jumped from $8.3 billion in 2020 to over $20.7 billion in 2022. By 2027, some estimates peg the total handle reaching up to $75 billion globally.
And it’s not just betting handles reaching new heights. Audiences, prize pools, and sponsorships deals are all seeing unprecedented growth:
- Viewership of top eSports events now surpasses the NBA Finals, World Series, and other major physical sporting events, with over 474 million people tuning in to watch elite gaming tournaments.
- Total prize money doubled from 2020 to 2022, reaching $173.8 million. The 2023 pool is set to top $205 million.
- Blue-chip sponsors like Red Bull, Nike, Mastercard, and Louis Vuitton are paying tens of millions for partnerships and sponsorship deals with top teams and leagues.
The writing is clearly on the wall: eSports betting is following the explosive growth trajectory of competitive gaming itself, moving steadily into the mainstream of the global sports betting landscape over the next 3–5 years.
What’s Fueling the Rise of eSports Betting?
While the sheer spectatorship and money connected to competitive gaming is propelling wagering volume, there are deeper factors at play driving eSports as an attractive new avenue for bettors:
- Enhanced engagement and interactivity: Viewers are highly engaged fans, interacting with events on streaming chats and social media from start to finish. There’s also ample downtime to research bets and place wagers between matches.
- Informed wagering dynamics: Performance statistics are widely available on teams and players, informing odds and helping bettors make sharp wagers. Top athletes also stream daily, giving fans added insight.
- Sheer volume of events: Hundreds of tournaments run annually with matches daily, far exceeding the scheduling of traditional sports leagues. More events equals more wagering opportunities.
- Rapid shifts in competition: There’s significant volatility week-to-week as players change roles or squads integrate substitutes. Odds and lines see movement similar to fast-paced sports like MMA and boxing.
- Widespread legalization: Countries are passing regulations to open and expand legal eSports betting, just as they have done for sports wagering over the past 5 years. 85% of the market is projected to be legal by 2025.
Together, these factors create an immersive, high-information, ever-changing betting landscape centered around a thriving digital sport poised for mainstream crossover success. This unique appeal and tailored fit is precisely what’s luring bettors and fueling explosive growth.
Key Market Trends in Competitive Gaming Betting
While wagering volume and interest continue trending upward across popular eSport titles like League of Legends, CS:GO, Call of Duty, and Dota 2, there are also several distinct trends shaping gambling behavior and technology in this space:
Rise of mobile functionality. 73% of eSports bettors use mobile devices as their primary method of wagering, whether betting markets tied to streaming platforms, web apps from sportsbooks, or downloadable apps.
Focus has shifted to convenient, seamless mobile experiences around watching and wagering. Complexity is out, simplicity is in. This influences betting operators to offer stripped-down experiences with intuitive flows optimized for smaller touchscreen interfaces.
Emergence of in-game or in-stream betting
To align with viewing habits, nearly all major operators now offer bet slips and updated odds overlays synchronized directly to live streams. This creates a more seamless flow between watching and wagering.
Some publishers now integrate mini betting games or prediction contests directly into broadcasts for added engagement. As gambling regulation advances, true in-game betting will emerge to allow seamless real-money gambling from the live stream interface.
Shift towards betting exchanges
The growing popularity of exchange betting in eSports marks a shift for bettors to wager against one another rather than traditional fixed odds. Offering better margins and more control over setting lines, exchanges are projected to make up 18% of the total market by 2025.
Key Growth Metrics – eSports Betting Industry
|Total Prize Money
|522 million (projected)
|$205 million (projected)
|595 million (projected)
|$297 million (projected)
|782 million (projected)
|$494 million (projected)
The Future of eSports Betting
While already posting staggering numbers, competitive aviator betting game and connected wagering verticals are truly still just scratching the surface. Conservative projections put the total handle reaching $75 billion globally by 2027. However, if current exponential growth persists, we could realistically see over $200 billion traded on eSports by the end of the decade.
As broadcast technology advances, betting regulation expands across high-population regions like Asia and South America, and mobile experiences become further embedded for streamlined wagering, expect eSports betting to increase its current 2.5% share of the global sports betting market closer to 15-20% by 2030.
Competitive gaming has already solidified itself as a major spectator sport and betting category just over a decade since the industry formed. The only question that remains now—will eSports become the most bet on sport internationally over the next 10 years as games eclipse physical competitions? As an industry analyst, all signs currently point to yes.
The meteoric rise and crossover appeal of eSports has ushered sports betting into an entirely new era centered around competitive digital gaming. With monumental growth projected over the next five years, it’s safe to say this new frontier of wagering will play a leading role in shaping the future of the global gambling industry.