The global health crisis has had an undeniable impact on how the gambling and betting industry will evolve in the years ahead. With the closure of sporting venues and land-based casinos, there is a large portion of the gambling market that needed an outlet.
Industry experts are pointing to the increased interest and high-value competitions of the esports industry as a potential growth point – for both bookmakers and casinos.
Will Online Casino Players Care?
Interestingly enough there is a precedent for betting style gaming to be popular at online casinos. In recent times there has been a marked interest in virtual sports games.
Playtech is one such provider that offers the following titles in their online casinos:
- Virtual Racing – simulated horse racing event voiced by Sir Peter O’Sullevan.
- Virtual Greyhound racing – a high-end, fully motion-captured, greyhound game.
- Virtual Football – bet your choice of 20 teams, each modelled after the English Premier League.
- Virtual Tennis – bet on 16 unique players and see them celebrate their victories or mourn their losses.
- Virtual Basketball – experience on-court action, pro plays and half-times displays in this motion captured game.
- Virtual Cycle Racing – watch high action cycling commentated by a professional Keirin cyclist.
- Virtual Speedway – place your bets as virtual racers glide and slide their way around a digital speedway.
These games, once used by bookmakers as fillers between live events, are now found in many online casinos. With the growing need for games to bet on, they have also seen increased interest in the betting market as a way to entertain their customers as they await the reopening of sporting venues and the starts of new seasons.
The Rising Tide of Esports
With gamblers willing to wager on a virtual football match at their favourite online casino the idea of placing a wager at a betting site on the outcome of a game of Fifa, played online by esports contestants, has become a more accepted idea.
This is clearly evident in the success of Fifa eSoccer betting at Unibet, with Filip Kristersson the Unibet esports product manager stating that they expect eSoccer to “continue to grow and become increasingly important to sportsbooks”.
Not only that but many of the gamblers who are now of the core demographic grew up playing these games socially and, in some cases, still follow them today on streaming channels like Twitch.
Speaking of esports interest, Stanislav Mykhailov of BetInvest said:
“We now provide over 30,000 live events across 22 esports with new disciplines and betting markets being added constantly.”
This can only continue to grow and expand given that according to BusinessInsider the esports industry has shown a consistent year over year growth of 9%. With analysts projecting that it will have accrued a viewership of more than 645 million by 2023.
As online casino punters and sports bettors continue to blur traditional dividing lines it is only a matter of time till we see non-sports-themed games like Valorant, Warzone, Rainbow 6 and others become a normal part of the online gambling conversation.