Operators may have missed one of the most profitable areas for the US industry – eSports – in their efforts to imitate models from established EU operators, wishing for success. The statistics below uncover that the United States is the epicenter of eSports, primarily driven by the younger generation.
With additional states opening up to online gambling, the US business is seeing increased regulatory adjustments. Many operators that have entered the US market, on the other hand, are struggling to properly meet the peculiarities of the US players.
US MARKET: ESPORTS VS. TRADITIONAL SPORTS
eSports have seen their popularity rise among sports enthusiasts in recent years, even competing with traditional sports leagues. The prize fund for eSports tournaments has already surpassed $30 million (2019 Dota International), significantly outstripping that of other major sports events such as the Tour de France, Cricket World Cup, and The Open.
The United States alone accounts for 37% of the total global revenues generated from eSports, making it the leading country for eSports revenue. Rather intriguing is that eSport continues to expand at a time when Monday Night Football (American) is down by 24% compared to the previous year (Source: Sports Illustrated, 2019). Furthermore, League of Legends alone drew over 360 million viewers in 2017, greatly outnumbering the Super Bowl audience.
ESPORTS: A HYPE DRIVEN BY THE MILLENNIALS.
According to the Washington Post, eSports is as popular among young Americans aged 14 to 21 as American football. According to Newzoo's data, 52% of eSports watchers are between the ages of 21 and 35, while 27 percent are between the ages of 10 and 20. The esports hype is also present and welcomed in the educational sector, with 78 universities throughout the United States creating eSports teams and awarding college scholarships.
This trend comes with new opportunities, allowing operators to reach out to and engage the millennials. If we take a step back and consider the big picture, eSports could be a successful entry strategy into the US market.
However, it is not as simple as it appears. There are challenges that must be overcome in order to unleash the full potential of eSports. To begin with, there are very few games to bet on, and limited In-Play betting options. Another major problem is the integrity of eSports games on which bets can be made. Currently, organizations such as the ESIC (eSports Integrity Coalition) are working hard to find a solution. Kaspersky, a cybersecurity firm, recently announced the launch of a cloud-based solution to combat eSports cheating.
CREATING CUSTOMIZED ESPORTS OPTIONS
It is important for to allocate enough means to increase awareness and organically expand their eSports offerings.
Building trust with players is not something that iGaming companies can do overnight. Surely, the experience needs to be more interactive, allowing users to view all the games on a platform in real time, with an integrated chat. Players that socialize spend more time and, eventually, more money on the site, therefore having an active social network or chat feature improves monetization.
Betting widgets that are integrated with prominent third-party platforms may seamlessly expand their audience and boost revenue. Twitch, a top-notch video games streaming site, is a very decent recommendation, with 10 million active viewers daily, feeding on content presented by over 2 million streamers. It is possible to create an extension that allows users to wager Twitch Bits instead of actual money on games they are viewing. Indeed, having cryptocurrency as a payment option is critical for success nowadays, as more than half of millennial video gamers use this payment method.
Another market with strong growth potential is Head-to-Head betting. Y Combinator, the most prominent startup accelerator, has invested in firms that allow p2p betting in eSports recently. Similar investments have also been made by rap singer Drake and other Silicon Valley investors (Mayer and Zelnick).
Companies must start establishing communities by arranging tournaments, sponsoring eSports teams, or creating one, in addition to providing a personalised and unmatched betting experience. Fans prefer to gamble with a company that sponsors tournaments and events on a regular basis. Implemented together, these procedures will allow a company to captivate and earn the trust of a lucrative audience of eSports followers.
Given the rapid expansion of eSports, unlike traditional sports which are less and less popular, it’s quite likely that eSports surpasses any other sports in popularity. ESports is bound to double in the next three years, hitting $6 billion by 2028 (fact.mr), according to a Goldman Sachs estimate. ESports accounts for 5 to 8% of the sports-betting turnover, making betting the fifth and sixth most popular sport for most iGaming companies (Parimatch, 1xBet, Favorit Sport published this data). The combination of wagering, video games, and eSports will generate an entirely new type of entertainment that has never been seen before.