eSports bookies expecting real growth

eSports bookies expecting real growth

Friday, May 22, 2015 Totally Gaming
League of Legends is a major focus of eSports betting

With an estimated global audience of anywhere between 150-250 million it's no surprise that eSports is beginning to move from the bedrooms of geeks across the world to the priority list of major betting companies.

This week, it was announced that dedicated eSports betting operator Unikrn, headed by former Microsoft executive Rahul Sood, was launching in the UK, while today (Friday), a site backed by boxing star Manny Pacquiao, has gone live.

Vulcun and AlphaDraft are two other fledgling companies also looking to build a business based on people’s interests in video games such as League of Legends, with the former’s founder Ali Moiz estimating the eSports betting market could become a $250m (€224.9m) industry by 2020.

Unikrn already operates in Australia and parts of Asia, and its profile was raised earlier this year when it signed a global partnership deal with betting giant Tabcorp.

Now Unikrn is offering markets to UK customers, and will hope to tap into a youth market that is hard to penetrate.

“The UK is one of the most sophisticated sports betting markets in the world and there has been tremendous demand for safe wagering on eSports from consumers in that part of the world," Sood said.

“The average amount placed on bets has increased by 350 per cent since we started, and we only see it growing.

“Obviously there is a learning curve associated with betting on eSports, but as you’ll see with our future products we’ll be able to address this and make it accessible to anyone in a legal jurisdiction to participate.”

Unikrn, which has raised over $5m (£3.2m) from investors, said Tabcorp will help it “control the geographical areas where wagering is offered and will also handle all account identification processes”.

The eSports specialists may be advised to enjoy what is currently an open market, with giants such as William Hill and Paddy Power having already offered markets on some events. Ladbrokes, meanwhile, told that it considers eSports a growth sector of the future. 

A spokesman said: “Interest is growing and it's definitely something on our radar as we continually look to keep our portfolio of betting events up to date to reflect changes in tastes.”

While established bookmakers have dipped their toes into the eSports sector, Vitalbet is conversely choosing to launch with markets on all top-tier eSports events, but plans to roll out a full online sportsbook in the future.

VitalBet’s David Blatt added: “We are both online and on your mobile device with a unique and beautiful mobile betting interface.”

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