SBC Digital Summit: “Semi-esports rise has blown my mind” – Sportingbet

On the first day of the inaugural SBC Digital Summit, Tyrone Dobbin – Managing Director of Sportingbet South Africa – predicted that ‘semi-esports’ such as FIFA and NBA 2k will continue to see revenue increases in the mid to long term.

Dobbin, who took part in the ‘Off the Bench- What is there to Bet on?’ panel, said: “The rise of these games have blown my mind and really surprised my team.” 

Noting that esports for betting operators has usually been all about the likes of Counter Strike (CS:GO) and Dota, or “first person shooter games”, he added: “The move to the ‘semi-esports’ like FIFA and NBA 2k has been phenomenal and that came as a big surprise.” 

However, Interwetten’s CEO Dominik Bier suggested that once live-sports resumes, punters will still revert back to traditional betting types.

He stated: “I think mid term or long term there will definitely be a bit of an increase and some of the punters will be interested in that (esports). But, if you ask me I think that it will not remain on the level of revenue as it will now.”

Whilst esports revenue has been successful in mitigating some of the revenue loss by the lack of live-sports markets, other operators turned to virtual sports betting, casino platforms and other alternatives to increase its markets and portfolio. 

MaxBet CEO Minja Bolesnikov added: “We’ve all tried to bypass this whole no-sports atmosphere with casinos. What we have seen is some sort of virtual games where there is a certain amount of skill necessary. So, short adrenaline games and games which give you the result instantly is where we have been really successful.”  

During the panel discussion Alexander Martin, CEO SKS 365, also emphasised that sportsbooks needed to adapt quickly to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Within the first two weeks of Italy’s lockdown, SKS’ sports betting turnover (GGR) for the sportsbook declined by 60 per cent due to the lack of live-sport available.

He said: “Esports was a big change in the last few weeks for us. Before COVID, esports was less than one per cent of our overall turnover. 

“In particular, FIFA and PES have seen a big change. In the past, the majority played on League of Legends (LoL) but now the majority is on typical football esports. It was below one per cent and has been increasing nicely to around three per cent.”

Interestingly though, he noted: “In actual figures, it (esports) is still less than what it was before the coronavirus. So, esports percentage wise has been growing, but due to the fact that the overall sportsbook has been declining it’s still less than what it was before.”

The panel, which provided in-depth discussions over how sports betting alternatives had impacted the industry, was sponsored by esports data supplier RTSmunity. It also featured Ebbe Groes, CEO of EveryMatrix, who moderated the panel.

SBC’s Digital Summit will run from 27 April to 1 May 2020 featuring a variety of industry expert panels, virtual networking lounges and a virtual exhibition. 

The summit has attracted an estimated 10,000 delegates from around the world to discuss some of the industry’s biggest topics, such as how sportsbooks have handled the COVID-19 outbreak. If you wish to join the event then register here.

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