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ESI: Gambling & esports – What’s the millennial opportunity?

SBC News ESI: Gambling & esports - What’s the millennial opportunity?
Oliver Ring

It’s safe to say that “recapturing millennials” has been a buzzword thrown around the gambling industry for a considerable while. Are young punters drawn to greyhounds and racing in the same way as previous generations? When they’re looking to have a bet, what are they looking for?

The esports opportunity is still arguably in its infancy. It’s vitally important to remember that the burgeoning industry is still very young, and as with everything, takes time to settle and prosper. There’s been no shortage of enthusiasm from the game developer side, with new titles emerging left, right and centre as they seek the coveted esports recognition. In a game developer’s case, competition breeds longevity and ensures that players won’t flock to another title as soon as they’re even slightly bored.

There’s always talk and mention that the demographic is in fact too young to have esports propelled to the front of operators minds. Data company Newzoo outlines in its 2017 Global Esports Market Report that in fact, only 27% of esports enthusiasts are between the age of 10 and 20.

For those operating in industries where gambling law dictates an age of 18 for legal betting, there’s likely a chunk of that 27% that sit in the 18-20 bracket. Newzoo outline that the bulk of the demographic, 52% sit between the ages of 21 and 35; the coveted millennial bracket. Superdata, an alternative research company outline that 46% of esports viewers sit between 18-24, with a total of 85% above the age of 18.

But these bedroom dwelling gamers have no disposable income, so who cares? Wrong again. Newzoo’s studies suggest that 62% of esports enthusiasts hold a full time job, and 50% of them are in the high income bracket; showing a significantly higher percentage than the general online population. The way in which esports is consumed lends itself to gambling. With dual screen setups pretty much the norm, to have a stream on one screen and a bookmaker’s page on another is not a crazy prospect.

This is reflected in skin betting and the huge illegal, unregulated bubble that continues to exist; although it has been scaled back ever so slightly. Narus’ ‘Esports Betting Report, Skins In The Game v2’ outlined that the industry was estimated at around $7.4 billion in 2016. It takes CS:GO Lounge, the biggest skin wagering site as an example. Before Valve’s shut them down with a Cease & Desist order, CS:GO Lounge took 103,000,000 skins across 2,800 matches between January and July in 2016. It was a handle approaching $1 billion. There were 18,300,000 skins staked across just four Counter-Strike tournaments, and 321,155 skins were staked alone on a match between Team Liquid and SK Gaming. The average real world value per item staked was $9.75.

Narus Advisors and Eilers & Krejcik Gaming have estimated that global esports cash gambling handle will grow from $649 million in 2016, to $12 billion in 2020. Therein lies the opportunity. Bookmakers such as Pinnacle have already taken over 5,000,000 esports wagers. Betway has seen the opportunity and entered various sponsorship opportunities across the space as well as curating a second portal. Dedicated esports bookmakers such as Unikrn and GG.Bet have emerged across the space.

There are, of course, countless challenges that the industry still faces. The data problem and inplay conundrum rages on, with suppliers battling to ensure that their curated product provides a return and is not just a sheer money sink. Margins have been creeping up and there’s very few bookmakers who don’t at least feature an esports book now.

But how can gambling industry stakeholders best unlock this clear opportunity? It’s what we will be discussing in general at an event next week and in greater detail at a conference next month.

Esports Insider, part of SBC Global, is running the second Esports Insider Forum in association with event partner Digital Fuel on Thursday 31st August. The relaxed networking event will have one panel featuring:

  • James Watson, Head of Esports, Sportradar;
  • Suraj Gosai, CEO Blinkpool;
  • Toby Oddy, CEO, Digital Fuel;
  • Peter Ivanov, Head of Esports Trading, Ultraplay.

Ian Smith, Commissioner, ESIC will moderate. The panel will touch upon where they believe the true potential lies for industry stakeholders. Once the panel is done and dusted, there’ll be the opportunity for attendees to showcase their ability on Tekken whilst enjoying pizza & drinks. Amazing charity Special Effect will also be in attendance showcasing the phenomenal work they do. The remaining tickets can be purchased here.

It’s impossible to cover the vast array of topics at the intersection of esports and betting in one panel. At Betting on Sports, 2017, Esports Insider will run a dedicated esports track featuring six carefully crafted panels with key industry stakeholders covering topics from data issues, brand differentiation all the way through to the opportunity for Vegas. Taking place between 13th-15th September at Olympia, Kensington, tickets for the two day conference are still available here.

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