SBC News PandaScore: Operators can fill the growth gap for Australian esports

PandaScore: Operators can fill the growth gap for Australian esports

SBC News PandaScore: Operators can fill the growth gap for Australian esports
Oliver Niner – PandaScore

Oliver Niner, Head of Sales at esports data solutions provider PandaScore identifies the clear and present opportunity for betting operators to serve Australia’s growing esports community…

The Australian market is considered one of the most desirable for sportsbooks to operate in. With a mature betting culture across a wide range of sports, horses and greyhounds as well as a strong regulatory presence, Australia has proven to be a stable, profitable market for both local and international brands.

In the broader global context, the Australian esports scene is relatively small but makes up for its size with a highly passionate and interconnected scene. Across most esports titles, Australian fans will rally around their countrymen whenever they step onto the world stage and embrace the underdog status that’s often bestowed upon them.

The size and scale of the betting industry in Australia puts it in the position to support an Australian esports scene that has all the right parts to flourish, it just needs sustainable long-term investment.

Nuances to the Australian market

When we talk about the maturity of the Australian market – particularly online – it’s roughly 1 in 3 adults engaging with some form of online gambling. Combined with a per capita gambling expenditure of roughly $1,277, the island nation has proven to be a lucrative market for operators.

Sports betting in particular has become closely entwined with many of the major sporting codes, be it regional focuses such as Aussie Rules and Rugby League through to your more international sports of football and basketball. In a country with high mobile penetration, sports betting online, usually through a smartphone app is widespread – roughly 86% of all sports betting happens online in Australia.

While sports betting, particularly in Europe finds that live betting is the greater source of revenue, a key caveat to the Australian market is how live betting operates. The only way to legally place a bet during a live sports match in Australia is to call up the sportsbook and place the bet over the phone – an outlier compared to many other mature markets in the world.

Considering most sports betting is done online, operators need to have a robust, highly engaging prematch offering with quality odds, enhanced by additional player engagement tools like betbuilders. Betbuilders, or ‘multis’ as they’re often called down under, are a popular item for bettors in Australia. There’s plenty of organic, viral marketing coming from punters placing wacky, almost storybook-length multis that even draw headlines in major news outlets.

The Australian esports bettor

Being sports-adjacent, esports benefits from much of the same betting culture and behaviours in the Australian market. A 2021 report from Gambling Research Australia carved out a picture of what the esports bettor looks like in the country.

They’re generally in the 18-34 demographic, with a higher education qualification and higher than the average income – as well as having higher proportions of women and people from Asian backgrounds when compared to sports betting.

When they do bet on esports, 96% of it is done online, with more than half of all bets placed via a smartphone app and it’s most often through big operators such as Bet365, Sportsbet and Ladbrokes. Based on our client feedback, the 5 most popular titles for players are CSGO, League of Legends, Dota 2, Valorant, and Rainbow Six: Siege.

From a product perspective, operators should take note of the prevalence of smartphone apps in traditional sports betting, and provide a smooth, engaging mobile experience if they want to acquire and keep esports customers.

Operators can grow with the market

The Australian esports scene has found it challenging to build the consistency and healthier revenue streams that you see in other markets – which has led to many high highs and low lows.

With a mature betting culture already in place and a passionate fan base that still needs more sustainable infrastructure, operators and suppliers have an opportunity to support the growth of the Australian esports sector.

There are similarities here to the Brazilian market: meeting the Australian esports community on their terms – investing in the teams, tournaments and community building that already exists – is essential for operators looking to establish their position.

We’ve seen this already, with investment into Australian infrastructure coming from Rivalry following the acquisition of their Australian license. Their market entry has seen them go all in on local CS:GO events including the Clash of Rivals series, Insanely Awesome CS:GO Tournament and the institution that is Brisvegas LAN. And it’s more than slapping your logo on the tournament, there’s content marketing, plugging into the social channels of local teams and enhancing fan experiences along the way.

In markets across the globe, we’ve seen that to find success with your esports betting vertical, you need to inhabit the communities and spaces where fans live and give them a high-quality betting experience that enhances how they engage with their favourite games.

The Australian esports scene is seeking long-term investment so it can build the infrastructure it needs to be self-sustaining. Operators are presented with the unique opportunity to collaborate, invest and share in the growth of a sector with tremendous upside – the opportunity to build Australian esports hand-in-hand with the community.

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