The last few years have seen Texas, and North Texas in particular, become a hotbed of eSports action. We have the nation’s largest esports stadium in Arlington which became the home of the world renowned esports awards and we have a thriving esports community with several high schools and colleges fostering the industry’s next generation.
One thing we don’t yet have here in Texas that is fast becoming a significant part of the industry is esports betting. That could change during the next legislative session if sports betting is legalized and esports is included in the legislation. And by all accounts it should be.
Here are some key stats relating to esports betting for 2021.
Pandemic sports cancellations created an unexpected boom
The global pandemic saw many major leagues across the globe postpone or cancel games and in some cases entire seasons to prevent the spread of covid. This resulted in an unexpected spike in interest in esports. With sports fans now at a loss for games and events to watch, many turned to esports and particularly those games that were related to the sports they watched.
FIFA online tournaments saw a massive increase in viewership as soccer fans and players alike tuned in and took part in the events. Here in the US, the NBA 2K League enjoyed similar success with viewership stats going through the roof peaking at almost 50,000 viewers during games.
New markets open
The legalization of sports betting and iGaming across the United States has seen the opening of newly regulated markets. The emergence of esports as a bonafide sport has also seen lawmakers amend legislation and sports betting bills to include provisions for the industry. As a result, many casino and sports betting sites have adapted and now offer odds on major esports tournaments.
eSports betting companies growth in 2021
While it’s great to see existing sports betting companies adapt to market demand, specialist esports betting companies have enjoyed significant growth in 2021.
Take Rivalry for example. One of the biggest names in esports betting, the company became publicly listed in October 2021. The company also secured $40 million in investment funds during the year to facilitate its growth and expansion.
Another esports betting company Unikrn was acquired by gambling giant Entain in a $69 million deal. At the time of the acquisition Etain stated that it expected to generate somewhere in the region of $160 million in revenue through esports betting in the near future.
The year also saw esports betting companies monetize their data by providing odds and relevant historical information to traditional betting companies breaking into the esports betting industry. One such company was Pandascore that established an esports betting data hub and signed partnership deals with sportsbooks.
More games added to esports betting sites
2021 also saw oddsmakers offer odds on a slew of popular games opening new markets for bettors. These games included:
- Apex legends
- Wild Rift
Specialist esports betting companies may go a step further and offer odds on tournaments for more obscure and non-mainstream games, but these can be hard to find.
One of the biggest sponsorship deals of the year saw the FaZe Clan sponsored by none other than DFS and sports betting behemoth DraftKings. The deal will see the CSGO players from the team wear DraftKings sponsored gear in future tournaments.
Betway also joined the esports party by inking a deal with G2 esports. This was the latest move by the European betting company who already sponsors BLAST, Ninjas in Pyjamas (NIP), Beastcoast, and BIG.
While there are no statistics available for the industry as a whole, the public listing of Rivalry gave us a chance to take a look at detailed financial data for the year. And since Rivalry is considered a market leader, the company’s performance is a good barometer for the industry as a whole.
One thing we do know about the industry in general is that viewership or live stream watchtime tripled in 2021 when compared to 2020. This proves that the 2020 spike in interest during the lockdowns enforced by the global pandemic were no flash in the pan. According to Rivalry’s financial reports, the increase in viewership coincided with a 141% spike in betting activity during Q3 from the same period in 2020.
While we may not have complete industry stats right now, one thing we can be sure of is that esports betting is growing exponentially and will likely continue to do so in the coming years.