Everyone could use a little more entertainment in their lives right now as the pandemic drags on and on across the globe. Yes, we have a few potential cures and vaccines in sight, but it might be months or even a year before they get out to everyone who needs one, which is pretty much all of us. In the meantime, it should come as no surprise that socially distanced people are going online to pass the time and maintain personal connections during their various COVID-19 lockdowns. This has been generating a dramatic surge in activity over the past few months for gaming networks and just about all other online platforms. Even individual games with heavy online components, or ones that exist totally online, are booming in popularity.
And of course, traditional online pastimes like gambling have also seen a huge boon. The problem for many online betting sites, and the players who frequent them, is that live sports are rather limited right now. We have some sports trying to make a go at it, but most of those endeavors are limited, with events cancelled as soon as athletes, coaches or the team’s support staff gets exposed to the virus.
The one big exception to this is eSports. While some eSports events were being held in stadiums before the pandemic, it’s actually very easy for eSports athletes to socially distance while they play. They don’t even really need to be in the same room, or even within miles of one another. As such, those events have done nothing but increase in popularity during the pandemic.
The number of tournaments has grown and the amount of prize money has also steadily increased to the point where eSports athletes can sometimes make as much money as professional athletes participating in traditional sports.
In fact, over 460 million U.S. dollars was awarded to the top five highest earning esports players and teams this year. Tournaments can support prizes like that because it’s estimated that over 250 million people watch eSports today. And those numbers keep growing. By 2023, the global eSports industry is forecast to be worth almost $1.6 billion, up from $776 million in 2018. That means that eSports popularity, and the money involved with it, will double over that five-year period. More fans, players and sponsors are sure to follow.
Those kinds of numbers are hard to ignore for most established, professional gambling sites. Even sites that were reluctant to embrace eSports over traditional venues just a few months ago are coming onboard in a hurry. In fact, it’s becoming a highly competitive part of the gambling industry overall. Smart players are taking advantage of this newly competitive spirit, reaping a large welcome bonus at some of the most established and reliable gambling sites.
Even though the pandemic will one day hopefully come to an end, there is every reason to believe that eSports and eSports betting will continue. In a lot of ways, eSports betting is both easier and less prone to disruption than live events. Esports exists only in a digital sense, so players can’t be injured and tournaments won’t normally get cancelled due to something like bad weather. That makes for a more stable environment for both gamblers and the sites that serve them. The only thing that was holding back eSports betting was the lack of exposure to it compared with normal sports. But now the genie is out of the bottle, and the future looks very bright for both eSports and eSports gambling.