Just a few years ago, many Americans likely considered eSports to be a fad, and thought of betting as something they could only do in Las Vegas or a foreign country. But a few years can make quite the difference. All of a sudden, both activities are bigger than ever, as well as more readily available to the U.S. market. Furthermore, it’s beginning to seem almost inevitable that they’ll soon be linked together.
Where eSports are concerned, it’s almost difficult to make a clear, overarching point, because there are so many different games and organizations involved, not only in the United States but around the world. That said, there’s been a clear evolution for this pseudo-sport over the years. From the intriguing, fledgling concept it was less than a decade ago, video game streaming has gotten huge, and as more viewers have been attracted, it’s gotten more sophisticated, more competitive, and more lucrative. There are now multiple high-end streaming platforms that broadcast tournaments regularly; there are various live tournaments that sell out stadiums around the world; and there are competitive gamers worth millions. It’s not a phenomenon unique to the U.S., but eSports have grown up, and Americans have taken note.
On the betting front, meanwhile, things are at a younger – though still promising – stage of evolution. With a country-wide ban having been done away with a couple years ago, laws are being written to accommodate well-regulated betting services in one state after another. At first, with the quickest-moving states in this process primarily concentrated in the Northeast, it was unclear how widespread the betting movement would be. Before too long though, legislative efforts did begin to branch out, and sportsbooks’ availability in Indiana seemed to erase all doubts. With migration into the Midwest (Iowa adopted sports betting right around when Indiana did), it became clear that this wasn’t merely a Northeast movement. Legal betting is by no means universal just yet – but it now feels like it will be.
The final piece of the puzzle is that eSports betting is on the rise, not necessarily in the U.S. yet but more generally across the industry. As the events have grown more competitive and the streaming options have improved, audiences have begun to get more closely involved, and in some cases this has meant gambling. In particular, some of the eSports world’s most popular games – CS:GO, League Of Legends, and a few others – now give rise to betting markets on a fairly regular basis. Not every major sports betting platform lists odds for events of the kind, but enough of them do that a market has developed. In some cases, in fact, even more games are involved.
From this point, it’s easy to imagine that in another year or two, Americans too could be engaging in eSports betting on a fairly regular basis. As more states welcome betting services and the eSports industry continues to rope in new fans, it will be only natural for there to be some overlap. It should make for a fascinating new element to U.S. gaming culture.