When gambling and eSports collide

ESports has revolutionised the gaming industry over the past decade, with its following reaching astronomical levels across the planet. Over 150 million viewers engage in eSports worldwide and that number is constantly on the rise. The industry is currently worth approximately $700 million, while it is projected to break through the $1 billion barrier by 2019. The rapid rise in interest reflects the stunning growth of the industry, with which can become hard to control with new investors eyeing opportunity.

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One of these additions to the industry is the rise of gambling on eSports. With betting being such a prominent part of society in the current day, particularly in Asia, it was only a matter of time before the two became acquainted. Gambling is only a relatively new sector of growth for the industry, with many prominent commercial bookmakers including William Hill, Sportsbet and Luxbet embracing the concept. The leader in the market is provider Unikrn, developed in 2014 with multiple wealthy investors, including Ashton Kutcher, engaging their financial interests with the company.

*eSports in this context is referring to any game that a wager can be placed on

While the market isn’t huge at this stage, its growth is inevitable and is expected to rise rapidly within the next decade. Markets are available on a large array of games including, League of Legends, FIFA, DOTA 2, Call of Duty, StarCraft and Heroes of the Storm to name just a few.

The introduction of eSport gambling is a shift in the way people consume gaming. Instead of just viewing, consumers are able to financially invest into their interest. The viewer’s experience is significantly amplified, with emotional investment enhanced by placing a wager.

With gambling and money involved come certain negative implications on eSports. Gaming is a form of entertainment that naturally appeals to the younger generation. Due to this, many competitors within the actual betting markets will be under the legal gambling age of 18 in Australia. This provides multiple concerning issues for the industry. Firstly, young teens are being surrounding by the concept of gambling at a younger age, even if it is not direct contact. Secondly, as a result of eSport gambling being a new platform, there are initial uncertainties surrounding it in that wagering is a highly regulated industry.

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Match-fixing has already entered the industry, with one key example occurring in Korea in relation to a StarCraft 2 competition. In this incident, two of the game’s greatest players were convicted of fixing matches for financial gain. In future players are sure to be approached to fix matches, with particular concern for younger plays that may have immense pressure placed on them to do so. Basically, its a seriously hard industry to regulate and successfully monitor.

The particular area of interest that sparks my attention is the ability to exploit the fact that eSport betting is a foreign concept to the gambling industry. I will be devoting a large quantity of my attention to how punters can gain a legal advantage over betting agencies. There must be betting strategies that have not been discovered/regulated by agencies that can be exploited by people having a wager. The key to this investigation will be the LEGAL manner in which this is possible.

For my digital artifact I’m aiming to develop a project that builds awareness of how the eSport gambling concept works. As aforementioned, it is a relatively new addition to the industry, with many gamers and non-gamers having very minimal idea of what it actually involes. While I haven’t decided on an exact platform to deliver my artifact, it is likely to involve a real time video of me gambling on a live-streamed eSport.

Gambling on eSport has changed the way people consume games. It is a foreign concept to the industry with plenty to be explored before it inevitably becomes a major aspect of gaming. I intend to shed light on the nature of betting on gaming, how it will develop over time and how it can be exploited in its early stages of existence.

References:

Platt, G, 2015. “eMatch-Fixing: Why Poverty and Chaos is Driving Pro-Gamers to Risk Everything,” Vice, internet article, viewed 23/03/17. https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/ematch-fixing-why-poverty-and-chaos-is-driving-pro-gamers-to-risk-everything-105  

Porter, M, 2015. “Odds are eSports are here to stay,” Vice, internet article, viewed 23/03/17. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/its-odds-on-that-esports-betting-is-here-to-stay-420 

Zacny, R, 2016. “Match-fixing report shows how gambling has ruined Korean StarCraft,” internet article, viewed 23/03/17. https://www.kotaku.com.au/2016/04/match-fixing-report-shows-how-gambling-has-ruined-korean-starcraft/

Kresse, C, 2016. “Unikrn CEO Rahul Sood: “You cannot be relevant in eSports by simply dropping numbers in a sportsbook,” blog, viewed 23/03/17. http://esports-marketing-blog.com/unikrn-interview/#.WNNJbmR94y4

 

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