US is sports betting’s “sleeping giant;” eSports betting worth $1.81b by 2020

TAGs: eilers research, eSports, gamblingcompliance, sports betting

sports-bettingAmerica’s sports betting market could be the biggest in the world if the practice was legal outside Nevada, according to new projections.

GamblingCompliance recently estimated that a fully developed US sports market – in which wagers were allowed through both land-based and digital channels – could generate annual revenue of $12.4b. That would be over five times the size of the UK’s mature sports betting market.

The projection comes as the US braces for the start of another National Football League season, and the American Gaming Association estimates that US bettors will wager around $95b on pro and college pigskin this year. Of this, only around $2b will be wagered with licensed bookies in Nevada, with the rest going to internationally licensed online sites, the back-of-the-bar bookie and office pools.

Of course, projections of how big the US market can become are meaningless so long as single-game sports betting remains illegal outside Nevada. That situation comes courtesy of the 1992 federal PASPA legislation, the demise of which New Jersey has been desperately trying to achieve for the past three years.

GamblingCompliance called the US market a “sleeping giant,” but how about the real dozing behemoth on the other side of the world? The US might be world leader for a spell, but its market would be dwarfed should China follow suit and allow its citizens to legally bet on something more inviting than the sports lottery.

True, the average American earns vastly more than the average Chinese citizen, but there are four times as many Chinese and Americans are getting poorer while Chinese are getting wealthier (or at least they were, up until about a month ago). Plus, China is batshit crazy for sports betting. Or did you think all those Chinese characters on the shirts of English Premier League footballers were there to impress Chinese ex-pats in the Midlands?

While we’re future-surfing, a new report claims eSports betting could be worth $1.81b by 2020. Eilers Research analysts Adam Krejcik (@akrejcik) and Chris Grove (@OPReport) released a report last month that attempted to quantify the current and future size of the eSports betting market and, while the numbers must be taken with a grain of salt given the industry’s fledgling status, they make for interesting reading all the same.

Eilers estimates there are currently about 595k paid active real-money fantasy eSports bettors, 1.72m paid actives at eSportsbooks and 3.2m players betting informally using in-game items. Eilers expects this to eventually grow to 19.4m bettors wagering $23.5b by 2020 (discounting the informal markets).

Eilers acknowledges that these numbers are large but insists they can be achieved via very modest penetration rates and lower per-player spending than typical figures for traditional sports betting, online poker and daily fantasy sports.

Eilers projects major UK bookmakers will all be offering eSports wagering – including in-play and other ‘exotic’ bets – by 2017 and there will be a corresponding rise in the number of dedicated eSports wagering platforms. But the eSports sector also faces a number of challenges, including potential regulatory interference and questions over game integrity that will need to be mitigated in order for Eilers’ projections to take on more tangible form.


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