Lee Davy continues his birds eye view of the panel activity at the recent eSports Betting Summit held at The Royal Garden Hotel in London, this time, covering the intersection of eSports and traditional sports betting.
In sportsbook parlance, think of football and horse racing as ginger cats curled up on their favourite cushion, and eSports as a Tiger, who has just waltzed into the gaff looking for somewhere to get its head down.
We are witnessing history in the making. New sports with a following large enough to create over a billion in revenues per annum don’t often materialise like a genie from a bottle.
Punters have a new sport to bet on. The sportsbooks have a framework. How do the two connect in the best way possible to ensure the customer leaves happy, and the hosts earn a lorry load of cash?
Moderator Alex Igelman, MD, Gaming Research Partners, posed that question, and many others to the following panel:
• Adam Savinson, eSports Manager, Win Technologies (Betway Group)
• James Watson, eSports Product Owner, SportRadar
• Paul Barclay, General Manager, Betcade
And, this is what they had to say.
The moderator began proceedings by asking the panel their thoughts on the differences between traditional sports betting and eSports.
PB was of the opinion that the eSports player is a very different beast to the ordinary sports betting punter. He said that sports books are locked in a race to see who can deliver the best eSports betting product.
AS believed that the normal markets in traditional sports betting were transferable to eSports. JW thought education on the eSports product was vital both internally for operators, and externally for customers.
What is the Demographic of an eSports Punter?
AI asked the panel about the demographic of an eSports punter.
AS told the audience that the typical eSports consumer was between 18-30. And that males dominated the market. He also talked about the need for the eSports player to learn to trust sports betting companies because of the use of the credit card, something that isn’t a problem with eSports skin betting websites. He continued to impress just how important it was for the sports books to build trust with their new eSports customers.
JW talked about the high-tech generation that follows eSports and even questioned the viability of betting on greyhounds, horses and football in a decade from now.
Can Traditional Sportsbooks Simply Add an ‘eSports’ Tab?
AI wanted to know if traditional sportsbooks could simply add an ‘eSports’ tab, or whether they had to create an entirely new interface?
AS said that it depended on the goals of the sportsbook operator. Betway launched a dedicated eSports site, and it works well. He talked about the need for the eSports consumer to want validation and to be accepted as a bona fide sport.
JW talked about the importance of drilling down into specific games and how different the market could be in each, reminding everyone that we don’t see a section for ‘Ball Sports’ in a sportsbook instead seeing ‘Tennis’, ‘Cricket’, and ‘Baseball’ as separate entities. He believes for example that the Counter-Strike market is very different to League of Legends.
PB talked about the importance of using analytics to understand customer behaviour and then to move forward accordingly dependent on that information.
What About Crossover Potential?
JW reminded people that trying to teach the stereotypical sports bettor how to bet on DOTA 2 would be a nightmare and that it would be easier to cross the eSports consumers over to traditional sports than the other way around. The panel were all in unison on this point of view.
How Can Bookmakers Reach Punters?
AS said the research was critical. Bookmakers needed to understand eSports consumers and their behaviours. Communication is key. Don’t take things for granted. Learn and then act on that learning.
JW reminded the audience that eSports consumers are ruthless. Basically, of they don’t like you then you are doomed. Sports books need to get it right. There are no second chances.
Has Their Been Resistance to Betting From The eSports Community?
AS didn’t see this as being a problem because of the growth and popularity of skin betting. The eSports industry sees skin betting as integral to the growth of Counter Strike. Most of the eSports community believes all gambling is skin betting. That’s how big the unregulated market has become.
What Types of Betting Could we See in eSports?
AS talked about the potential of having mixed accumulators with a Premier League match combined as a parlay with a League of Legends match in the future.
JW talked about the prevalence of pre-match eSports betting markets but still no movement on the in-play markets because of the complexities of the games.
AS reminded everyone that this was the evolution of traditional sports betting with pre-match betting existing way before in-play markets dominated.
“These days it’s all instant gratification on the go.” Said AS before confirming that in-play markets is where the real challenge is at for eSports because this is what the consumer wants.
AS also spoke about the move to mobile for traditional sports betting and not eSports. eSports consumers are used to watching eSports on Twitch on one screen while using the second screen to bet rather than the mobile method.
JW talked about the need to move to a one-screen approach where the odds and markets are on the same screen as the live action.
What will the eSports betting handle be like in five years?
AS stated that it has the potential to be huge for bookmakers if they market it correctly.
The panel believed that eSports could be amongst the Top 5 sports concerning popularity with punters. Although JW threw in the caveat:
“If you don’t pitch it right it could be worse than lawn bowls.”
• The eSports punter and traditional sports betting punter are two very different beasts.
• The way they consume their sports is very different.
• Understanding the eSports consumer is vital when considering an eSports product.
• Trust is critical.
• It’s easier to teach an eSports consumer to bet on traditional sports than the other way around.
• The eSports industry embraces betting.
• Education is crucial with most eSports consumers believing skin betting is the only form of betting within the sport.
• In-Play is the future for eSports but complex at the moment because of the sheer number of different markets available and figuring out systems to capture and control that information in real time.