BUSINESS

The eSports Betting Summit: The In-Play Opportunity, Skin Betting & Investing in Integrity

TAGs: eSports

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 in-play opportunities, skin betting & investing in integrity.

In October 2015, Sky Betting & Gaming made eSports betting markets available to punters on their traditional sports betting platform. They partnered with BetGenius, and in the following panel, representatives of both organisations talked about lessons learned in the past year, in particular, surrounding in-play opportunities and integrity.

The panelists were:

• Moritz Maurer, Head of eSports, Betgenius

• Ben Conroy, eSports Product Manager, Sky Betting & Gaming

*There was a last minute change to the agenda and a young lady joined the panel but I didn’t catch her name,

MM opened up the dialogue by stating the importance of an in-play product for eSports consumers referring to the vastness of in-play opportunities in games like League of Legends and Dota 2.

BC told the audience that Sky Betting & Gaming is already offering in-play markets for eSports. He spoke about the value of gambling opportunities that ‘happen quickly.’

“We believe it’s core to our business. It’s the only way to have an eSports product.” Said BC.

How Much eSports Knowledge Does a Betting Company Need to Have Getting Started?

BC talked about the difficulties starting out without an explicit understanding of eSports and how their relationship with BetGenius was critical for understanding in this area. He also spoke about their strengths in profiling customers and how they work with BetGenius to share data to come up with the right products.

The eSports Betting Summit: The In-Play Opportunity, Skin Betting & Investing in IntegrityMM agreed that profiling and doing the research was critical.

How Much do Professional eSports Players Know About The Betting Industry?

BC talked about the differences between professional eSports athletes and other professional sportsmen and their links to betting regulation. While the rules are clear that professional footballers in the UK can’t bet on football, the same regulations haven’t been created within eSports yet. The requisite governing bodies don’t exist like the Football Association (FA) for example.

A lady on the panel talked about the age of the average eSports athlete. They are very young, and for the vast majority of them, this will be the first contract of any kind they have had thrust underneath their chins. Their awareness of doping, illegal gambling, will be limited.

MM agreed and said that there was a need for a shared code of conduct covering these issues in eSports.

BC expanded upon that need even further by stating the importance of drilling regulation down to individual games and not leaving it ruled by one umbrella organisation because each game has a very particular set of dynamics.

The panel discussed the World eSports Association (WEA) as a potential solution. The lady on the panel noted that the WEA had a very European feel to it, and that would have to change moving forward.

BC talked about the profitability of the in-play markets versus the complications of creating the product. In particular, the problem of ever changing game patches presented numerous challenges to Sky Betting & Gaming. BC compared the ‘patch’ problem with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) changing their rules on a weekly basis.

The moderator asked BC if they had separated their eSports product from their traditional sportsbook and he replied that they hadn’t followed that approach and merging the two has worked well for them thus far.

MM also chimed in on the ‘patch’ problem stating the changes created brand new meta-game dynamics, and this created a lot of work to recalibrate their models.

Skin Betting and the UKGC

There was a short discussion on skin betting. BC said it’s an interesting opportunity but one they can’t touch until it’s regulated and the underage issue resolved.

The lady on the panel said there was a need for further data on the problems involved with skin betting. Without the requisite research bodies, traditional sports books will not take the risk on skin betting. She then went on to say that the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has already approached one skin betting site with a cease and desist type warning.

“It {the problem} could get cleaned up sooner than we think.” Said the lady.

BC talked about the license application process and was very complimentary towards the UKGC saying that although the process was very drawn out, they did a great job in understanding eSports and eventually treated the process like they would a traditional sport.

How Big is eSports Betting?

BC said that eSports is a Top 10 product and has the ability to be one of the most major – football and horse racing notwithstanding. The eSports in-play markets have already overtaken sports such as volleyball and ice hockey. Sky’s eSports betting market is only available to customers in the UK & Ireland because it’s simpler from a compliance point of view.

BC also said they are worried about integrity issues but no more so than with traditional sports betting. He talked about the problems that exist in tennis competitions where the prize money is small enough to create a dynamic whereby players may cheat to earn extra money. He then compared that with the Dota 2 International event and talked about the methodology of sticking with the eSports tournaments that offer bigger prize pools.

MM concurred stating that they only deal with eSports betting markets in the biggest tournaments. There was a view that betting on eSports events with small prize pools shouldn’t be allowed.

BC talked about the need for self-regulation to come first.

“We need to get ahead of the curve.” Said BC.

Q&A

What is the best product?

BC said that League of Legends (LOL) was the best product because Riot packages the coverage as a traditional sport with highlights and commentary mirroring their cousins. It crosses over with American Football audiences very well.

Live stream problems?

The lady on the panel talked about the need for companies to close the time lapse gap between LAN events and live stream broadcasts.

BC reminded everyone that this was also a problem with in-play betting in traditional sports.

MM said that it was tough to assess current game states in eSports events.

Cross selling or the standalone product?

BC said their model was based on cross-selling. The addition of eSports markets was required because of customer demand.

“People like to bet on eSports. These guys are fans of sport.” Said BC.

He also talked about the creation of specific mailing lists to target particular groups of fans with their marketing, mentioning that they are very different customers. He said they were very confident of acquiring eSports consumers and cross-selling them on traditional sportsbook offerings.

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