Speaking at the Gaming Developers Conference in San Francisco, NRG eSports founder Andy Miller has declared that gambling will be a big part of eSports’ future and one of the primary reasons traditional sports teams are showing an interest in the new sport.
The world is changing.
Dog owners picking up shit in plastic bags are filling the football fields as the kids sit in the comfort of their bedrooms playing and watching digital eSports.
The future is digital, and it’s one of the reasons that NBA’s Sacramento Kings owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov decided to create NRG eSports in December 2015.
And let’s be clear, this isn’t a project born out of love, like Gary Vaynerchuk’s mission to buy the New York Jets. It’s a profitable venture. And Miller and Mastrov weren’t the only ones to cotton on to that fact. Last summer, NBA & MLB stars Shaquille O’Neil, Alex Rodriguez, and Jimmy Rollins joined NRG as investors and advisors.
There are many reasons why eSports is going to be a massive money machine, and one of them is gambling.
During the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco’s Moscone Center, Miller was part of a panel asked for an opinion on the future of gambling in eSports.
According to an article that appeared in Polygon, Miller told the audience that he believed gambling was going to be ‘a big part of eSports,’ and it was the primary reason a lot of traditional sports are showing more interest in the sport.
“It’s a big opportunity,” said Miller.
Miller also pointed to the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) skin betting debacle as a barometer of things to come. The Kings owner said that although the skin betting market started ‘the wrong way’ he expected it to bounce back in a way that was ‘productive and safe.’
Splyce CEO Marty Strenczewilk, Team Dignitas CEO Jonathan Kemp and Cloud9 board member Dan Fiden joined Miller on the panel.
Miller is Prepared
And Miller is ready for the foot traffic.
The Golden 1 Center, home of the Sacramento Kings, opened in October at the cost of over $500m. Miller believes it is the ‘most technologically advanced arena in the world.’
It contains 1,000 Wi-Fi access points for 17,500 seats, and at the heart lies an 84-foot long 4K video board.
“It’s perfect for eSports,” said Miller.
Backing up Miller’s claim that there is something special within the eSports mist, SuperData Research recently released a brief for the forthcoming European eSports Conference in London, and the numbers are incredible.
Globally, the eSports market is currently worth $1.13 billion. Advertising and sponsorship account for 74% of earnings. Miller is a big believer that the big guns like Nike and Adidas have to get into this business while it’s still young.
And where do the gamblers come from?
SuperData believes that by the time we enter 2019, 330 million people will be watching eSports via one vehicle or another, rising by a further 72m in 2020. Riot’s League of Legends leads the way with a 100m active player base. Games like Rocket League are appealing to the more casual viewers, and the newest kid on the block, Overwatch, earned $767m in 2016.
5% of the $1.13 billion came through eSports betting and fantasy sports sites ($57m), more than merchandise, which dragged in $22m.