How eSports will help bookmakers survive the crisis

29 April 2020
Reading: 3 min

How eSports will help bookmakers survive the crisis

Numerous football, basketball, and hockey championships have been canceled over the coronavirus pandemic. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are likely to suffer the same fate. Sports fans’ enthusiasm is fading with each passing day, and betting platforms are losing money.

It would seem that a severe crisis has just broken out and that no bets are being placed anymore. Fortunately, the situation is not as grave as it seemed two months ago. Today, we are going to discuss eSports betting and find out how this market is evolving nowadays. 

A short background 

The first bets were placed on cyber football in the 2000s and have only grown in popularity ever since. It all started with the FIFA tournaments, which were rather spontaneous and lacked any meaningful organization. It was only later that the tournaments were held under the auspices of EA Sports, a football simulator developer. Football matches took place on a variety of platforms.  

People enjoyed placing bets on cyber football matches for the following reasons: 

  • matches lasted for about 10 minutes, 
  • the outcome was difficult to predict, 
  • the end score was not affected by the weather factor, 
  • there was no possibility of judicial error, injuries to players, etc. 

Counter-Strike 1.6 and Warcraft III tournaments were quick to follow suit. Since then, eSports have grown into a full industry in its own right. Newzoo predicts that by 2020 the market’s annual growth rate will hit an impressive number of about 14%. 

eSports betting is also rising in popularity following this upward trend. One of the most popular tournaments are CS:GO (37%) and DOTA 2 (30%).  

eSports today 

If you think that we are going to talk about Dota and Counter-Strike, this is not exactly the case. It turns out that cyber football is now witnessing the most dramatic spike in bets. All football-related cyber matches are killing it right now (despite the fact that several major eSports championships are well underway to date).  The profitability of betting firms now primarily depends on more conventional team sports moving to the online space. 

Moreover, all betting companies are currently registering a surge in traffic volumes. 

It’s gratifying that placing bets on eSports events doesn’t cause doubts or distrust. The bets are growing in number alongside the volumes of traffic run to eSports tournaments, and our colleagues from the affiliate community only confirm this. 

To put it shortly, more bets are being placed on online events than ever, and so all cappers are now switching to eSports. I wouldn’t say that everything is perfect with eSports though. Advertisers are tightening the screws, some refuse to accept capper traffic, some change the required KPIs, some cut the bids. 


affiliate manager, Alfaleads


As a matter of fact, eSports are now the only available alternative for those who enjoy betting. Russian betting firm Liga Stavok (League of Bets) is registering a tenfold growth in the number of eSports bets, with increased interest being paid to cyber football (76%).  

As compared to the figures for January and February, the average number of clients making bets on a daily basis has grown sixfold. Cyber football is seeing the highest rise in popularity (76% of all bets), with Counter-Strike (25%) and Dota 2 (16%) ranking the second and third respectively. 

Liga Stavok

Bookmakers assume that in 2020 the eSports betting market will grow threefold in comparison with 2018 and 2019. All this is attributed to the cancellation of major tournaments. There is a demand on the part of bettors, but the supply of offline sporting events is lacking. Therefore, the betting industry is going online. Affiliate network and direct advertiser Leadbit confirms this, by the way. 

Against the backdrop of recent events, eSports betting is becoming increasingly popular, which is not surprising. As a lot of events got canceled or rescheduled on a massive scale, offline sports are now in for some tough times. Although many eSports events were also canceled, this didn’t affect the industry that much because the tournaments are now completely held online. The demand is still there, and so many people found an outlet in eSports, hence the audience growth. As for now, we can’t tell for sure how long this trend will last, whether eSports will gain a new foothold or fall back in popularity. 

Stanislav Korobka,

Head of Affiliate, Leadbit

Bookmakers both accept bets on eSports events and host eSports tournaments. It’s not that difficult to organize such an event. What you need is prize money, advertising, and the power of the Internet. At the same time, bookmakers don’t need to buy the rights for broadcasting video game tournaments: enough is to launch a stream on Twitch and broadcast everything on your website. 

It is likely that the prize funds of eSports tournaments will grow considerably this year, as it is eSports that now attract attention and financial investment amid the coronavirus pandemic and cancellation of major offline events.

To wrap it all up, there is considerable growth. The increasing popularity of eSports is primarily associated with the cancellation of almost all offline football events, and so it is cyber football that showed the most remarkable growth. No one can say for sure whether this trend will continue once the quarantine is lifted. One thing is clear, if you happen to have betting traffic, take a closer look at cyber football. Otherwise, wait for offline sporting events to resume.  

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