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Betting on esports emerged soon after cybersports became widely recognized as a professional competition, though it took a while for esports bookies to take notice of the potential betting on esports has.
CS:GO skins betting
Esports betting had its roots in CS:GO skins betting, or in other words, betting with in-game cosmetic items, which cost real-life money to acquire. The problem with this way of betting was that it was only available on third-party sites, which weren’t certified betting operators.
That essentially meant the beginning of e-sports betting was unregulated and left the doors open for exploitation from both websites that offered to bet, as well as bettors themselves, some of whom even participated in games they were betting on.
Valve, a prominent game developer, eventually put a halt to the skin betting by suing third-party websites, which ended an era of what can only be described as the dark times of esports betting.
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Esports betting soars to new heights in 2016
At first, esports betting was greeted with reservations from the betting community, and rightfully so, as esports betting companies did not make much money from it.
One massive factor that played a role in that was the fact that cybersports mostly targeted a younger audience, who were, in most part, underage and unable to place any wagers.
But as the years went by, the largest portion of esports fans became of age. It ushered a massive boom in esports betting, effectively helping with the growth of the electronic sports scene.
That drew in more viewership and more esports bettors – creating a triangle of sorts between viewership numbers, esports betting, and the esports industry using the revenue to expand further, where all three factors helped with the growth of one another.
By 2016, esports already had a global viewership of over 250 million. This led many prominent online sports betting sites to start offering esports markets, although in a very primitive state, with only a handful of esports titles.
By the end of 2019, esports expanded to all corners of the world and amassed over 500 million esports fans globally. Meanwhile, the worldwide esports betting market revenue already reached over $1.81 million in 2020, with over $8 billion wagered on e-sports by the end of 2019.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the esports betting revenue is further growing with each passing day, given that electronic sports have taken over the betting markets, since the majority of the esports scene is at a standstill.