During the global health pandemic, esports betting has risen in popularity, with titles such as FIFA and NBA2k garnering incredible growth of up to 40 times its usual volume, according to EveryMatrix’s State of Esports Betting Report in May.
However, as live sporting events begin to resume, questions over the long term sustainability of esports betting have arisen, with sportsbooks waiting to see how betting volume will be affected and whether the growth of the sector will begin to taper off.
Metodi Zaburtov, Luckbox‘s Head of Sportsbook, analysed the immediate impact that live sport has had on the esportsbook, highlighting that while the growth rate has slowed, the sector is still in an incredibly healthy position.
Zaburtov stated: “Data shows that resumption of traditional sports did not have a negative impact on esports betting, especially on traditional esports titles. We see a continuous growth of betting volumes on a weekly and monthly basis in excess of 15 per cent.
“Obviously, the growth rate is slowing down in comparison to early pandemic times when it was as crazy as 155 per cent but we worked hard to lock up the gains we made in that period.
“CS:GO betting volumes sky-rocketed, with consistent double-digit percentage growth on a monthly basis for both the number of bets and betting volumes.
“Esports bettors and, specifically, CS:GO bettors are spending more and more during the pandemic and the signs are clearly visible in the data. Average bet size increased 33% in May and 62% in June on a monthly basis.”
He continued: “Dota 2 volumes dipped slightly, due to a lack of top-tier LAN events in May compared to April but now back up to 17% growth in volumes.
“League of Legends volumes were also affected by the break between spring and summer splits but, with the return of LCS and LEC in particular, there’s been a 93% growth in volumes and 75% growth in the number of bets in June compared to May.”
Nevertheless, while traditional esport titles have continued to attract punters, the same cannot be said with sport-centric titles. Zaburtov emphasised that the drop of sports simulated games such as FIFA, NBA and Formula 1 was always to be expected, with a lot of traditional bettors using the games as a substitute until live events returned.
“Data shows that interest in sports-simulation titles, such as NBA2k and FIFA, slowed down after live traditional sporting events resumed, which was to be expected,” Zaburtov added. “From June to May, there was a steady double-digit percentage decline in both the number of bets and betting volumes.”
Focus then shifted on to the ways that the esportsbook could retain some of its bettors which have joined the platform as a result of postponed live sports. While it is impressive to accrue such a massive spike in customers in the short-term, it’s about maintaining that fanbase to ensure long-term sustainability.
Zaburtov explained: “We saw the spike thanks to the absence of traditional sports and we were optimistic we could get some of these new players to stay with us. We’re delighted that we’ve been able to do that with various techniques, including some attractive bonuses for our existing players.
“As an operator, it’s important to be agile enough to adapt to the changing landscape. Clearly, Covid-19 has been an extreme example but, in esports, with new games arriving all the time and popularity of titles shifting, that flexibility is paramount to stay ahead of the game and to meet the demands of our players.”
To conclude, it seems that esports specific operators such as Luckbox have continued to see overall growth in the sector, albeit a declined growth due to the meteoric rise of sports centric titles during the COVID crsis.
Nevertheless, esports betting has emerged from the pandemic with a higher profile and more recognition which, according to Zaburtov, will only continue now that tournaments can start to be played offline again as opposed to online competitions.
“Esports betting is not a new phenomenon and is here to stay. There is already a bigger awareness,” he highlighted.
“On the downside, LAN events are heavily missed. Online events can temporarily replace them but, overall, the esports community needs them and we’ll all be pleased to see them return.”