The global cancellation of sports competitions put an obvious squeeze on the sports betting industry.
Suddenly interest in esports surged both among players and bookmakers, taking the former side option to the top of betting activity and revenue sources. Industry experts forecasted massive growth in the esports market, predictions that came to fruition. However, now that more conventional sports have resumed, the spotlight seems to be shifting away from esports again. Nonetheless the change may have impacted the sports betting landscape for years to come.
Pinnacle, a popular bookmaker, reported that while it had esports featured in its sportsbook for more than a decade, the offering was typically considered obscure and underperforming. Reports from this past June tell a far different story, with esports topping the betting platform by leaps and bounds. B2B igaming supplier EveryMatrix has reported a 4000% growth increase in esports during the month of May, with most of the activity attributable to FIFA and NBA 2K after both professional football and basketball fell under the corona-axe.
A decrease in esports betting was always predicted once popular sports returned, and so far the market is acting to expectation. But activity levels are not returning to the pre-pandemic standard, foretelling a shift in the foundation of the category. Quentin Martin, CEO of Lunchbox, an esports betting platform, describes the growth as ‘automatically sustaining.’ Martin claims that many players were activated during the absence of sports, players previously uninterested or unaware of esports, and a significant number of them have been retained.
Marco Blume of Pinnacle even warns that a market saturation for esports is on the horizon. So many operators rushed to get esports on their platform at once that those late to the game may not have the market position to ensure a return on their investments. Unless esports competitions exponentially expand to meet the supply of betting operators, saturation may bring a revenue plateau.