In recent times, eSports have exploded onto every scene, and this now includes legendary Las Vegas. It is a mushrooming industry, with video games becoming part of the Vegas betting scene. eSports generated $325 million in 2015, which was followed by $439 million in 2016; the same year that worldwide viewership reached the 380 million mark.
The best way to describe eSports is a competition between teams or individuals, made possible by electronic systems – most commonly, video games. There is already a dedicated landing page for eSports on the ESPN website, just to give you some idea of how big they are getting. The Xiligol Vocational College of Inner Mongolia also recently became the first institution to offer a degree in eSports. Since Las Vegas constantly has to stay ahead of gambling trends, and always offer the best in casino games and entertainment, it makes sense that it is taking the new eSports craze so seriously.
Just because eSports are played with video games, do not think that competitors have it easy. They need to train for months and events are tightly coordinated. The Dreamhack Masters, held at the MGM Grand in February 2017, featured 8 qualifiers and 8 invitees to make a total of 16 teams. It was run just as a live sporting event would be, but each 5-player team was playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
The Dreamhack Masters final was even televised, complete with commentators and instant replays. And, of course, sportsbooks were involved. They put up futures and head-to-head figures on the semi-finals and the finals. Robert Cortez, district manager for William Hill, says that the bookmaker often simulcasts massive eSports events and offers different wagers, since being granted the first licence in Las Vegas to do so. The tournaments are often held in huge sporting arenas, such as the Extreme Masters at the Oracle Arena in November 2016.
The other aspect to eSports is that they can be based on actual sports; football is especially popular in this regard. There are already screens dedicated to virtual horseracing at the Las Vegas William Hill, and fantasy league games have been popular for years.
In fantasy leagues, you get to assemble your own ideal team, and are ranked according to real-life player performances and statistics. Betting on eSports, based on real sports games, simply takes this to the next level. You get to bet on the performance of a player in an eSports game. This could, in theory, be anyone, but it’s much more exciting when it’s an actual sportsman.
The idea may sound like something from the future, but it is already happening. Kieran Brown, for example, just signed on as the first e-player for Manchester City. Sean Allen did the same with West Ham, and more appointments seem likely. As the industry continues to grow, bookies are sure to be interested.
Current Betting Possibilities
While online bookies are getting involved in the more sports-like eSports (and this is sure to spread beyond William Hill to the rest of Vegas), for now, a lot of activity on the strip is limited to fantasy video games. Gosugamers.net has made things a little easier by providing a ranking system that changes moment by moment. This, along with other statistics, should help oddsmakers to understand how strong each team is.
The ratings and statistics will also help bettors decide where they want to put their money down, and there is plenty of money to be won in eSports. Watching the games and betting on them is exciting and rewarding, and players also stand to make a tidy sum – if they are good enough, of course. According to esportsearnings.com, the number 1 player in the world is Saahil Arora, a 27-year-old from America. Since 2011, he has won over $2.7 million playing Dota 2. Speaking of Dota 2, its recent tournament was held in Seattle, Washington, and offered a prize pool of more than $20 million – a very impressive amount.
As we have seen so often in the past, it is possible to bet on anything. There have even been bets on when polar bears will become extinct, or when the world will end. Add to this the fact that Las Vegas always pushes boundaries as far as possible, and it seems clear that eSports betting can go as far as our imaginations will allow it. Fantasy worlds and real-life sports should both remain areas of interest, with the total eSports turnover expected to hit $30 billion by the year 2020. Who knows how much of that Las Vegas will account for?
Next time you’re lucky enough to visit Las Vegas, try to take in some eSports betting and spectating. With the world moving the way it is, and becoming more technological, it could even become the main attraction at Sin City!