Online casino vs esports betting: How the two sectors are growing

16 August 2021
The online gambling sector is ever-evolving.

The online gambling sector is ever-evolving. (photo by Flickr)

The online gambling sector is ever-evolving. This is evident through new trends we have seen emerge over the last few years. The COVID-19 pandemic did little to slow down interest in gambling, and if anything, it allowed the market to grow and expand in scope. One example of this is the esports betting sector. But how is it doing in terms of growth and value, and how exactly does it stack up against online casinos?
History of esports betting
Betting on esports is more or less the same as conventional sports betting. The main difference is that the bet is placed on the outcome of video game tournaments, not sports like football or tennis. An esports tournament takes place between two or more video game enthusiasts. It can be played in an arena or streamed over the internet to viewers. The first appearance of competitive video gaming was noted in 1971 at the University of Stanford.
The game in question was called Spacewar, a far cry from the high-tech games of today. Over the years, interest grew in esports, at around the same rate as new technology made games more interesting. As more fans accumulated, they began to start placing bets on the outcome of games. They took the form of informal bets between networks of esports fans. Other bets were skins bets. This form of betting is where in-game items such as shields, weapons, or even abilities, can be wagered instead of fiat currency.
Due to the increasing numbers of esports fans and those wishing to bet, it was clear that a solution to illegal betting needed to be found. Many esports betting sites sprung up. Other betting sites also incorporated esports betting options into their platforms by creating legal ways for esports fans to bet, this afforded protection to them and operators.
What the statistics say now
For some years, esports demonstrated steady growth, but in 2020, things went into overdrive. As sporting arenas fell quiet due to the COVID-19 pandemic, esports had a moment. With no conventional sports to bet on, bettors had to look for other options. esports was then pipped as a replacement and as something that could save significant drops in betting revenue.
According to The Global esports Betting Market (2021-2027) report, the esports betting sector is expected to grow at 13.7% CAGR year on year. This means it will reach a value of $2.1 billion in the next six years.
The most popular game with 45% of the betting market share is League of Legends, and most bettors are between 18-25 and male. In terms of regions, Europe leads the way, followed by Asia, although the difference between the two is negligible.
Overall, including other service providers such as sponsors, advertisers, streaming services, and more, the sector is on track to surpass $13 billion by 2025. This shows that esports is very much here to stay and has successfully transitioned to the mainstream.
A history of online casino
The world’s first Casino was opened in 1638 on the Grand Canal in Venice. It helped start what went on to be a casino craze in the city, with 120 more casinos opening in the following 100 years. Over the years, casinos spread worldwide, and it’s estimated there are over 2,125 accepting bets today. But as technology advanced, the needs and demands of consumers changed as well.
People started wanting digital entertainment, games to play at home, and even games to play on the go. As mobile phones and smartphones became more common, players wanted to engage with their favorite casino games while using them.
Subsequent generations wanted on-demand services and convenience, and so, the online gambling sector was born. The first licenses for online casinos were granted in 1996, and since then, the industry has blossomed.
Different kinds of games emerged, helped along by technological advances. Today, people gamble with digital currency, engage with augmented reality games, and use VR headsets to immerse themselves. They can even play in real-time with live dealers and interact with other players.
What the statistics say now
The online gambling sector has been on an upwards trajectory for some years. While it hasn’t yet taken over from land-based gambling and betting, it’s taking a sizable chunk of its revenue. But like with eSports, 2020 was something of a catalyst year. As casinos closed their doors and many didn’t reopen, players searched for other ways to play their favorite games. This, combined with an appetite for technology and handheld entertainment, saw online casinos thrive.
By the end of 2021, the value of the online gambling sector is expected to reach $72.02 billion. But that’s not all. Over the subsequent years, a CAGR of 12.3% has been forecasted, meaning we will see it surpass $112 billion by 2025. The most popular games include slots and live dealer games, with regular card games in third place. Additionally, mobile gambling is by far the strongest vertical, with demand expected to continue growing.
But is this growth sustainable? The answer is yes. Not only is revenue growth, but the number of new demographics is also increasing. GenXers, women, and those who previously never considered online gambling are all becoming interested, as are those that like to gamble with cryptocurrency.
What’s in store for the future?
In the future, the sky is the limit. We can expect more platforms opening catering to either or both kinds of gambling. esports will continue to win over new fans and betting customers, and online gambling will expand with the support of technology. The number of companies getting licensed and opening new platforms will also increase, but don’t worry; there are plenty of fans and bettors to go around!

Ron Mendelson

Ron Mendelson is the Director of Costa-Rica based business and financial consultancy firm, Fast Offshore. With over two decades of experience in corporate services, iGaming, international business, finance, licensing and legal matters, he advises a number of international clients on their business needs in the Americas, Europe, and beyond.