History of eSports Part Two

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In the last post, we took a brief look into the history of eSports, and how eSports grew in popularity in terms of audience as well as in terms of sports betting. In this post, we will further explore the growth of eSports, and what the future holds.

In South Korea, eSports were officially recognised by the government in the year 2000, but this official stance took longer to be established in the West. In the early days, there were much fewer tournaments, and the tournament prizes were much smaller than they are these days. The first form of betting with eSports came through what is known as skin betting.

Skin betting was not available in all games, and in essence, it involved players acquiring items which could be bought and sold for cash which could also be wagered as a bet. However, the operators of these websites allowing skin betting did not perform any checks to ensure legal betting. There was also the issue that these websites did not perform checks to make sure that bettors were not those actually participating in the matches. Due to the lack of regulations, skin betting was seen as a dodgy form of betting which was to be avoided for the most part.

Ultimately, it undermined both the reputation and the status of the eSports industry. This led to fans of eSports, organisations, and athletes to band together to find a solution to this issue. One of the solutions was to discourage skin betting and move towards a full ban. Eventually, Valve, who own and run the largest online gaming platform (Steam), threatened to sue all third-party betting sites which allowed bettors to bet on skins which were the property of Steam.

After this ban, eSports betting involving real money started to become more and more prevalent as previous skin bettors were now looking for new outlets for their betting. Along with bookmakers offering eSports, there was a host of other sites which began to offer Bitcoin betting. This became a handy option for those who wanted some anonymity, and for those who resided in countries with betting restrictions.   

2015 was the year, In 2015 there were some online betting sites that offered eSports betting. But, the large bookmakers were still reluctant. Plus, the betting offer was far from diverse. In the early days, eSports betting was categorised together with virtual sports, despite the fact that the two are quite different.

Very few video games were offered at first, and only the leading competitions (tournaments and leagues) were available at first. Moreover, the number of markets was also quite limited. Basically, you could only bet on which team would win the match. Later, the over/under market was introduced, i.e. you could also bet on the total number of rounds or maps that would be played before the winner is decided. Punters quickly realised that real money eSports betting is a lot more reliable than skins betting.

Firstly, betting operators that offer real money betting are licenced by relevant institutions, they work in accordance with laws and regulations and they offer their customers a high degree of security. Your money and personal data are always safe with reliable online betting operators and the same can’t be said of third-party skins betting sites. While the popularity of real money eSports betting was growing, the operators began to realise that eSports betting is here to stay and judging by how quickly it was growing, many predicted that it might even surpass betting on traditional sports in the foreseeable future.

Slowly, betting operators upgraded their betting offer, introducing new games and more betting markets. By 2017 when skins betting was practically completely banned, the eSports betting offer was as diverse as the betting offer for popular betting sports. Punters were allowed to bet on less popular tournaments and less popular eSports, not just Dota 2, League Legends and CS: GO that were offered initially.

Moreover, outright betting on the outcome of tournaments, leagues and other competitions was also introduced, in addition to betting on the outcome of individual matches. The betting volume was growing steadily and several betting operators that offered exclusively eSports betting were established.

Unlike skins betting sites that often operated in a legal grey area, exclusive eSports betting sites, or at least the reliable ones are licenced and regulated and the punters’ funds and personal information are always fully protected.

Author: Josh Thompson

Lover of Nachos & eSports. CS:GO writer since 2013 covering major tournaments as well as working for some big esport startups

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