How Sports Betting Can Affect Esports

Sports betting has found its way into esports, and with good reason. The world of esports is growing, and growing fast. In fact, Forbes predicts sports betting will become a $122 billion industry by next year.

But while many traditional sports can be injected into esports, the two don’t necessarily blend together. As a result, the introduction of sports betting to esports has led to some interesting questions regarding the legal, competitive, and practical aspects of the emerging industry.

Legal Aspects

One of the biggest differences between traditional sports and esports is legal. While there are no concrete examples of esports being banned due to gambling, it’s an issue that has been raised by various regulators and communities. Most notably, the Australian Federal Police raided two Melbourne esports teams’ premises in May 2019 after alleging the games they were playing were ‘wagering games’ defined by the country’s relevant laws to include bingo, roulette, and a range of poker-related games. The teams were not charged with a crime, but the raid was a serious warning to the burgeoning esports industry.

Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, one of the raided premises’ owners, David Joyce, said the game-related items seized by the police are now in limbo, as the teams have been unable to play for nine months due to notary challenges and other legal complexities. He also noted that the teams were operating without a license, putting them at serious risk of being banned if the Australian Federal Police decides to pursue the matter.

Another issue that has been flagged as a potential legality concern is team ownership. In traditional sports, players are individuals who operate independently of one another. In esports, teams are becoming more common, often made up of individuals who are part of a larger group, such as an organization or corporation. In some cases, individuals who are part of a team may also have a stake in the team, either financially or via shareholding. In the eyes of the law, is a stakeholder simply providing equipment and supporting the team, or is he or she also directly involved in the administration of the team, and thus breaking some sort of legal code?

Competitive Aspects

Although esports is a relatively new form of entertainment, it has quickly become a worldwide phenomenon. With over 100 million views on Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook alone, fans of esports will no doubt be tuned into this year’s big tournaments.

Given that esports is a competition, sports betting can also be used as a tool for analyzing and improving performance. After all, if a team or individual can perform better following a betting session then there’s a good chance they’ll be motivated to do so. Naturally, this raises questions regarding the competitive integrity of esports. What kind of integrity should esports competitions strive for, and how should fans feel about competitive matches where the outcome is somewhat in the shade?

In some cases, betting on esports may even be considered an advantage for certain individuals and teams. Specifically, many gambling websites and apps will offer incentives for placing certain bets on certain games. For example, many bookmakers will award free bet credits for backing a certain team in an Overwatch League match.

Practical Aspects

This brings us to the topic of practical aspects, such as banking and payment methods. For decades, regular sports fans have been accustomed to using their credit cards to make wagers on the various games involving their favorite teams. However, that practice has not yet trickled down to esports, and many fans and participants still prefer to use unregulated platforms to place bets and offers, or to use Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to hedge their bets. Additionally, it’s often difficult for fans to place bets on certain games if they’re not from the country where the game is hosted, especially if they want to use a credit card to do so.

The legal and competitive implications of placing sports bets in the esports world are interesting, to say the least. While many fans of esports will no doubt enjoy the occasional game wager, the underlying issues surrounding the matter are potentially serious. If you’re interested in becoming a key part of the $122 billion betting industry next year, or if you’re simply curious about how sports betting affects esports, then this article is for you.