Betting on esports, while currently sharing ‘grey’ status with traditional sports betting in the US, will be worth watching closely if the projections contained within a recent report compiled by Newzoo are anything to go by. According to the provider of market intelligence covering the global games, esports and mobile markets, North America is leading the way in esports with revenue of $345m expected in 2018.

Looking further ahead, Newzoo predicts that income from esports will grow to reach $656m by 2021. Most of these revenues, it claimed, will come from sponsorships which will grow from $100m in 2017 to $162m in 2018. It stated: “This is boosted by the number of North American teams that have welcomed new non-endemic sponsorships and the region hosting several of the world’s largest leagues and tournaments. The 23 million enthusiasts in North America will generate $14.80 per fan this year, higher than in any other region.”

The firm, citing recent research, also ventured that esports could take another five to 10 years to mature fully as a business. It added: “The same research showed that brands and agencies expect the ecosystem to be fully professionalized in three to five years. This illustrates the current status of the market: great expectations from outside and more conservative views from people within. This year will be pivotal in determining the pace at which esports becomes the global multi-billion-dollar business we all envisage.

“Several key factors will influence the speed of its growth, including whether esports can engage new fans through new formats and franchises, the growth of mobile esports, the success of the franchising structure, and team profitability. On its current trajectory, we estimate the esports industry will reach $1.4bn by 2020. If any of these factors accelerate, a more optimistic scenario places revenues at $2.4bn.”