If esports, as some suggest, has helped fill some of the void left by the pandemic-led shutdown in major sports betting activity, what does the future hold for the genre when those traditional sports return, as they inevitably will?

Answering that question head on as part of a dedicated esports panel during this week’s SBC Digital Summit North America was Lovell Walker, until recently Head of esports at MGM Resorts and now the Founder of Onward. He believes that all the signs are there for a flourishing new betting sector, even once the established wagering options make their much awaited comeback.

He said: “As an operator, the prospects for it (esports) are really high, primarily because nobody can quite figure it out. And they really don’t want to allocate their resources to figuring it out. The upside is just unknown. 

“So if I’m an operator and my competitors are all going after the market that’s going to bet on the NBA, the NFL and PGA – the traditional type of events, why would I try to venture into esports and try to figure that out? Because there are costs associated to that, which is totally understandable and strategically it makes no sense.” 

According to Lovell, the upside is that there’s an entirely new market out there. “I’m of the opinion that the esports bettor isn’t a traditional sports bettor,” he said. “Those two things are separate entities. They eat at different restaurants. One’s eating sushi and one’s eating steak. And nobody’s interested in the sushi right now!”

Education, he added, is the key. “I think that there is an opportunity there. It’s a matter of who wants to take that leap and play in the blue ocean and own the blue ocean and get all the upside that’s associated with being in the blue ocean and wait for everybody else to figure it out once you have that total ownership. So I think the capabilities are there and I think the regulators are open to it.”

Joining Lovell on the panel, sponsored by esports insider, were Jennifer Roberts, Vice President & General Counsel, GameCo; Ricardo Lopez, Operations Unit Supervisor, Las Vegas Gaming Control Board; Bruce Merati, COO, BC Technologies; with Robert Davidman, Partner, Slapshot Media, moderating. 

SBC Digital Summit North America will conclude later today. But with plenty of activity and some big names yet lined up to speak, there is still time to register or obtain more information via the event’s official website.