Esports betting has been a global phenomenon following the cancellation of live sports, with the growth of the industry catching the eyes of many traditional sports betting operators.

However in the LatAm market the sector still has a long way to go before it reaches the levels of engagement compared to other regions.

Speaking at ESI Digital Summer’s ‘Esports Betting in Latin America’ panel Steven Salz, the CEO of Rivalry, explained that the reasoning behind the region’s slow development in the competitive gaming market is due to the culture of gambling in LatAm.

He stated: “I think the first thing is that the culture of betting in esports doesn’t exist yet the way that it does in sports. Traditional sports have just been around longer. There’s a much deeper culture going back, you know, more than 100 years to betting on sports. So, as esports has grown alongside that you are starting to get some development around interest in sports betting on it, but it just isn’t there yet.

“From our perspective as an operator the user experience that a typical esports bettor would get on the average sports betting site is just not what they’re used to. So they’re 15 to even 20 years younger sometimes than the average traditional sports bettor.

“The user experience that they expect to have on the internet with any kind of consumer product, they don’t really get it from a traditional sports book. That experience hasn’t changed for a long time. So they are used to something a little more modern, which just isn’t there.”

Alejandro Kowalski, CCO of MobadooAK, also highlighted that LatAm poses a potential goldmine for esports betting due to its viewership popularity. However, the reason why competitive gaming fans are not engaging in the betting landscape is, he said, down to the perspective of traditional operators not aligning with the average esports fan.

Kowalski explained: “We will also ask some more questions because if having half a billion ‘esporters’ – that’s the way we call it internally in the company – that likes to play their game, they do not care about spending money online, they buy schemes, they do a lot of it. And they love to brag about how much they know about the game. Why is betting so low and we’re talking about a five% contribution.

“We think that it’s a matter of perspective. Esport has been used right now for most of the gaming operators as one more sport for the regular players. The problem is that it’s really difficult to bring the regular player, the traditional better to place a bet in League of Legends, because they do not understand it.

“The point is that if the gaming operators focus on the esporters and the gamers and use the right channels and the right message to go after them. They will be more attractive.”

Following this the discussion focused on the difference between traditional sports bettors and ‘esporters’, with the panel agreeing that by following a sport betting structure, in terms of how your product looks, the operator is not connected to its new potential audience.

“Almost all the companies offer sports betting, the sports betting platform for websites were created for sports,” emphasized Fernando Garita, Head of Business Development, Betcris.

“The platforms always include the esports area in the same menu of all the sports. That has to be different. The websites that are based like Steven’s website are based for esporters – it’s a totally different interaction. In traditional sports betting it’s a panel you can pick – you got the information right there, but for the esports you have to develop something different to be more attractive.”

A variety of marketing techniques was brought up throughout the panel, moderated by Latam Media Esports Manager Group Pablo Monti, including the best way to use sponsorship and influencers to connect with an audience. Additionally, the use of streamers was spotlighted as a lucrative opportunity for LatAm esport betting operators to increase their reputation whilst generating revenue.

Salz stated: “The reason why we offered it (streamer betting) is there’s definitely filler time between major events and often the biggest streamers in a particular market will stream in between them. So either they’re watching the event, and then there’s any kind of downtime in the middle, they’ll start streaming some playing games or, you know, if there is a day off they will stream during that time and then go back to streaming and watching the game.

“It was a great product to kind of ensure there was really no downtime between, you know, any major events and it’s great content. You’re already watching your favorite streamer, you put up, you know, 10 bucks, you’re gonna watch them for an hour and a half and you do a dozen 50 cent bets or something like very small bets. It’s also super entertaining and this is something that you can’t do with traditional sports.”

Garita concluded that the future of esports betting, particularly in LatAm, is the use of a ‘omni-channel’ in which the customer comes for the gambling experience but stays for what else the site offers, whether that be streaming, news or other additional gambling content.

He said:“The omni-channel is the future. The customers are the new blood of customers, they want to go to one single place and they can find everything. They can find data, information ,streaming, how to bet. That will be the key success of the websites. If they focus on that and of course, increase and and make improvements to the products then the omnichannel will be a success.”

Other topics that the panel discussed at ESI Digital Summer included how to relate to the perspective of an esports bettor, the possibilities of what esports betting content could become, and also how it is imperative to check the regulatory hurdles that each nation has before investing in competitive gaming.