Kambi’s State of the Nation: A look into the future of betting on esports

Kambi - Abios Future of esports
Niclas Sundell, Head of Sales at Abios
Niclas Sundell

What was once a rather niche form of entertainment, albeit one with swiftly rising cultural influence, is now a billion-dollar industry with millions of viewers worldwide, writes Niclas Sundell, Head of Sales at Abios

Competitive gaming, otherwise known as esports, has grabbed the attention of a vast and growing global audience. With its growth in popularity, sports betting operators are also turning their attention to the opportunities that professional esports presents to them. 

One of the reasons why Kambi acquired Abios, a data-as-a-service esports company, is to help facilitate the growth of betting on esports through its market-leading data and technology. Kambi and Abios recently published a white paper, “Bring esports into play”, which takes an in-depth look at the current state and future potential of betting on esports. In this State of the Nation, you will find some of the key highlights that we found.

Bigger than baseball?

The esports industry already has more than 500 million fans worldwide and is expected to continue to grow at a rapid pace, reaching nearly 650 million fans by 2025. In the United States alone, where esports betting is legal to some extent in more than a dozen states, it is projected that there are already more viewers of esports than the MLB, NBA, and NHL, with only the NFL accounting for more viewers. 

A large portion of its growth amongst younger audiences has to do with the way that esports is broadcast. Most matches are viewed via streaming platforms such as Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Gaming which has contributed to the growth of a digital-native audience with more experience viewing and purchasing things online.  

There are several keys to building a successful esports betting offering and addressing some of the roadblocks that stand in the way of a best-in-class esports product. Just like developing any other sports betting product, a roadmap with the right process and infrastructure is required to build a compelling offer. 

To capitalize on the growing interest in esports, it’s important to create an engaging product. Esports offerings should be looked at as their own entity and not just an extension of traditional sports betting. That’s why having a trusted partner with proven infrastructure, clear and simple integration processes, as well as active ongoing communication, is vital to getting an esports product off the ground and maintaining engagement for years to come.

The importance of data and DOTA

Some of the most popular esports games today are the likes of League of Legends, CS:GO, and DOTA 2. With much of the audience’s attention already focused on these, it is important to take a quality over quantity approach that focuses on perfecting the products that a majority of esports fans are engaged in and would want to bet on. This makes it important to focus on key features for these types of tournaments, rather than delivering an offering of shallower quality on a wider range of games. 

The digital properties of esports makes the data from tournaments and game servers some of the fastest data sources available. Access to this data is paramount and unlocks the opportunity for markets to be open throughout the entire lifetime of a match or competition. It also gives operators the means to capitalize on products and offers that can be found through traditional sports betting such as bet builders, instant markets, and in-game betting.

The importance of being able to swiftly manage varying jurisdictional approaches to esports should also not be discounted. Looking to the US specifically, each state takes its own approach to esports betting, with many taking a limited approach while others block it from the offering entirely. Being able to automate compliance decisions – thereby making these processes scalable as more and more states regulate not only sports betting, but esports betting as well – is a crucial element to the delivery of a consistent depth and quality of esports betting as regulation permits. 

Kambi and Abios’ “Bring esports into play” white paper provides an extensive look into the esports betting industry. Within the white paper you can learn more about Abios, some of the esports industry’s biggest teams, games, and players, as well as other key findings on what the future of betting on esports will look like. As interest in esports betting continues to grow across the US, we’re excited to take the next step forward in creating the most engaging and immersive esports betting experience.