The Rise of Gambling on Major eSports Events

While betting on sporting competitions has been happening for years, a new challenger in the realm of gambling has emerged — eSports. As defined by the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, eSports are video games played competitively for others to spectate as entertainment. The practice has been a winning combination in recent times, bringing together the popularity of gaming with technology and competition. However, where there’s competition, there’s also bound to be betting.

Much like with the Kentucky Derby or Super Bowl, major eSports tournaments and events are also gambled on by spectators in hopes of making a big win. To learn more about this growing field of entertainment and betting, here’s a look at the rise of eSports gambling over the past decade and how it can influence problematic gambling behaviors.

The Rise of eSports Gambling

The rise of eSports gambling can be traced back to early 2010 when the online bookmarker Pinnacle became the first to create an eSports betting market on the real-time strategy game StarCraft 2. The more popular eSports became, the more people gambled on it. By late 2014, Pinnacle found that over one million bets on eSports had been made — and that number would only continue to grow. 

After the COVID-19 pandemic canceled in-person events for traditional sports because of social distancing measures, eSports gambling skyrocketed. Online streaming platforms like YouTube and Twitch flourished during this time, and more people began to watch major eSports competitions than ever before. It’s estimated that eSports viewership will go from 454 million to 646 million between 2019 and 2023 — roughly 192 million more people watching eSports in just four years.

Of course, the more eSports fans there are, the more gambling will occur. eSports betting is estimated to reach incredibly high levels — over $13 billion in global value — by 2025. Some of the most popular games played during major eSports competitions include League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, along with others like the battle royale games like Fortnite and PUBG.

What Research Has to Say About eSports and Gambling

As the rise of eSports gambling continues, so too will problematic behavior surrounding its competitive events. Researchers have conducted studies on adults who gamble in eSports and have made several conclusions in the process. For example, one study found that skin betting — in-game cosmetics that change the appearance of a character’s avatar — is strongly implicated in gambling problems. Meanwhile, betting cash on eSports and its major events only represents an individual’s interest but is still one of the many outlets for problematic gambling behaviors.

For Help With eSports and Gambling Problems, Contact Us Today

If you or someone close is struggling with eSports betting, 800-GAMBLER will be there to provide assistance and resources. We offer information on gambling behaviors and disorders, including videos on gambling and ways to help you find gamblers’ anonymous support meetings. To learn more about the dangers of problematic gambling behaviors and how they can be overcome, call our free, confidential helpline today.


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