Esports, this is a broad sweeping term that is used to described a wide array of online multiplayer games that have developed into spectator sports. The past two years have seen rapid growth in the Esports scene as games such as League of Legends, DoTA 2, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive have all gained huge fan bases. The 2014 League of Legends final saw a peak of 11.2 million concurrent viewers. DoTA 2 and CS:GO also attracted millions of viewers during their tournaments as well. All of this growth has led to an industry that caters to the fans of these games.
Twitch TV is an online platform that was developed to stream these games 24 hours a day, and it has seen huge success. It was bought buy Amazon for just shy of one billion dollars in August of 2014.
There are now many other sites that are looking to cash in on the lucrative Esports market. One of the trends that is quickly gaining momentum is the slew of websites that allow viewers to gamble on matches.
One of the most successful websites for this is CSGO Lounge. They allow viewers to wager in game items from Counter Strike on matches between professional teams. However these items are all worth real money, some of which are valued north of $500. Therefore there is a significant amount to be gained if you win, especially when you bet on an under dog. However like all emerging markets there has been plenty of controversy that has involved the website. The first were issues with administrators of the site and their lack of over-site. On several occasions viewers attacked the servers that hosted the matches in what is known as a denial of service attack (DDoS). Simply put they used other computers to attempt to connect to said server, and did so in such great numbers that it caused the server to crash. This was one because they believed they would lose the items the wagered due to the potential outcome of the match.
In many cases the administrators of CSGO Lounge took pride in the fact that their users were disrupting these matches. This brought the site a lot of negative attention. CSGO Lounge also refused to return items in some cases which only added to the community distaste for the website. This series of unfortunate events opened the market up to other sites. CSGO betting sites began cropping up all over the web. New sites were born were you were not betting on any games, but rather your chances of winning a community funded cache of in game items was directly proportional to the value of the items that you contributed.
The popularity of the CSGO betting websites stems from legislation that makes gambling on sports, including Esports, illegal in all but a few states. Since these sites use in game items for wagers they circumvent this legislation. However fans in other regions of the world have the ability to bet actual currency on these matches.
One of the largest sites that caters to Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia is EGamingBets. This is a website that has been around since 2011. This site allows users to bet on not only the traditional multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs) such as League of Legends and DoTA 2 and First Person Shooters such as CSGO and Call of Duty, but it also allows wagers on games like StarCraft 2. This is a real-time strategy game, where the game focuses on resource collection and army building. This game is extremely popular in South East Asia where it has been played competiviely for more than a decade. Aside from that the site also has matches from other genres of games as well, however on a less consistent basis.
The tremendous success of EGamingBets has led to a wave of sites following suit. There are even US based companies that have Esports betting sites, however they to are forbidden from allowing access to citizens of the very country they are based in. However with the growing market of Esports as well as more traditional sports such as American football and basketball, there is a push to change the legislation that prohibits online betting in the United States. The charge is being led by the State of New Jersey. Being home to Atlantic City the state is no stranger to betting. The state’s horse racing industry is looking to maintain the legal status of their businesses, and in doing so they would be allowing all sports betting to become legal in the state. The eyes of the world are watching because a victory in New Jersey could serve as an example for neighbors states, and eventually the nation. This is beneficial to Esports betting as well because this could render it legal as well. Currently the case is being appealed in the US Federal Appeals court.
Unfortunately as long as sports betting remains something of a taboo in the United States there is a limit for growth in the Esports gambling world. If it ever becomes a legal market, and a well regulated issue, then there is a great potential for growth. Until then the fans are left with sites like CSGO Lounge that use in game items, or they have to use other, possibly less than legal, means to bet on their favorite Esports. This is a industry that can be made or broken by those in Washington D.C. In the mean time keep watching, cheering, and wagering what you can.