Esports ready for the mainstream

As esports continues to gain interest in the betting industry, Rohini Sardana, Head of Product Propositions at SIS, highlights the defining factors that will take the vertical to the next level to become a mainstream betting product

The growing influence of esports within the global betting industry was clear to see at ICE London 2020, with huge areas dedicated to the world’s fastest growing sports vertical.

There’s no doubt that it is grabbing the interest of the sector given the numbers of delegates taking the time to head over to the stands that were showcasing esports related products, as well as big crowds at the esports arena that was built at ExCeL to broadcast a live CS:GO tournament with a $250,000 prize pool.

While we continue to talk up the potential of esports, the challenge for many operators now is how to convert this popularity into significant revenues and profits.

The real defining factor as to whether this vertical becomes a significantly profitable betting product for online and retail sportsbooks, is in driving engagement with existing bettors of other sports. In order to maximise the potential of betting on esports, the way in which the events are delivered to bettors needs to be optimised in a way that makes it appealing to them.

Making esports relevant for sports bettors

A key challenge for the betting & gaming industry is engaging bettors to try a new experience, as they feel more comfortable wagering on events they know and understand. Many of the biggest esports tournaments feature games that are unfamiliar to bettors at large, therefore the game formats and markets aren’t obvious to them, meaning they are less likely to engage with the product.

While esports fans may enjoy the odd flutter, it is easier and cheaper for operators to convert existing sports bettors to esports than it is to acquire new esports bettors.

In order to cross-sell esports to existing sports bettors, the esports betting product must be presented in a way that is easy to understand. Our own esports betting product, SIS Competitive Gaming, was built with bettors in mind. When conducting market research into this space, it was the events on popular sports titles between qualified gamers that really resonated with existing sports bettors, appreciating that the games were similar to those of mainstream sports formats.

Streamed pictures tell the overall story

While data is of course an important factor in allowing sportsbooks to offer a wide variety of esports markets that feature reliable and accurate odds, it is important that the data is accompanied by live pictures in order to create an engaging betting experience.

With esports in its infancy in the betting world, it’s critical that bettors become more familiar with the vertical. Allowing them to watch live events that are complemented with commentary and betting prompts will ultimately allow them to engage with the product and help them develop an understanding of the mechanics.

We know that visual content helps to drive sports betting revenue as it increases customer engagement and delivering authentic live streams in a compelling way will work for esports too.

A package that works

At ICE London 2020, global operators that specifically visited our stand for a first-hand experience of the live events were able to understand how SIS Competitive Gaming presents esports to bettors in an easy to understand and familiar format.  The end-to-end solution, which includes live streamed events, highly engaging commentary betting triggers and a complete betting feed that includes  an extensive range of pre-match and in-play markets and prices, and has been optimised for sportsbooks, allowing operators to tap into this fast-growing betting vertical.

With a schedule of 15,000 live events a year featuring a dedicated integrity referee, following best practices by ESIC for every event, there are plenty of short-form betting opportunities for bettors to wager on. We also have a team of specialist traders that are experts in the games that we are offering, supported by a proprietary trading application and industry leading algorithms to deliver prices to optimise operators’ margins.

It’s only a matter of time before esports becomes a mainstream vertical in the betting industry. Knowing how to deliver the events to existing bettors is the key to ramping up engagement and driving significant revenues and profits.