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Covid-19 and cancelled leagues: switching from sports to esports

For many sports fans  self-isolating or in lockdown, esports is pretty much the only show in town at the moment -  CEO at Luckbox, Quentin Martin

Until a couple of months ago US operators were quietly counting the growing number of US states adding legalised sports betting to their repertoire. As the global health crises continues to grow, the traditional sports betting calendar has been looking sparse, the NBA, NHL and MLB have all suspended their seasons in the last week, Euro 2020 announced plans to postpone and the Tokyo-held Olympics are in talks to reconsider the current dates.

With retail properties also facing uncertain futures,  anyone who has had half an eye on the digital takeover of the betting world knows that the already thriving esports vertical is a sound bet to replace traditionally safe sources of sports betting revenue.

With a young audience at its fingertips, the esports vertical is on track to achieve the kind of mainstream celebrity it's been yearning for. Increased coverage from traditional outlets like ESPN, and endorsement from celebrities such as Michael Jordan, has helped propel it away from the niche space it once occupied and set it on course for tremendous growth within the sector.

Indeed esports audiences have risen rapidly; inspiring brand investment and driving revenue growth. It is unsurprising then, that analytics company Newzoo have reported that the sector raked in over $1 billion global revenue in 2019, and that according to Business Insider Intelligence, esports viewership is expected to grow at a 9% compound annual growth rate between 2019 and 2023.

The global esports betting market was initially predicted to be worth $1.6 billion by 2021, and as the health crisis intensifies, the resulting rise of confinement and social distancing could result in an already thriving vertical to experience an unexpected boost to its fortunes.

A strong social element from gaming-specific streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube Gaming gives fans a direct connection to the players and teams, while more mainstream socials have allowed those connections to flourish. 

Fast, multichannel distribution that incorporates a digital first mindset has the power to introduce a more long-term opportunity to transition the concept of esports to a wider, more general audience, shifting players and their stories to the fore.

Markets in Southeast Asia, India and Brazil for example, noticed a spike in gamers after the introduction of Lite apps in 2019, while well established markets in China and Southeast Asia have contributed to a huge spike in live viewership numbers for mobile esports.

CEO at Luckbox, Quentin Martin.

New CEO for esports betting platform Luckbox, Quentin Martin, stated: "While the esports calendar has also been affected, it’s much more resilient in this situation because matches can be played online, without players needing to be in the same place.

"And, while having fans live in an arena generates a great atmosphere, it doesn’t make too much difference to the hundreds of thousands of fans watching via live stream."

Martin stated, “We are perfectly positioned to capitalise on the boom in regulated esports betting and it’s up to me and the team to make sure we make the most of this opportunity, to grow the business and provide more fans with an awesome esports betting experience.”

Since the English Premier League announced its delay, Luckbox has seen a 54% increase of new player registrations in the past week. The numbers offer solid ground for the vast increase of interest in esports.

Martin opined that players who enjoy sports betting are more likely to give esports a try, having little else to bet on.

He also affirmed, "Many sports fans are self-isolating or in lockdown and esports is pretty much the only show in town at the moment."

About SiGMA Expo:

The iGaming summit SiGMA is setting its sights on Asia. Our ground breaking Asian iGaming expo will be held in Manila, on the 8th & 9th of June 2020. SiGMA's largest venue to date will bring together high quality conferences and content, premium networking opportunities, and luxury networking event. 10,000 delegates from across Europe, the US, and Asia are expected to attend, making this one of the biggest shows to unite East and West in the region.  To become a part of the fastest paced Asian iGaming event, book a pass or sponsor & exhibit.

For those planning to attend SiGMA Manila, AIBC Manila and ICE Asia at SMX on June 8-9th, this is the buzzing business environment to be expected:

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