Gambling has permeated just about every sport on the planet. You can even gamble on wrestling (does that count as a sport?) So it’s to absolutely nobodies surprise when it started to seep into the fabric of eSports. This, not unlike the industry itself is on the rise, but like with many sports, gambling in eSports has a dark underbelly.
eSports gambling made legal
Here in the UK gambling on sports has never been deemed illegal. Until recently the same couldn’t be said for the US where gambling on any sporting event was illegal. In fact in most states gambling of any sort was illegal. (Hence the popularity of places like Atlantic City and Las Vegas.) but that all changed with when the Supreme caught revoked that rule and slowly but surely a great deal of states have started to allow various forms of sports betting.
Deal in place to bring gambling to eSports
There have been several notable deals already clearly aimed at bringing gambling and eSports together. Take for instance the partnership between GameWorks and SCCG. The former is a company that usually specialises in supplying venues for arcade-style events and the latter concern themselves with casino management. The partnership has come together to work on a future project including peer gambling.
It isn’t just existing companies trying to get a piece of the pie either. A lot of start-ups are clamouring to get in on the action. These aren’t just small entrepreneurs with little clout either, the music artist Drake has invested heavily in a company who are looking to enter into this market. This perhaps demonstrates just how lucrative it could potentially be.
The dark underbelly of gambling
Unfortunately, like with many sports, the gambling industry in eSports is not without its downsides. Putting aside for just a second the issues associated with gambling in general, you know the fact that it is addictive and can ruin people’s lives. There’s also the fact that as with any sport the system can be potentially manipulated.
Trying to keep matters in hand
An organisation known as the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) met for a summit last month in Malta to discuss the escalation in suspicious eSports gambling. The amount of suspicious bets that have been placed has risen by as much as 75% and for one of eSports most prestigious titles, Dota 2, that figure is 100%. Of course, as the industry goes, you might expect an increase in these figures.
The real issue
Of course one of the biggest threats is the fact that gamers can manipulate the system and effectively fix matches in order to turn a profit. Match-fixing scandals have permeated nearly every sport. On the bright side, the fact that these practices exist gave us a great movie in the form of The Longest Yard. The downside is of course that gambling companies are being left out of pocket, and actually, people rigging the outcomes of gaming tournaments will eventually decrease their prestige with the fans and may lead to a decline in the eSports industry.
Further to this is the fact that there is very little in the way of legislation in the US to protect against these sort of practices. In the UK where gambling has been legal for a long time there a protocols to help avoid such issues. But the US’s newly found freedom when it comes to gambling, coupled with the lack of regulations when it comes to eSports, in general, is a terrible combination and there isn’t a wealth of money to help fund a solution either. One thing is clear though regulations need to be forthcoming or it could well start to affect the industry itself.