So with skins dying a death and regulation forcing its way through esports betting, we should surely expect more partnerships between bookmakers and teams and competitions in the near future?
Nick White, of Couchmans LLP, mused on Friday how “five years ago major organisations in the US would not have touched gambling with a barge pole. Now we see the likes of the NBA establishing data based deals with suppliers such as Sportradar”.
White added that this is because integrity has improved, and that whilst it will take time we should expect a similar situation in esports.
Seemingly the stigma is being eroded away as the gambling industry as a whole improves on integrity measures across sports. It’s always key to remember when discussing integrity issues in esports, that it remains a serious issue in established traditional sports such as tennis but that some great work is being done to crack down on this throughout sports.
Other than the established partnership between Dafabet and Fnatic, few other major bookmakers have made much headway into sponsoring either teams or competitions so far. Adam Simmons, Content Director at Dingit TV, commented: “Developers such as Blizzard maintain a strict anti-gambling stance which mean we are unlikely to see any sponsorships in its major tournaments, or for teams in Overwatch, Hearthstone or StarCraft, anytime soon.”
Speaking on the same panel as White and Sweetpatch TV Founder David Witts at the Esports 2016 conference at London’s The Strand Palace hotel, William Hill’s Alex Rutherford discussed the operator’s current situation when it comes to offering wagering on esports. He said: “The opportunity exists to cater to esports fans specifically but for now we are primarily focused on getting sports bettors to try out a new market.”
He continued: “It is currently difficult to assess irregularities in esports, and on the topic of partnerships we’ll be waiting a couple of years to see how the markets develop.”
The variety and complexity of esports was discussed too, and Esports Insider’s Ollie Ring commented on the example of Starcraft and regulated betting. He noted: “You don’t tend to see StarCraft now as the one vs one nature coupled with the relatively low prize pools mean it’s vulnerable to match fixing and exploitation.”
On the topic of bookmakers Ring also highlighted the strong work being done by Betway whose focused esports portal and quality content has been well received by many esports fans.
It is precisely this type of groundwork which must be put in place before bookmakers launch gung ho into esports sponsorships.