Behind the Broadcast Part 3: Data and betting

GGBET Behind The Broadcast Part 3 data betting
Image credit: GG.BET / Esports Insider

Betting has been a part of society since time immemorial. Some of the earliest documented gambling is from the Ancient Greek times when people would bet on the outcome of the Olympics. The first bookmakers didn’t grace England until 1850 when Leviathan Davis and Fred Swindell opened the first betting shop in London.

In modern day, betting is a huge part of not only the sports but also the esports industry. 

Esports Insider, in collaboration with betting brand GG.BET, looks into the role of bookmakers, betting, and data collection in the esports ecosystem. This is the final piece in the Esports Insider’s three-part series that has also detailed the role of teams & tournaments, and how event production works.

ESI London 2024

Esports betting refers to the act of placing a bet or a wager on a competitive video gaming match. Fans bet on the outcome of matches or in-game milestones in order to add excitement to the viewing experience, or to try and earn money.

When esports first became popular, traditional bookmakers were hesitant to offer betting lines on esports as it was something new and unfamiliar. Unlike traditional sports, where rules have been established for decades, esports comprised disciplines that were highly dynamic, with event outcomes influenced by numerous factors. Few bookmakers possessed the expertise or readiness to deal with this; they lacked both experts in the field and an understanding of the disciplines involved. 

But esports was the perfect hotbed for betting as most, if not all, esports events were free to watch and every single stat in gaming is digitally registered. This makes it easier to bet on multiple aspects of the game, reliably. Over time, as understanding of how to analyse gaming statistics developed, bookmakers began to offer betting lines on esports.

Unregulated skin gambling of the early days was eventually superseded by this legal, regulated gambling as game publishers started collaborating with bookmakers, such as GG.BET. This was looked upon much more favourably by game publishers such as Valve.

“In 2024, the anticipated revenue from the esports betting market was valued at $2.5 billion, which is almost 50% more than in 2019”, highlighted Dmytro Voshkarin, CEO of GGBET UA

“This growth was primarily due to a significant growth in the audience all over the world. A huge driver of that was the COVID-19 pandemic. When the majority of traditional sporting events were cancelled, bookmakers and bettors turned their attention to esports.”

GGBET Behind The Broadcast Part 3 infographic esports data betting
Image credit: GG.BET / Esports Insider

How do esports bookmakers operate?

Bookmakers create odds of certain outcomes happening based on data compiled both from previous matches and events, and the current situation using many statistics and indicators – these indicators even include the player’s mental states. 

Betting on the result of a match up is a very common offering, however, another type includes over and under bets where the bettor chooses whether a player will get under or over a certain amount of kills. For example if the number is 14 and they choose under, then they are hoping the player gets less than 14 kills. People can also bet on situations such as the exact score of a game in Dota 2, which team will win the pistol round in Counter-Strike, or which team will be first to kill a dragon in League of Legends, and much more.

To operate as a bookmaker the company must have betting licences that permit gambling in jurisdictions in which they offer their services. Currently, GG.BET’s brand operates in accordance with licences granted by UK Gambling Commission, Antillephone (Curaçao), Malta Gaming Authority, and a licence from the Ukrainian Regulator.

The bookmaker must also build up its user base which, in esports, has led to betting companies becoming some of the most prolific sponsors. Many teams and tournament organisers partner with bookmakers, advertising them on broadcasts, jerseys, and through activations.

As mentioned, betting companies use data to calculate odds for the bets — and that demand is met by data providers, such as DATA.BET. Data providers source data which is used to create lines of betting, this data can include statistics from teams and players, outcomes from matches, and other analytics that might affect a bet. The aim of the data provider is to make this data as accurate as possible so that the betting experience is enjoyable for the user and safe from integrity concerns.

Alex Kozachenko, Chief Product Officer at DATA.BET, spoke about how data providers ensure this: “By obtaining data through licensed sources, providers can offer a deeper and more detailed insight into esports events. This allows the creation of more comprehensive and accurate lines, reducing the risk of fraudulent activities and providing a better betting experience.”

The data sector of esports has also grown exponentially in a short period of time. A good example of this growth is that in April 2022 esports and gaming job platform Hitmarker had over 200 job adverts across the world tagged under ‘Data Analysis & Science’. 

“Esports emerged as a resilient alternative, fueled by its accessibility and ability to host virtual tournaments, leading to a surge in popularity throughout 2020 and 2021,” Kozachenko explained.

To obtain and source reliable data that bookmakers require, companies such as DATA.BET often work with tournament organisers and game publishers. DATA.BET also uses this data to create betting lines for bookmakers. Kozachenko added: “These collaborations allow us to provide licensed real-time data with minimal delays (up to 1 second) on the market, ensure client safety from fraudulent activities, and providing them the widest content coverage.” 

It is also worth noting that data providers don’t only work with bookmakers in esports, but also work with a variety of other types of companies. Another major client of data providers are news outlets who use statistics in articles to provide insight into how good a player or team might be performing. Collaborations between data companies and game developers can also go even deeper than just sourcing data through the creation of platforms that can bolster a game’s fan engagement or competitive ecosystem.

ggbet infographic overall
The infographic illustrates how various sectors of the esports industry fit together. Image credit: GG.BET / Esports Insider

Knock-on effects

The growth of esports betting has an undeniable knock-on effect on the industry at large.

Gambling companies have become some of the biggest sponsors in the sector, bringing valuable partnership deals to tournaments and esport organisations. As mentioned in the first article in this series, partnerships are the major way for both teams and tournament organisers to make money. So the fact that betting companies are able to provide so many sponsorship deals has boosted the industry.

There is also an argument to be made that betting could result in increased engagement and investment in esports events, particularly lower-tier competitions.

“One of the key areas where [bookmakers] have an impact [in esports] is audience growth,” added GGBET UA’s CEO. “Bookmakers boost interest in esports betting among sports fans. We can see that even conservative bettors who bet on football or tennis are taking an interest in Counter-Strike, League of Legends, and others.” 

Smaller events in Counter-Strike, where less viewers watch for the sake of the gameplay itself, are driven by gambling as bettors make up a notable part of their viewership numbers. Gambling sponsors also make up a large part of tournament revenues. “Stable investments help tournament operators to ramp up the scale and audience appeal,” Voshkarin continued. “As well as increase the prize funds of competitions.”

The betting industry has also affected more than just teams and tournaments in esports, with broadcasts and content often geared around betting. Some esports broadcasts will feature the betting odds of matches in the preview or whilst the game is ongoing. 

“By offering creative activities, show matches, original streams, and other fun events, we’re expanding the borders of the esports community. So, bookmakers don’t just act as sponsors – they help shape and develop the culture of esports,” Voshkarin concluded, as evidenced by unique activations like the Match of LeGGends showmatch.

Overall the betting industry has had a huge effect on esports in general, in terms of viewership, monetary value, and the way that broadcasts are now run. 

Bookmakers and data providers form an important part of an exciting industry, together with the other stakeholders explored in this three-part series. 

We hope we’ve helped shed a bit of light on esports behind the broadcast — from the tournaments, to the teams, to the staff, to the third party service providers that make the esports industry what it is.

Dafydd Gwynn

Supported by GG.BET