Will Esports Betting Surpass Sports Betting in Popularity?

Esports betting has become a hot topic in the gambling world. Thanks to the widespread growth of esports, this type of betting is now extremely popular.

Of course, it still pales in comparison to sports gambling. The latter has the advantage of existing for decades or, in an unregulated sense, millenniums.

But esports gambling has grown exponentially within the last five years. Once rarely available at online sportsbooks, it’s now featured on the homepages.

Given the rise of competitive gaming, it’s worth wondering if esports wagering will surpass sports gambling regarding betting volume. I’ll cover this matter by discussing more on esports’ popularity and what could propel it to new heights.

The Growth of Esports

Any casual observer can see that esports have grown immensely popular within the past few years. Gaming is now featured on ESPN and other mainstream media outlets.

But exactly just how popular have esports become? Data from Roundhill Investments shows that competitive gaming has already passed traditional sports regarding viewership.

Roundhill cautions that the comparison between esports and athletic sports isn’t apples to apples. The former still has lots of “occasional viewers,” who only tune in once a month or less.

Nevertheless, 233 million fans are in the “enthusiast” category, meaning they watch more than once a month. Newzoo expects this figure to reach 297 million by 2022.

Esports differ from regular sports because they’re not bound to a certain region. Instead, they attract a truly global audience that stretches from Siberia to California.

Contrast this to baseball, basketball, cricket, football, and soccer, which are more popular in some countries/continents than others.

Bookmakers Have Taken Notice of Esports

Sportsbooks are in the business of providing lines on whatever their customers will wager on. They’ll offer lines on table tennis if they get enough interest.

Therefore, internet bookmakers have had no trouble adding esports into the mix. After all, the latter is drawing countless streaming viewers.

The betting world once turned its nose up at sports betting. However, it has definitely changed his tune over the past decade.

Today, you’ll have a difficult time finding a sports gambling site that doesn’t offer video-game lines. This is especially the case when it comes to primetime events, such as Dota 2’s “The International” or League of Legends’ “World Championship.”

But bookmakers don’t need a major championship just to offer esports betting. They provide esports lines on smaller events and leagues too.

Health Crisis Boosted Esports Betting

Esports gambling was already drawing enough bettors up until the health situation around the world began causing fears and shutting sports leagues down. It’s gotten an even bigger boost following the virus spread.

Bookmakers had little to offer gamblers while the NBA, NHL, and college basketball were shut down in the spring 2020. They started pumping table tennis during this period for a lack of better options.

Esports were a natural fit for betting with traditional sports leagues sidelined. Already popular at this point, competitive gaming took center stage during the pandemic.

Sports leagues have now returned to action. Nevertheless, the boost that esports gambling got during the spring has had long-term effects. Some of the new spring fans are sticking with this type of wagering.

Traditional Sports Still Rule the Betting Industry

The rise of esports wagering is an interesting story. However, it still has a long ways to go before attaining the clout that traditional sports have.

People have been wagering on athletic contests since the Ancient Greeks held the first Olympics. The betting world has only become larger and more refined over the millenniums.

People collectively wager billions of dollars on baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and college sports. They especially bet big when it comes to marquee events, such as the Super Bowl, World Series, and NBA Finals.

Again, the sports world slowed down considerably. However, most leagues will eventually get back into the swing of things.

For the time being, it doesn’t look like esports are set to surpass regular sports in terms of gambling volume. The latter has too much history and massive fan bases to be passed right now.

Esports Gambling Still Has Untapped Potential

Esports have been around for a lot longer than people realize. The very first gaming tournament was held at Stanford University in 1972.

In many ways, though, competitive gaming is just now starting to reach its potential. Tournaments and leagues are drawing more viewers than ever before, while players are receiving their highest salaries yet.

Amazingly, esports have yet to truly reach their potential. Nobody really knows just how much gaming can grow in the future.

A possibility exists that esports could actually pass athletic sports in betting activity. Of course, we won’t know if this is the case until it actually happens.

Esports Betting May Pass Sports Gambling For 3 Reasons

Esports’ ability to pass traditional sports in terms of gambling is far from certain. However, it does stand a chance of doing so based on the following three reasons.

1 – Young Viewers Will Join the Betting Pool

The average sports fan falls into the middle-aged or even senior category. The average NFL fan is 47 years old, for example, and the typical MLB fan is even older at 53 years of age.

By comparison, esports fans are much younger. The average esports enthusiast is only 26 years old. Given this younger demographic, it’s no surprise that esports have plenty of fans who aren’t even old enough to bet.

Eventually, the same gaming enthusiast will be old enough to gamble. When this happens, they’ll increase the number of available bettors.

What’s more is that esports will continually produce more young fans who’ll start placing wagers. The same younger generations may not be so keen on wagering money on athletic sports.

2 – Esports Are Perfectly Suited for the Digital Age

A few decades ago, the options for placing wagers were quite limited. You could either find a legal sportsbook in Las Vegas or place bets with an underground bookie.

Things have changed greatly in this regard today due to online betting. You can easily find an online sportsbook no matter where you live and start making wagers.

Many bettors have acclimated themselves to this style of gambling. However, a few holdovers who enjoy visiting sportsbooks and betting shops (UK) still do things the old-fashioned way.

Esports, on the other hand, isn’t an old-fashioned type of competition. It appeals to young gamblers who’ve grown up in the digital age and exclusively place wagers online.

3 – Video Game Market Is Growing

Video games might seem like they’re to the point where they can’t grow any further. After all, billions of people around the globe buy console, computer, and mobile games.

Considering how many people enjoy gaming, it’s no surprise that some of the same players also tune into esports. Amazingly, though, the amount of video-game players and, subsequently, esports fans only figures to grow.

Data from Grandview Research shows that game sales will continue increasing over the next several years.

The global game market was valued at $167.5 billion in 2020. The market is expected to grow at a 12.9% rate each year from 2020 to 2027. By the end of this range, global game sales could hit $291.16 billion.

Around half of these sales will occur in the global market. The other half, though, will be spread throughout console and computer markets—both of which comprise the esports industry.

Again, casual fans can turn into esports enthusiasts and start betting on the pros. That said, more video-game sales will lead to more competitive gaming fans.


Esports betting is currently behind traditional sports gambling by a wide margin. However, esports are growing at an accelerated rate regarding viewership and popularity.

They already draw more global viewers than sports when accounting for both TV and live-streaming services. Esports just don’t have the type of enthusiasts, though, who regularly bet on matches.

But this situation could change in the next decade or so. Esports have untapped potential and keep drawing new fans with each passing year. They also attract younger fans who aren’t even old enough to bet.

In summary, the jury is out on whether esports gambling will ever become more popular than athletic sports betting. However, the chance does exist that esports betting will reign supreme in the future.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016.

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