New Research Shows eSports Betting Market Primed For Breakout Year

Published: Aug 20, 2015 - Last Updated: Jun 5, 2020

A new report from Eilers Research projects that the esports betting market is a huge potential growth industry, with estimates of total wagering exceeding $20 billion within five years.

The report, available via Eilers’ website, is called “eSports Betting: It’s Real, and Bigger Than You Think.”

Esports betting, under the radar, until now

Eilers Senior Consultant Chris Grove talks about the esports betting industry, and why it’s suddenly prepared to come into its own:

“While much has been written about esports’ cultural and economic explosion, little has been written about the nascent industry surrounding fan wagering on eSports. eSports betting has remained under the radar due to low visibility into the financial performance of the product and a mainstream blind spot regarding the very existence of such activity. Both forces are starting to subside.”

The takeaway from the research? There are a confluence of factors that mean the eSports betting market could take off, and in very short order. More from Grove:

“Our high-level conclusion: eSports is an extremely hospitable environment (technologically, logistically, culturally and demographically) for real-money online wagering. Penetration of eSports betting into the gamer community and general growth of eSports betting has each been dampened to date by structural barriers that are now weakening. Concurrently, eSports betting is beginning to benefit from tailwinds generated by positive macro trends for both eSports and the broader online gambling industry.”

Different vehicles for eSports betting

There is already a vibrant market for capturing eSports wagering. There are currently a number of different platforms for eSports bettors to be acquired, as the Eilers research notes:

Three startups this year — AlphaDraft and Vulcun in fantasy eSports, and Unikrn in sports betting — have raised nearly $30 million in investments. Clearly, venture capitalists believe in the market, which is one reason for a bullish outlook on the eSports betting industry.

The last of those — game-mediated betting — is a huge market, but is not included in Eilers’ analysis.

While customer acquisition could be looked at as something that could slow the growth of eSports betting, the cost of acquiring customers should be fairly low, for a variety of reasons, according to the Eilers report.

By the numbers, on eSports bettors

Already, there has been considerable momentum behind esports betting. Eilers estimates that there are more than 2 million paid actives between eSports betting and fantasy eSports, with that number set to experience 10x growth.

But there’s also plenty of data out there that lends itself to believing that the growth in the Eilers report is sustainable. The reasons are at least threefold.

Sheer numbers

First, there’s a solid and growing legion of eSports viewers, providing a huge prospective pool of bettors:

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 3.39.01 PM

The money

Then, there is the consideration that eSports viewers and players have money to spend:

U.S. eSports players

Already betting

There are also a solid number of those viewers and players who are already betting. Consider:

Not without risk

The prospects for eSports betting, as good as it looks from a lot of angles, are not guaranteed.

Eilers sums up some of the circumstances that could crop up that would stunt eSports betting’s growth:

Realizing the eSports betting opportunity requires successful navigation through a number of existential threats. Game integrity is the most obvious and compelling of those threats. The early-stage nature of eSports invites corruption […] We also note that an answer to the open question of how gambling regulators will ultimately approach eSports betting could have profound implications on the market’s potential.

Still, even with potential problems at every corner, the eSports betting market might be a huge portion of the online sports betting sector before the end of the decade. And that would be amazing growth, considering the market didn’t even really exist at the start of the decade.

Dustin Gouker

Since: August 10, 2015

Dustin Gouker has worked for more than 15 years in the world of sports journalism, with stops at the Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. An ardent lifelong poker player, Dustin also writes about the rapidly growing DFS industry at

See all articles from this author