The esports industry is enjoying spectacular growth. Eight years after its launch, popular title Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) boasts competitive events with prize pools surpassing $1 million.
As esports competitions grow in popularity, they’re crossing important milestones. And few of those milestones are as important as attracting gambling revenue.
In Europe, esports betting has been the norm for a long time, but not so much across the Atlantic. That’s why it’s such a monumental achievement to see the state of Nevada allow sportsbooks to begin offering CS: GO betting alongside “traditional” sports events.
This is another step on the road to esports earning its well-deserved recognition as a “real” sport.
Whether you think gambling is good or bad largely depends on your perspective. You may have moral or religious objections to the pastime, or you may have a bad experience with it. But for many, gambling is a harmless and fun hobby .
And sports has always been a core pillar of the gambling industry. Betting makes up an estimated 30 to 40 percent of the global gambling market . If esports is ever going to achieve mainstream legitimacy, games like CS: GO need access to these lucrative betting markets.
That’s not to say esports competitions aren’t legitimate without gambling. But outsiders won’t see it that way as long as professional esports leagues are treated differently than other major sports.
Skeptics might ask why “mainstream” legitimacy even matters. Esports leagues have survived without it for years.
But the truth is that CS: GO leagues could never offer those $1 million prize pools without outside investment and sponsorships.
Without mainstream credibility and advertiser cash, those deals never happen. We don’t see those massive esports stadiums, and we don’t see much financial support for professional gamers either.
The esports industry can only grow so far without new revenue streams. Without broad access to sportsbooks and other betting markets, that growth is going to slam into a brick wall. To break through, the industry needs to be seen as legitimate by everyone. Not just hardcore fans.