Esports undeniably remains one of the largest and fastest-growing participation and viewing sports on Earth. Nearly half a billion play titles like Counter-Strike or League of Legends, watch packed Twitch streams as others do, or do both.
It’s teens and 20-somethings, as expected. And, it’s Gen X, the first generation fascinated and hooked on those first rudimentary video games.
People play it. They watch it. And, whether they’d bet on it has been a source of conjecture since wagering on anything outside of Nevada became a possibility with the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2024. That speculation continues, and it’s bullish.
A recent study by Absolute Reports pegged the value of the global esports betting market at $23.76 billion by 2028. The report concludes that value was at $10.03 billion in 2021, projecting a 13.1% growth rate over the next six years. In the United States, the esports betting market is expected to be worth $21.18 million by 2028.
What is the state of esports betting in the United States?
So far, 13 states have legalized wagering on esports, spurred in 2020 by the shutdown of traditional American sports during COVID-19 lockdowns. Those states are Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.
Maybe that was a hedge against future calamity. But it maybe has done wonders for introducing esports betting to the uninitiated. “If another pandemic were to happen in a few years’ time, I think a lot more suppliers and operators and betting companies will have an esports offering in place, just for the simple fact of making sure if nothing else is on, esports will be on,” Mark Balch, head of product and partnerships at Bayes Esports Solutions, a joint venture of Sportradar and Bayes Holding said in 2020. “And even at different times of the day, esports is played globally 24/7. And, there’s no real physical limitation.”
Regulating esports betting is more difficult than with other sports
Esports betting has been a difficult prospect for regulators and operators for years because the complex nature of the competitions doesn’t easily mesh with laws written to govern sports played outside the virtual realm. One sticking point is whether game publishers would need to be licensed as sportsbooks. They don’t want that.
Another is whether esports enthusiasts will even want it. Players have grown up in an era of loot boxes, but there’s no guarantee that wagering on esports would interest them. If recreational players don’t want to bet on it, would the general public? And if not, would the effort be worth it for operators outside of another cataclysmic event like the pandemic?
And, hovering over all of it is a matter of integrity. In a completely tech-dependent sport happening in real-time, there would be great difficulty in policing a square deal.
Fliff could introduce players to esports until their state legalizes wagering
Although sports betting is currently legal in 34 U.S. jurisdictions, some very large states – California, Florida, and Texas – remain out of the game. That’s for regular sports and esports. Until sports betting is legalized there, alternatives, options like the Fliff sports betting app, can serve as both a stop-gap and a way for newcomers to learn their way around a sportsbook app.
Fliff, a so-called social gaming app, doesn’t pay out real money but simulates a complete sports betting experience by using coins as rewards for wins and acquiring prizes. Players can either buy coins with a deposit or use money accrued from betting to succeed to acquire them. Again, real money isn’t paid out for winning, making Fliff legal in places like California, Texas, and Florida.