Esports, or electronic sports, is a term used to describe competitive video gaming. It involves professional players or teams competing against each other in popular video games such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Fortnite. Esports has rapidly grown in popularity over the past decade, with millions of people tuning in to watch professional tournaments and matches. The rise of online streaming platforms such as Twitch and YouTube has made it easier for fans to watch and engage with their favorite esports teams and players.
As the popularity of esports has grown, so has the interest from businesses and organizations looking to sponsor teams and events. One notable industry that has shown interest in esports sponsorship is the casino industry. Casinos have been traditionally associated with gambling and traditional sports sponsorships. However, with the growing popularity of esports, casinos have identified a new and potentially lucrative avenue for sponsorship. Many casinos have recognized the potential benefits of sponsoring esports teams, including increased brand recognition and engagement with a younger demographic that is increasingly interested in video games and esports.
Esports has been around for several decades, with the first recorded competitive gaming tournament taking place in 1972 at Stanford University, where students competed against each other in a game called Spacewar. However, it wasn’t until the late 1990s and early 2000s that esports began to gain significant popularity, particularly in South Korea. The country’s advanced internet infrastructure and cultural obsession with gaming helped turn esports into a mainstream phenomenon, with professional gamers earning salaries and attracting large crowds to tournaments.
Since then, esports has continued to grow in popularity, both in Asia and around the world. Major esports tournaments and leagues, such as the League of Legends World Championship and the Overwatch League, now attract millions of viewers and offer significant prize pools. The industry has also evolved to include a range of games, from first-person shooters and strategy games to sports simulations and fighting games.
The growth of esports in recent years has been nothing short of remarkable. According to a report by Newzoo, a market research firm, the global esports market was valued at $1.08 billion in 2019, with revenues expected to reach $1.62 billion by 2024. The report also found that there were approximately 443 million esports viewers worldwide in 2019, with that number projected to increase to 595 million by 2024.
In terms of sponsorship and advertising revenue, esports has also seen significant growth. The same report by Newzoo found that sponsorship and advertising revenues accounted for approximately 76% of the total esports market revenue in 2019, with this figure expected to reach 84% by 2024. Major brands such as Coca-Cola, Nike, and BMW have all sponsored esports teams and events in recent years, further highlighting the industry’s growing mainstream appeal.
A. Overview of sponsorship in esports:
Sponsorship is a major source of revenue for esports teams and events. Brands sponsor esports teams and events in order to reach a younger, tech-savvy audience that is difficult to reach through traditional advertising channels. In return, esports teams and events receive financial support and increased visibility, which can help them attract more fans and sponsors.
There are several types of sponsorships available for esports teams, including:
- Team sponsorships: Companies can sponsor a specific esports team, providing financial support, equipment, and branding opportunities.
- Event sponsorships: Companies can sponsor specific esports events, providing financial support and branding opportunities at the event.
- Influencer sponsorships: Companies can sponsor individual esports players or influencers, providing financial support in exchange for endorsements and brand visibility.
- Broadcast sponsorships: Companies can sponsor the live streams of esports events, providing financial support in exchange for advertising opportunities during the broadcast.
- Some notable examples of current sponsorships in esports include:
- Red Bull: The energy drink company sponsors several esports teams, including Cloud9 and OG, and has also sponsored major events such as the Red Bull SoloQ tournament.
- Intel: The technology company sponsors several esports events and leagues, including the Intel Extreme Masters and the Intel Grand Slam.
- Nissan: The car manufacturer sponsors the League of Legends European Championship and has also sponsored individual esports players.
- Logitech: The computer peripherals company sponsors several esports teams and events, providing equipment and branding opportunities.
These examples illustrate the range of companies and industries that are investing in esports sponsorship, and the various types of sponsorships available to them.
A. Explanation of the similarities between esports and traditional sports:
There are several similarities between esports and traditional sports that make esports an attractive sponsorship opportunity for casinos. Both esports and traditional sports involve competition, strategy, and teamwork. They also both attract passionate fan bases who are willing to invest time and money into watching their favorite teams and players compete.
Sponsoring esports teams can offer several potential benefits for casinos. Firstly, sponsoring esports teams can help casinos reach a younger demographic that is increasingly interested in video games and esports. This demographic is often difficult to reach through traditional marketing channels and can be a valuable target market for casinos looking to attract new customers.
Secondly, sponsoring esports teams can help casinos increase their brand recognition and exposure. esports tournaments and events attract millions of viewers, many of whom are passionate about their favorite teams and players. By sponsoring an esports team, a casino can get its branding in front of these viewers and potentially attract new customers.
Sponsoring esports teams can also help casinos establish themselves as a supporter of emerging and innovative industries. This can help to enhance the casino’s reputation and appeal to a wider audience. As for now, Collegian made a list of the top casinos sponsoring esports teams and events, which can be found on their website. These examples illustrate the growing interest from casinos in sponsoring esports and the potential benefits that this sponsorship can bring.
Several casinos have already recognized the potential benefits of sponsoring esports teams and have begun to invest in this emerging industry. For example, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has sponsored several esports events in recent years, including the League of Legends Championship Series. In addition, the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas has sponsored several esports teams, including Team SoloMid and Counter Logic Gaming.
Discussion of concerns related to the relationship between casinos and gambling addiction:
One of the main concerns with casino sponsorship in esports is the potential for an increased risk of gambling addiction among young gamers. Since casinos are associated with gambling, their sponsorship of esports teams and events could lead to an increase in gambling-related problems among vulnerable individuals. This concern is especially relevant considering that many esports fans are minors, and may not fully understand the implications of gambling.
Explanation of the ethical concerns related to casino sponsorship in esports:
Another concern related to casino sponsorship in esports is the ethical implications of promoting gambling-related products to young and impressionable audiences. Some critics argue that casinos are taking advantage of the popularity of esports to promote their brand and increase their revenue, without considering the potential negative consequences of their actions.
To address concerns related to the relationship between casinos and gambling addiction, it may be necessary to implement strict regulations and guidelines related to gambling promotion in esports. For example, rules could be put in place to ensure that gambling-related promotions are only targeted to individuals who are of legal gambling age. Additionally, regulations could be implemented to ensure that gambling promotions are not presented in a way that glamorizes or normalizes gambling behavior.
To address ethical concerns related to casino sponsorship in esports, it may be necessary to establish ethical guidelines for sponsors in this industry. These guidelines could be developed in collaboration with key stakeholders, including esports organizations, players, and fans. These guidelines could include provisions related to transparency, responsible sponsorship, and social responsibility.
Discussion of the potential positive and negative implications of casino sponsorship in esports:
While there are concerns and criticisms related to casino sponsorship in esports, it is important to recognize that this sponsorship can also have positive implications for the industry. For example, casino sponsorship can provide much-needed financial support for esports teams and events, helping to increase the overall quality and visibility of the industry. Additionally, casino sponsorship can help to legitimize esports as a mainstream sport, increasing its appeal to a wider audience.
On the other hand, there are also potential negative implications of casino sponsorship in esports. For example, if not properly regulated, casino sponsorship could lead to an increased risk of gambling addiction among young gamers. Additionally, casino sponsorship could be perceived as exploitative by some audiences, who may view it as an attempt to take advantage of a vulnerable demographic.
In conclusion, esports is a rapidly growing industry that is attracting the interest of a wide range of sponsors, including casinos. While the potential benefits of casino sponsorship in esports are clear, there are also concerns and criticisms related to the relationship between casinos and gambling addiction, as well as the ethical implications of promoting gambling to young audiences.
As esports continues to grow in popularity, it will be important for all stakeholders to carefully consider the potential positive and negative implications of casino sponsorship in this emerging industry. With proper oversight and regulation, casino sponsorship in esports could be a mutually beneficial partnership that helps to support the growth of this exciting and innovative industry.