You may not have heard of esports. But you are likely to in the future. While they didn't even exist 10 years ago, they have become big business. And in 2020 the amount wagered on them is expected to double and become $14 billion worldwide up from just under $7 billion in 2019.
That's an explosive rate of growth for something that is so new and alien to many betters. People are used to betting on actual sports – Giants vs. Jets, for example. But esports are something else entirely.
Esports are essentially video games. The most popular competition is the Call Of Duty League where players play against each other. Esports betters wager on who will win. Also popular are Counterstrike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, Dota 2, iRacing, and Overwatch League (OWL).
What's interesting is that unlike traditional sports players don't have to compete in the same arena. You can have a guy at his home in Japan playing another guy in his home in Detroit.
Still just like real sports the players get sponsors. They have agents. They are recruited into the game. They don't train by doing push-ups or running laps. They train by practicing on their PlayStations and Xboxes over and over again.
Nobody even six years ago would have predicted that esports would become so popular in the betting community. But they have. Whenever you have $14 billion being bet on something you know people are paying close attention to it.
Esports is expected to continue to grow in the coming years. It's possible it might see $20 billion in bets in 2021. If so, that will cut into revenue for actual sports. After all, every dollar bet on esports is a dollar you can't bet on your local Knicks game.
It will be interesting to take a look at esports as they continue to grow. Whether they will hit a wall in growth potential or be like traditional sports and just keep growing is a question that is up for grabs. What is certain is that esports have certainly arrived as a force to be reckoned with.