It’s becoming increasingly common across sporting events to see betting and casino operators as the sponsors of teams and of events as names appear on jerseys and adverts, something that may not have been possible in the past due to either funding, lack of scalability, or other industries just being too big to challenge. Esports was able to become the perfect proving ground for this change, however, without many of the big sponsors that make up traditional sporting it provided an option for these growing operators to emerge in this space.
Change had first started to emerge in 2015 notably with the popular esports title of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the introduction of loot boxes and the ability to trade vanity items in-game for real cash and developed a unique betting market that was still very unique to this game, it provided the groundwork for growing operators in this space and in many regards was the reason why betting was able to emerge as quickly as it did – whilst 2016 would see the change of the original platform that offered money for in-game vanity items as the developers of the game outlawed the practice and made it much more difficult to accomplish, new sites would emerge in the more traditional sense.
Soon after some of the bigger names in the betting space saw the potential in the growing esports space with billions in revenue being generated over the first couple of years, and with viewer numbers increasing dramatically and starting to rival traditional sporting events, and now the operators that have been onboard since the beginning of the growth seen in esports are the biggest sponsors for both events and teams which has helped even further. Most of the big names have only been involved in the esports betting space since around 2015 and 2016 too, so bookmakers are still quite new and developing the best methods to appeal to a typically quite different audience.
For the time being many of the big bookmakers will still remain as the biggest contributors and sponsors, but with attention growing outside of the niche community that is something starting to change over time, especially now that large tech companies are becoming more represented and even those in automobile and drinks companies too with Honda and Kia being well represented in the east and Coca-Cola and Red Bull being increasingly represented in the west too.