GameCo – How America Got Its First Exclusive Esports Sportsbook

What is a sportsbook?

A sportsbook is a centralized collection of betting opportunities. The term is mostly used to describe the “menu” of an online betting site. Odds pages and lists of sports are both considered parts of the sportsbook. Betting sites are built around their sportsbooks; coverage and betting options are two of the most important factors for attracting new gamblers. 

A centralized betting service is also beneficial to consumers. They reduce the need for multiple accounts across sites, so long-term bettors particularly benefit from sportsbooks.

The rise of video games hasn’t gone unnoticed by traditional sports betting sites. Many of the most popular betting sites now include competitive video gaming in their sportsbooks. The recent push is fueled by multiple factors, including the 2020 pandemic and increasing access to consumer technology worldwide.

What factors pushed the betting industry to incorporate esports?

While online esports betting had been available for a few years, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic greatly encouraged the adoption of esports. The cancellation of several sports leagues spurred the existing traditional sports betting industry to integrate gaming. Many sites already had the existing user base and infrastructure, while others developed standalone esports-only alternatives. In early 2021, both dedicated esports sportsbooks and hybrid betting sites are common choices.

Esports weathered the pandemic primarily due to online play. Esports teams can compete digitally, meaning that regional events continued to exist throughout the year. In-person competition is normally a major part of esports, and international competition is often prominently displayed in a website’s sportsbook. Esports continued its trend of insane year-over-year growth in 2020.

Unsurprisingly, sports simulation titles like Madden and FIFA grew the most in 2020. Their rulesets mimic those of traditional sports, so football and basketball fans have an easy time converting. Fans of the NFL or NBA are also more likely to play or be interested in their respective video games.

How will a sportsbook affect esports betting?

Offering esports betting options requires more effort from oddsmakers than traditional sports. Esports group stages and brackets can feature multiple stages of on-the-fly matchups determined just hours before they begin. Events can be announced sporadically, with rosters not solidified until the group stage. Odds calculation is also still a matter of debate, though the technology is rapidly progressing.

From a consumer’s perspective, a sportsbook serves as a centralized place for betting to occur. Esports bettors are similar to their traditional counterparts in that they both tend to bet across multiple sports. A League of Legends bettor might want to place bets on VALORANT between major League tournaments. A sportsbook allows them to continue using the same site for both games. The quantity of esports available is the most important factor for consumers choosing a sportsbook. Many esports fans follow a mix of titles, and a sportsbook without both PUBG Mobile and World of Warcraft will lose business to any site that covers that specific combination. 

While coverage is paramount, several obstacles are preventing every website from adding every game. The previous problems with short-notice scheduling and pace are compounded by the lack of precedence for esports odds creation. If the esports industry is known for one thing, it’s its willingness to embrace new technology. Most betting sites have adopted that same mindset, and these are seen as challenges to overcome rather than roadblocks for esports betting.

Overview and Analysis of GameCo’s sportsbook

One of the most significant strides in esports gambling was the announcement of America’s first physical esports sportsbook. Created by GameCo, the in-person gambling platform will be partnered with GRID, Askott Gaming, and other organizations to facilitate the evolving landscape of esports gambling. GameCo is also partnered with the Esports Integrity Commission, the most respected anti-cheating institution in gaming. These partnerships bring a new level of professionalism to video game gambling.

The sportsbook will first be available at Colorado’s Sky Ute Casino Resort with plans to expand throughout the United States. The physicality of esports has been largely absent in 2020. The betting industry’s first esports-focused sportsbook will bring it back in a big way.

Written by Kenneth Williams

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