As esports grows, so too do its sponsorships

Albert Sheng • October 22, 01:57

The esports industry is one of the fastest growing industries today. For the first time, the total annual revenue of the entire esports ecosystem will exceed $1 billion in 2021. Revenues have been projected to surpass $1.6 billion in 2024

The growth of the industry is reflected in viewership and mainstream visibility, as well as sponsorship agreements. Behind the top teams and events are some of largest companies in the world. For example, multi-game organization Cloud9 has signed partnerships with companies such as BMW, AT&T and Microsoft.

According to Statista, esports’ sponsorship and media rights revenues will reach $1.2 billion in 2023.

Gambling industry firmly involved in esports sponsorships

Conventional industries are becoming more strongly involved in the sponsorship of esports, but one of the biggest supporters in the industry is the gambling industry. Esports are, in fact, sports, sports with big global tournaments and huge coverage around the world, so it makes sense that sportsbooks would offer action on them.

This has seen sportsbooks become some of the most common sponsors in esports. For example, the US-based professional esports organisation Dignitas is sponsored by publicly listed betting company Vie.gg. Vie also sponsors top esports encyclopedia Liquipedia. 

It’s not only the teams that enjoy the sponsorship dollars, but the tournament organizers as well. In Counter Strike:Global Offensive, the ESL Pro League has a partnership with 1XBet and betting sites such as Rivalry have enjoyed title sponsorship for tournaments.

Some of the other notable brands behind teams such as Fnatic, Virtus.pro, and Alliance are Parimatch, Betsafe and Betway. The value of these sponsorships already exceeds millions of dollars.

The impact of the US gambling market on esports

One of the biggest upheavals in the gambling industry right now is the opening of the U.S. market. States are legalizing online sports betting and online casinos one after another. It will be very interesting to see what will be the overall effect on esports also.

Various states allow new gambling operators to enter the newly regulated market, which offers huge opportunity. This is an chance for casinos and other operators in the industry, as well as for the whole esports ecosystem. The flow of new gambling operators to the US is brisk at the moment.

Several industry insiders are speaking to this. European casino comparison site Bojoko has opened their own US website recently also and is seeing a major surge in new casinos getting listed to their website.

“It’s very exciting times in the US gambling market as we know so many new states are opening up and accepting new online gambling operators to provide their products. We are seeing this first-hand as we are beginning to work with several new casinos entering the market. I’m sure the pace of new casinos joining the market and our platform also will only accelerate in the coming years.” Bojoko head of casino Christoffer Ødegården said.

The U.S. gambling market is estimated to grow to as much as 262 billion in annual revenue by 2026.

The impact of this isn’t just being felt in esports, it’s reaching traditional sports as well. A well-known global betting and casino brand Unibet has already started working with two NFL teams, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mostly known from its brick and mortar casino in Las Vegas, Caesars has also signed a partnership with the Houston Texans.

When is esports’ turn?

Esports still has plenty of room to grow in the United States. Other traditional sports dominate the media field, but the younger generations will surely find their way to esports more and more in the future. In the US, the esports market is only worth a few hundred million, but is growing very rapidly.

The United States is still lagging behind gaming powers from Asia, such as China and South Korea, but the potential is vast.

Success eventually attracts partners. The fact is that the North American teams have not achieved the necessary success, often lagging behind Asian or European counterparts but also sometimes falling short against South American and Southeast Asian rivals. 

However, it is only a matter of time before the US becomes a real superpower for esports. With that, sponsorships from casino brands and non-endemic industries will reach new heights.

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