Esports betting is not just a FAD but an industry trend here for the long haul. There are many reasons why the game enjoys widespread appeal in Korea. First, many people in the country follow esports events and always yearn to put their cash where their 'mouth' is. In addition, the dynamic nature of the game where things change in a matter of minutes makes esports events highly lucrative for punters.
Esports betting gained prominence in the Korean online gaming landscape soon after esports were officially recognized as an official sport. At first, there was no clear indication that the esports betting industry would grow astronomically, considering that betting operators were also reluctant to cover esports markets.
For starters, many factors seemed to hinder the growth of esports betting. Key among the reasons given was that the eSports industry was largely unregulated, and cases of match-fixing were a norm. Moreover, esports were mostly associated with the youthful population, most of whom were below the age of majority and could not place wagers.
As the esports' following continued soaring to new heights, the viewership and the prize pools also grew astronomically. This also meant that there was huge potential in the gambling industry. International bookmakers were quick to respond to grasp the opportunity. Also, smart punters saw these developments as opportunities to them. Things have been changing fast, and the esports industry is more organized than before.
Esports Nowadays in Korea
Present-day eSports is a fan phenomenon in South Korea. From its humble beginnings featuring armature players, the eSports industry has grown exponentially into multiple leagues with licensed programmers, supported by millions of fans, not just in Korea but across the world. The key drivers behind the rapid growth of the eSports betting industry include:
- Advanced infrastructure developments such as the internet favor eSports
- The Korean Government supports and regulates eSports
- Big Korean brands such as Samsung are actively involved in supporting eSports
- Collaboration with the media where eSports competitions are broadcasted live
Initially, Only young esports enthusiasts thought that major sportsbooks should include online esports betting markets. However, things have since changed, and online operators are well aware of this niche market's potential.
Today, the esports betting industry commands billions of dollars. The volume of punters betting on major eSports events keeps increasing, and so do the prize pools. 2021 went down in history as the year of records in eSports viewership when the League of Legends Worlds 2021 became the most-watched event in eSports history.
South Koreans can now barely differentiate esports from traditional sports. Esports are undoubtedly way ahead of conventional sports. This, in a way, gives a glimpse of what the future holds; esports are here to stay.
Future of esports betting in Korea
Esports experienced significant growth in Korea during the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid expansion could represent a major opportunity for esports betting operators in Korea. While it might be hard to predict what the future holds with certainty, there is every reason to suggest that eSports could soon be able to compete with major sporting events in the coming years.
With millions watching esports events, the number of companies looking to sponsor esports is likely to increase. And sportsbooks could soon be quick to grab this opportunity, pumping in more money into the industry.
Lastly, though there are no signs that the Korean government might legalize online banking, likely, they could soon rethink their hard stance looking at the size of this industry.