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The founder of a new esports betting operator – which has nabbed the esportsbetting.com domain – suggested the format will develop organically despite the sometimes faltering steps made to date by pioneers such as Betway, Pinnacle and Unikrn.
Benjamin Bradtke, previously marketing manager at Berlin-based esports data provider DOJO Madness, said that the concept of betting on esports “needs to be given time.”
“It all started with the big three games and now new games are popping up, more events take place, the prize pools and player salaries increase,” he said. “As esports continue to grow and professionalize, so will esports betting.”
Aware of the debate around whether esports is a form of betting that needs a dedicated offering in order to best attract the evident audience for esports, Bradtke says esportsbetting.com offers a new dimension to the argument.
“I prefer to call our proposition esports-first,” he said. “We have built a product experience 100 percent aimed at gamers, as opposed to classic bookmakers, where it is just one of 30 sports offered. Every decision we make is based on whether it adds value to gamers.”
He points out that the “main difference” between esports and other sports lies in the infrastructure and what this means for the consequent odds offerings.
“In football, everyone has access to data and can offer reliable betting markets,” he added. “With esports, we face a more clustered situation where exclusive data deals have a very different weight. Ultimately this poses a challenge for operators aiming at offering a reliable betting experience.”
Exclusive arrangement such as exist between Sportradar and leading esports league ESL are common in esports. While an analogous fractured data landscape has developed in traditional sports, the difference is that an evolved network of official and unofficial data provision has resulted in a space where basic access to data is more available to all.
The Bradtke prescription for professionalizing esports:
Integrity is a priority for esportsbetting.com, with the company announcing a partnership with the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC). Bradtke pointed out that he believes that it is the challenge of matching traditional operators in this area which forms one of the hurdles for the format.
“While the traditional betting industry and classic sports have had many years to develop their relationship, the esports betting market is quite young,” he said. “After the scandals that we saw with skin betting, and the rise of offshore betting, it is time to establish a standard at the crossroads of innovation and integrity when it comes to esports betting.”
To further bolster the site’s credentials, esportsbetting.com utilizes the Betradar data service that is in part provided in conjunction with Bradtke’s old employer, DOJO Madness.
“From previous experience, I know that DOJO/Betradar are doing a good job,” he added.
“When it comes to establishing integrity, we are focused on only offering betting markets we deem secure with established organizers and access to data. We will not cover every event, and we won’t offer live betting on massively delayed data. We will hold player funds within the EU, rather than offshore, to guarantee safety.”
Esportsbetting.com launches under a Maltese license but the company would be seeking further individual country licenses throughout Europe in due course.
Bradtke said that the company is also employing state-of-the-art customer verification tools to prevent underage gambling.
“Transparency and trust are critical to the market, and I believe we should all have higher standards for our customers’ benefit and also for the way esports betting is perceived,” he said.
ESIC has been keen to emphasize its role in educating players as to the issues of match-fixing and the integrity.
“I do think that there is a significant educational element when it comes to integrity,” he said.
“While we see this educational framework in traditional sports, esports is still in a growth phase where these things need to be addressed. I believe the formation of organizations like ESIC are leading the way when it comes to establishing the framework for a code of conduct for league, organizations and betting companies.”
The move to immediately join ESIC was welcomed by integrity commissioner Ian Smith, who said the company would help sustain its anti-corruption education work.
“Most importantly, the more integrity-conscious betting operators we partner with, the less opportunity there is for unscrupulous illegal operators to get a foothold in the market.”
The company has backing from Frontloop Media, an iGaming start-up consultancy which also has interests in a number of online gambling startups including Wetten.com, MobileBet and SuomiKasino.
The site will offer a wide range of pre-match and in-play betting opportunities across all major titles including League of Legends, CS:GO, Dota2, Overwatch, and PUBG and will cover a wide range of global events.