Nobody ever got rich following the crowd. And in the US market, one way to go against the flow could be to embrace esports betting.
As multi-billion dollar giants like FanDuel and DraftKings duke it out on mainstream sports, esports offers a “blue ocean” of opportunity, according to one MGM Resorts exec.
Lovell Walker, head of esports at MGM, said esports betting had “unknown upside” because no one has really taken time to figure out the sector.
“The upside is the potential to own an entirely new market,” Walker said. “Sports bettors are not esports bettors. One is a sushi eater and the other is eating steak. But no-one is going after the sushi eater right now. There’s an opportunity there. It’s a matter of who wants to take that leap and play in the blue ocean. Who wants to do the work to own the space.”
Lots of work to do on esports
Walker accepted that operators across the US still had a lot of work to do to ramp up esports betting.
He admitted that even during the sport lockdown, bettors had only “tentatively” embraced the vertical. Part of that is lack of availability. Nevada and New Jersey sports betting regulators still need to approve individual esports events for betting. And other states have not yet embraced it.
But there’s also a general lack of knowledge on the sector, Walker said.
“We need to do a lot of education before normal bettors bet on esports,” he said. “That’s because it’s so complex, with so many categories and titles and rules. The vernacular alone is difficult to pick up.”
How operators can grow esports betting
To overcome these education barriers, Walker recommended “owning” one specific title or game category, and focusing all efforts on that. And in a similar vein, he recommended working with an existing influencer connected to a specific title.
“That’s a layup,” Walker added. “That’s an easy way in. And that way you don’t have to bend your brand. Because that influencer has already said ‘this brand is authentic enough.’”
In fact, Walker suggested Barstool Sports may have a leg up in this area thanks to the streaming efforts of Barstool Big Cat on NCAA Football.
“It would be very easy to make esports betting a part of that,” Walker said. “There’s definitely an opportunity here. Don’t be afraid to explore further would be my advice.”
Walker spoke on an esports panel at the SBC Digital Summit North America.