Not long ago, daily fantasy sports (DFS) were considered the next big thing to usurp online poker in the skill-based iGaming world. DFS has since stalled amid legal complications, but there could be a new challenger for online poker’s throne: Esports.
Having increased in popularity over the last few years, Esports are becoming more common in betting circles. Live competitions are also drawing more attendance, with over 200 million Chinese smartphone users saying that they’ve attended at least one live Esports event in the last year.
Forbes reports that the Esports market is currently worth $325 million, and it could balloon to $463 million by the end of 2016.
This isn’t quite up to the measure of online poker, given that PokerStars generates more than this in revenue by itself. But it shows that Esports are rapidly gaining popularity and should continue growing over the coming years.
But Forbes points out that Esports must overcome the challenge of little-to-no mainstream coverage. In contrast to poker, which is covered by ESPN, Esports are relegated to regional coverage and Twitch streaming. Here’s one excerpt from the article:
“Esports is similar to poker in that it has developed a culture that seems to accept the fact that spectators will place bets based on the outcomes of matches and possibly engage in fantasy sports-style play surrounding events. The industry has even started to see the development of competitors placing wagers on themselves prior to entering battle with controllers in hand.
“While poker may still be supreme, Esports is quickly catching up and displaying many positive signs that in some ways mimic poker’s successful attributes. It is only a matter of time until the Esports industry hits a total value of over $1 billion.”
It’s doubtful that Esports will ever force online poker into the background – at least any time soon. But what we probably will see is a balanced skill-based iGaming market that sees DFS, Esports, and online poker sharing the pie.