The ongoing expansion of e-sports across the globe was evident at this year’s recently held ICE London, with a dedicated focus on the sector across the ICE VOX conference agenda, world-class teams competing live on the showfloor and leading companies from established and emerging markets driving e-sports into its next phase.
According to a post-event press release from the show’s organizers, Dina Niron, advisor for FBC’s Intellectual Property Practice and former CEO of Playtech subsidiary Juego Online who took part in the e-sports sessions, believes the sector is only just getting started and the industry’s relatively new focus on e-sports wagering will be ripe for expansion as regulation across Europe continues to grow.
Focusing on the perceived myths about e-sports demographics, Niron believes that the major concerns hovering over the e-sports sector are already being tackled through a proactive and dedicated community of players and fans—something she is keen for the industry to engage with in a similar way to which gambling and betting has engaged with traditional sports fans. Reflecting on where the sector is positioned going into 2019, Niron explained: “E-sports is still seen as a relatively new phenomenon to mainstream audiences, so for operators to successfully interact with esport fans, who are mostly Millennials, it’s imperative they offer unique, tailored content which is, in turn, advertised via Millennial influencers and channels according to their expectations and in line with cutting edge technology. With so much content being generated and promoted to fans daily, there is a growing demand in e-sports for local teams and tournaments. Going forward, I see this becoming quite a key factor in the sector and expected to mirror the conventional sport template by creating loyalty with local fans and, therefore, expansion.
“E-sports wagering is a key focus for the sector and the possibilities here are already regulated territories like Malta, Isle of Man, UK and Italy, Spain and Denmark, as well as the legalizations of additional markets,” Niron added. “I envisage its growth as similar to the roll out of DFS in the U.S., in that more U.S. and European states will continue to regulate e-sports wagering, providing more potential in 2019 and beyond. At this stage, the major issues facing e-sports are cheating, match-fixing/betting fraud, doping, online attacks and boosting, but the e-sports community is trying to tackle these issues by self-regulating and setting up new voluntary organizations, such as E-sports Integrity Coalition, to regulate, supervise and, when needed, take actions and even impose sanctions.”