Compare.bet recently had the opportunity to catch up with Malte Hegeler, Head of Product Development at OddsMatrix to discuss the company’s decision to embrace esports betting.
In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic dealt a massive blow to the traditional gambling sector. The closure of land-based casinos, sportsbooks as well as the cancellation of almost every major sporting event in the first half of the year turned the industry on its head.
By the end of March 2020, nearly every single sporting event was either cancelled or postponed as a result of the global pandemic. Popular sporting competitions such as England’s Premier League, American college sports and national major leagues were suspended indefinitely.
Esports betting gains popularity
With almost nothing to bet on, punters turned to the world of esports betting. Although this betting market was nothing new at the time, companies that made early strides in the vertical saw their hard work pay off.
One of these companies was the B2B iGaming software provider EveryMatrix. EveryMatrix provides online gambling operators with the OddsMatrix Esports Services solution, launched in 2019.
“Esports were given an enormous boost when traditional sports were globally interrupted by the pandemic. Esports were a viable backup vertical, and as a B2B provider, we wanted to help clients adopt them as fast as possible to diversify their revenue streams,” explained Malte Hegeler, Head of Product Development at OddsMatrix.
“It was an all-hands-on-deck situation, and we focused the whole team’s efforts on increasing our coverage and live streaming capabilities. The results handsomely repaid our efforts: live events took a huge leap, from 1,000 to 50,000 per month, with live streaming available for 25,000 monthly events. Currently, our Esports Services provide 22 disciplines, including six traditional sports simulations: FIFA, NBA 2K, eHockey, eVolleyball, eTennis and eFighting.”
A new source of revenue
As well as plugging a hole in the traditional sporting calendar for punters and bookies, esports betting managed to provide a significant financial boost to companies in the esports betting space.
Hegeler described the initial impact on the market as being “outstanding”.
“When the lack of events caused punters to switch from real sports to simulation games, we saw esports turnover growing by a factor of 30. Now, while all major real sports competitions are back, turnover remains constantly around seven times higher than pre-Covid.
“This increase is obviously a result of the fact that we supplied our dedicated esports front-end to a diversity of traditional sportsbooks, either existing or new clients. But also dedicated esports clients such as Luckbox experienced a growth of about 500%, which is incredible.
“At the moment, simulation games reached a stable turnover, and in the short term we expect them to perform even better during season breaks for real sports.”
While traditional sporting events have now resumed play, there is still a stable level of turnover generated by esports betting.
“At the beginning of the real sports crisis, things went haywire, with crazy increases for esports. As expected, once traditional sports came back, esports’ percentage from turnover steadily declined to a sustainable level” explained Hegeler.
“Currently, a stable 10% of the overall turnover and GGR is covered by esports, with FIFA, CS:GO and NBA 2K leading. Where this goes depends on our clients’ future focus. But we expect it to grow constantly in the next years, as esports fans mature and can spend more on digital entertainment.”
Attracting a new audience
EveryMatrix has also managed to attract a new demographic of esports bettors thanks to crossover from real sports to simulation games.
Hegeler said: “Crossover from real sports to simulation games is massive. A football fan is highly likely to like FIFA and enjoy the fact that the big teams are playing 24/7. It is working out well for first-person shooters as well. The gameplay is easy to understand by all generations, while we do not expect a 50-year-old tennis fan to become a punter in Dota.”
According to Hegeler, “esports bettors are significantly younger, with a higher share of women. Unlike traditional punters, they are less experienced in sports betting, so they need better explanations of bonuses, as well as wagering conditions. Also, they are more attracted by visual content, with logos and streams.”
As a large number of esports fans are under the age of 18 there is a great amount of pressure on operators and suppliers to ensure adequate levels of protection for vulnerable people.
Hegeler explained that while the responsibility for stopping underage users falls on the operator, EveryMatrix does provide them with tools they can use to crack down on underage users.
EveryMatrix encourages operators “to promote their content on the appropriate websites, and to have well-executed KYC procedures in place in order to meet compliance and integrity criteria across the full platform,” said Hegeler. “Then, EveryMatrix can integrate third parties like the identity-verification services Idenfy and ShuftiPro into our payments platform to monitor and spot potential problem punters.”