Monday December 9, 2019


Peter IvanovWith the interest around esports showing no sign of abating, Peter Ivanov discusses how the vertical can be evolved for igaming operators

Peter Ivanov, Head of Trading at UltraPlay, shares his view on the current and future stage of betting on eSports, what’s been achieved so far and what is next for it. 

A few years ago, esports betting was considered a niche gambling vertical. Now it is slowly moving into its next stage of evolution.

As esports grows in popularity and records a year-on-year increase in revenue, it opens new and exciting opportunities for a multitude of betting organizations and their players around the globe. In 2019 we are no longer talking about esports as a “new thing”; instead, we are focusing on how best to present to the public so that we can reach the point where the supply meets the demand.

The top three games that account for more than 80% of the esports betting market – CS:GO, Dota 2 and League of Legends (LoL) – all ran their flagship tournaments over the last three months (CS:GO Major, in September; Dota 2 The International 9, in August; and League of Legends World Championship, in October).

In terms of turnover and bets placed, UltraPlay has reported a year-on-year increase of over 43%, though this varies greatly from game to game. We saw a sharp increase in LoL turnover of over 65%, while in Dota 2 the increase was closer to 18% (Dota 2 is still ahead of LoL in terms of absolute numbers, however). Meanwhile, CS:GO put in a strong performance, attracting the most turnover and number of bets. It also registered a steady increase of 36% compared to previous editions of The Major. We expect to see this growth continue over the next season.

From both our experience and the current trends in esports betting, we also foresee some major shifts in particular game interest. The popularity of some games will begin to decline while others will start to grow rapidly. This trend directly corresponds to esports’ primary market of millennials and their constant demand for the next level of entertainment. In seeking to experience the next big thing in esports titles, the new generation of bettors actually demands that the game is offered by the major betting brands.


Keeping up with the trends and demands of the audience, it’s important to understand that millennials require a totally new approach to communication and engagement. We rarely see cross-sale between esports and other sports.

The latest data shows that many sportsbooks fail to meet esports fans’ expectations, not only with their coverage but also with on-site features, promotions, etc. Millennials want the look and feel of esports, and the classical sports betting view is not the way to go. It is vital that millennials’ requirements are given proper attention as they will become the main user audience in the coming years. Equally, it is essential that digital assets are constantly innovated and improved upon, in order to deliver exceptional UX/UI and services, as well as the wide coverage of games, events, and markets.

When it comes to driving more traffic to the sites, betting markets are also very important. This is a very interesting subject since traditional markets such as match winner, handicaps and totals continue to dominate the turnover chart.

Fast markets (such as round winners, race to X kills/rounds), or game objective markets (i.e. those that are decided way before the end of the game) are more and more appealing to esports fans. An industry pioneer in esports, UltraPlay has been waiting for that shift in interest to materialize and has developed various markets to cater for it. Feedback from our business partners shows that this is one of the main reasons why esports bettors are actively seeking out our product.


Because our award-winning esports betting solution is constantly being updated, it helps established online operators offer a profitable product, increase revenue and attract new players. Entering the esports betting scene as an operator in 2019 is more challenging than ever before, mainly because there are so many well-established brands and products in the industry that there aren’t many new things that an operator can offer.

This is why selecting the right supplier is key. Nowadays, esports is offered on almost all operator sites, but 95% of them offer it in the wrong way, leading to low turnover and nearzero profit – some operators are even reporting an overall loss. UltraPlay has always proclaimed that esports should be considered as different to other sports and should be treated with the right approach. Working closely with our partners and clients, we educate them on how to make the most of it. This is the reason why our esports product is so popular around the globe.

This has been published on the November/December issue of iGaming Business.