eSports and younger adult’s gambling: What’s the relationship?

David Banks
Authored by David Banks
Posted Tuesday, February 20, 2024 - 8:32am

One disturbing thing about the latest studies and records on eSports betting is that it largely involves the youth. The rate of growth in adolescents’ and younger people’s betting habits is indeed alarming, especially as in the past few years, there have been reports of a really big penetration of gambling in their everyday lives and routines.

The problem is that although most of the betting sites, online bookmakers, and online casinos - including around the world, are taking measures and are developing built-in mechanisms to prevent adolescents from gambling, young people find ways to circumvent policies and restrictions, and eventually get to gamble. For adolescents, this can be indeed devastating. Adolescent betting can be a powerful predictor for future gambling problems, particularly since they don’t have the required maturity and experience to control their behaviour and they can end up carried away by their enthusiasm. 

But then again, it is not only adolescents who have started to gamble, which is irritating. It is that young adults have begun to gamble more and while this is not prohibited - at least in countries where sports betting and online gambling are legal- it can too be disturbing for two reasons. 

The first reason has to do with how close eSports and sports gambling actually are. The second reason has to do with the fact that young adults generally demonstrate more proneness to gambling problems and thus a greater probability of developing some kind of gambling addiction. 

eSports has grown enormously in the past few years, becoming not only a favorite pastime activity for those who love video games but a profession for those who decide to take competitive video gaming to a whole new level and also a source of income for those who want to get as engaged and immersed as possible with their favorite pastime habit. The more eSports are getting popular around the world, the more mainstream they become. 

The more mainstream they get, the more the viewership and attendance rates are growing, which leads to more competition, leagues, and events being organized. And the more such events are taking place, the more eSports fans and enthusiasts want to gain an immersive experience coming from being able to engage and in some way, interact with the games. And to do that, eSports fans are turning into bettors since there are so many opportunities for betting and gambling on big, international events. 

There is a widespread concern over how eSports are “dragging” younger people into sports gambling. That’s because the basic audience of eSports is largely composed of fans, whose average age is much lower than the average age of other, traditional sports’ fans. Tennis, football, basketball, cricket, and other extremely popular sports around the globe have fans whose average age is considerably bigger than those who love to play or watch games like League of Legends, Fortnite, CS:GO, etc.  

The massive success of eSports’ tournaments and leagues, which skyrocketed partly also due to the pandemic, has not been left untapped by sportsbooks and online casinos. Because attendance to such events was not an easy thing -especially for younger individuals- streaming entire leagues was the only way to watch closely competitive video game tournaments unfold. 

And this was largely leveraged by bookmakers and betting sites that undertook to stream them for their users. Streaming brought more audiences and more audiences meant more betting. Only this time betting was mainly about young adults, predominantly inexperienced punters. 

With eSports getting even bigger and receiving global attention, more and more people are dragged into the virtual world. And as a consequence of that, more and more people are introduced to the world of sports gambling. It’s not that eSports have something that transforms fans into bettors. Rather it is that eSports’ nature is such that it triggers immersion with the virtual world, requiring fans to be in a ‘connection’ mode and given that eSports’ engagement comes primarily from being able to back and support your favourites or from being able to make predictions about what is going to happen, sports betting becomes often the most effective way of doing so. 

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