Gambling Commission predicts strong growth for UK eSports betting

  • 8.5% of adults have bet on eSports
  • 3% of adults are recent eSports betters

The UK’s Gambling Commission has painted an interesting snapshot of the current market for eSports betting in the UK, thanks to the release of its latest figures.


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll be well aware that eSports is primarily focused on competitive live video gaming events, which can then be streamed to millions more spectators online.

It’s a huge growth industry, that’s generating some pretty impressive headlines. As previously reported by Casinopedia, the sector could be worth $1.5 billion by 2020, with betting turnover reaching $23 billion by the same year.

Headline stats

According to the Gambling Commission’s paper, although eSports make up a relatively small percentage of total British gambling the sheer amount of new markets being offered on eSports indicates that there is not only confidence within the industry, but that it’s set to grow,

Of particular interest to the industry will be the typical bettors that are likely to be a part of the growing trend. According to those figures released by the Gambling Commission:

  • 58% of eSports betters are men
  • 44% are 25 to 34-year-olds
  • 20% in the 18 – 24-year-olds category

These statistics demonstrate the rise in a new type of gambler who has an interest in skills-based competitions, where players (and teams) are pitched against each other. eSports gamblers are most likely to be young and male, and are interested in events that combine something entertaining with the opportunity to bet on that action.

What makes eSports particularly unique is that all its competitions are performed using purely digital technology. The spectacular arena-sized events enjoy a live audience, similar in size and ferocity to major sporting events, but the action itself is relayed via large screens and also streamed online.

The Gambling Commission claims that, moving forward, to “Maintain public confidence in the integrity of eSports…” the industry needs to guarantee fair levels of equipment, processors and power levels for all competitors as it would in other sports.

Virtual currency and skin gambling

According to the Gambling Commission, women make up 42% of eSports bettors. However, they are more likely to bet using the available range of in-game items (virtual currency or skin betting) than money.

Skins are essentially in-game items that can be used to customise a player’s avatar, weapons or anything else they may have in the game. And, the figures state that some of these more rare items can be worth as much as £1,000.

Where the challenge lies for the Gambling Commission, and for the growing industry, is that skin gambling ins’t regulated at present. It’s basically a black market.

Since eSports gamblers rely on the use (and regulation) of virtual currency, as well as cash, the Commission requires a license for gambling facilities dealing in “tradable in-game items…offered to British consumers…”. It’s hoped that this will also reduce the risk posed by a rise last in the number of unregulated secondary or black markets, trading in skins.


It’s an understatement to say that eSports is going to be huge. But, it’s always interesting to read behind the headlines a little further and to understand just what’s involved in such a massive industry. Now, reports can be dry – they’re not really made for light reading – but the Gambling Commission’s latest figures do highlight some interesting trends that will undoubtedly have an impact on the UK’s wider gambling sector in the years to come. Will it be the go-to place for the next generation to have a flutter? Will fans of sports betting eventually prefer to watch Fifa tournaments played by techie teenagers? Will a range of eSports arenas be sprouting up in a town or city near you? It’s possible, but it’s not certain. If you do want to find out more, and you have some time this weekend, the full report can be read here.

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