eSports versus iGaming. Which industry benefited the most during the lockdown?

Starting from February 2020, a few countries have introduced quarantines, curfews, and other forms of restrictions in a bid to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of that, many industries were hurt and some of them still cannot recover from these restrictions. However, there were a few industries that have actually profited from this situation. eSports and iGaming are good examples of that. This makes sense because both of them don’t require the physical presence of participants or consumers. Of course, one of these industries might have benefited more than the other during this period and we will use this article to analyze that.

What was going on with iGaming during the lockdowns?

iGaming has been a popular way of entertainment for a while now, but the COVID-19 global crisis that has forced people to stay at their homes has increased the interest in this activity. A few surveys have shown that casual players have increased their budgets while frequent players have decided to play even more frequently during this period.

Although in many other industries the number of companies that were forced to close has increased, the situation in the iGaming industry was different. We have seen an increase in the number of online casinos and gambling sites. Also, the competition has become fiercer and this is the reason why the leading casinos have started offering even more incentives and bonuses. The websites which specialize in filtering out specific information regarding the gambling industry have seen a massive boost in traffic. Even though Pakistan hasn’t been known as a popular country when it comes to online casinos, reports that the pandemic has significantly changed that opinion.

It’s also worth mentioning that the interest in mobile apps created by iGaming companies is on the rise. One might think that this doesn’t make sense since most people are staying at home, but this is exactly the reason why there are more mobile players. Sometimes, there are a few adults in one household, and they have access to just one or two computers. This is where mobile devices come into play. Needless to say, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets provide more flexibility allowing gamblers to play anywhere they want even when they are home.

eSports during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns

Since eSports are a form of sport competition, it’s logical that eSports and other sports are somewhat connected. By April 2020, more than 50% of the population of our planet was under some form of lockdown. These restrictions have affected traditional sports because most sporting events were canceled (the UEFA Euro 2020, the Olympics, etc.). On the other hand, the popularity of electronic sports has increased.

According to some stats, the number of viewers of eSports events has increased by 30% in the first few months of these lockdowns. Even though these numbers have dropped in recent months, it’s safe to assume that eSports have many more fans now compared to the beginning of this year.

At the same time, significantly more bets were placed at online bookies on these events. So, on one hand, eSports were benefiting from the increased interest while on the other hand, almost every popular bookmaker on the Internet that has a betting section has included these events in their offer. This was an unexpected boost for both sectors.

These changes have created other effects too. Namely, more and more companies and organizations that are not related to this industry have decided to use the popularity of electronic sports to promote their business messages here. In the past, the demographic audience profile in this field was clear – young people usually not over 25 and predominantly male. Now, with the rising interest in this activity, that profile is changing and providing more opportunities for different kinds of companies to promote their brands during these events. It’s good to point out that the North American and the Asian markets are still the biggest market in the eSports industry.

So, which industry benefited the most during the lockdown?

It’s quite difficult to provide a straight answer to this question and there’s more than one reason for that. First of all, the lockdowns caused by COVID-19 are returning to many countries. In other words, the crisis created by this virus is still present across the globe. Next, we can’t get a definitive conclusion based on data gathered in just a few months. Surely, we can talk about short-term effects, but not about the impact of COVID-19 in the long run.

From what we’ve seen so far, both eSports and iGaming benefited the most in March and April 2020 during the first wave of lockdowns. eSports’ popularity was even greater because many traditional sporting events were canceled, and it seems that sports fans were looking for an alternative. Once the lockdown was eased, the popularity of both industries dropped, but it’s still higher compared to the pre-pandemic period.

When comparing these two industries, we should also mention the fact that eSports (at least before the crisis) required physical presence of participants. There were matches held in arenas where teams from different parts of the world were competing against each other. Now, that opportunity is gone due to the virus. Yet, efforts were made to create virtual competitions. This can have a negative effect on eSports in the future. On the other hand, iGaming is almost completely virtual. The only exceptions are live casino games, but they too require the presence of just one person (the dealer), so they are not really affected.

According to some stats, the global eSports market will grow over 1.5 times in the next three years. The online casino industry will grow too, but according to some sources, that growth will be between 10% and 20% in the next five years. Generally speaking, the growth of these industries is almost guaranteed with or without a pandemic threat because this form of entertainment matches the interests of many people around the globe.

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