Esports Sponsorship and Betting: The Thin Line Between Support and Exploitation
Esports is a booming industry that attracts millions of fans, players and sponsors from all over the world. Esports tournaments feature competitive video games such as CS:GO, League of Legends, Dota 2, VALORANT, and more, with prize pools reaching millions of dollars. Esports betting is also a growing market that allows fans to wager on the outcomes of matches, tournaments, and events.
However, esports betting is not without its challenges and controversies. Esports betting is subject to different legal regulations in different countries, which can create complications for both operators and bettors. Esports betting also raises ethical questions about the impact of gambling sponsorship on the esports scene, especially on the young and vulnerable audiences that follow esports.
In this article, we will explore the benefits and risks of esports betting sponsorship, and how it can support or exploit the esports industry. We will also discuss some of the best practices and recommendations for ensuring that esports betting sponsorship is transparent, accountable, and socially responsible.
What is esports betting sponsorship?
Gambling sponsorship is a common practice in many traditional sports, such as football, basketball and tennis. Gambling companies pay sports teams, leagues and events to display their logos, banners, and ads, in exchange for exposure and brand awareness. Gambling sponsorship can also provide valuable revenue streams for sports organisations, especially in times of financial difficulty.
Esports betting sponsorship is similar to gambling sponsorship in traditional sports but with some differences. Esports betting sponsorship refers to the partnerships between esports organisations (such as teams, leagues and events) and gambling operators (such as bookmakers, casinos, and fantasy sports platforms) that offer esports betting products and services.
Esports betting sponsorship can take various forms, such as:
- Logo placement: Gambling operators display their logos on the jerseys, equipment or websites of esports organisations.
- Content creation: Gambling operators produce or sponsor content related to esports, such as live streams, podcasts or articles.
- Event hosting: Gambling operators host or sponsor esports events, such as tournaments, leagues or exhibitions.
- Fan engagement: Gambling operators engage with esports fans through social media, promotions or giveaways.
Esports betting sponsorship can be divided into two categories: endemic and non-endemic. Endemic sponsors are those that are native to the esports industry, such as GG Bet or Rivalry. Non-endemic sponsors are those who are not native to the esports industry but have expanded into it, such as Betway or DraftKings.
What are the benefits of esports betting sponsorship?
Esports betting sponsorship can bring benefits to the esports industry, such as:
- Increased professionalism: Esports betting sponsorship can help esports organisations improve their professionalism, legitimacy and credibility, by providing them with financial stability, resources, and opportunities.
- Enhanced fan experience: Esports betting sponsorship can help enhance the fan experience, by offering more engagement, entertainment and excitement. Esports betting sponsorship can also create more value for fans, by offering them more choices, options and incentives.
- Support for growth and development: Esports betting sponsorship can help support the growth and development of the esports sector, by providing funding, exposure and innovation. Esports betting sponsorship can also help create more diversity and inclusion in the esports sector, by attracting new audiences, markets and demographics.
What are the risks of esports betting sponsorship?
Esports betting sponsorship can also pose risks and challenges to the esports industry, such as:
- Compromising esports integrity: Esports betting sponsorship can create conflicts of interest between esports organisations and gambling operators, especially when it comes to match-fixing, cheating and corruption. Esports betting sponsorship can also create incentives for unethical or illegal behaviour among players, staff or fans.
- Promoting irresponsible gambling behaviour: Esports betting sponsorship can expose esports fans to excessive and harmful gambling advertising, which can influence their attitudes, beliefs and behaviours towards gambling. Esports betting sponsorship can also increase the risk of gambling addiction among young and vulnerable people.
- Exploiting esports fans: Esports betting sponsorship can exploit esports fans by taking advantage of their passion, loyalty and trust for their favourite teams, players and games. Esports betting sponsorship can also manipulate or mislead esports fans by using deceptive or unfair practices.
How to ensure responsible esports betting sponsorship?
Esports betting sponsorship is a complex and controversial topic that requires careful consideration and balance. Esports betting sponsorship can be a source of support or exploitation for the esports industry, depending on how it is implemented, regulated and monitored.
Therefore, it is important to ensure that esports betting sponsorship is guided by principles of transparency, accountability and social responsibility. Some of the best practices and recommendations for ensuring responsible esports betting sponsorship are:
- Know the regulations: Familiarize yourself with the regulations surrounding esports betting in your country or state. Different countries have different laws and rules regarding esports betting, which can affect the legality, validity and enforceability of esports betting sponsorship. For example, in the UK, gambling sponsorship is subject to strict advertising restrictions, while in the US, esports betting is legal only in certain states.
- Use licensed operators: Only place bets with licensed operators who are authorized to offer esports betting in your area. Licensed operators are regulated by authorities that ensure they comply with standards of fairness, security and responsibility. Licensed operators also protect your rights and interests as a bettor, such as ensuring you receive your winnings, resolving disputes and providing customer support. For example, in the UK, you can check if an operator is licensed by the Gambling Commission, while in the US, you can check if an operator is licensed by the state gaming board.
- Age requirement: Ensure that you are of legal age to participate in esports betting in your country or state. Different countries have different age requirements for gambling, which can range from 18 to 21 years old. Esports betting is not suitable for minors, as they are more susceptible to gambling addiction and harm. Esports betting sponsors should also ensure that they do not target or appeal to minors, such as by using age verification systems, parental controls and responsible gambling messages.
- Set limits: Set limits on how much time and money you spend on esports betting. Esports betting can be fun and exciting, but it can also be addictive and harmful if you lose control. Esports betting sponsors should also encourage and facilitate responsible gambling behaviour among their customers, such as by providing tools, resources and support for setting limits, self-exclusion and seeking help.
- Be informed: Be informed about the risks and consequences of esports betting. Esports betting can have negative impacts on your mental, physical, financial and social well-being, especially if you gamble excessively or compulsively. Esports betting sponsors should also provide clear and accurate information about their products and services, such as the odds, payouts, terms and conditions and complaints procedures.
- Be respectful: Be respectful of the esports community and culture. Esports betting can enhance your enjoyment and appreciation of esports, but it should not interfere with or undermine the integrity, quality and diversity of esports. Esports betting sponsors should also respect the values and interests of the esports community and culture, such as by supporting esports organisations, events and causes, engaging with esports fans and stakeholders, and promoting esports awareness and education.