ESports betting has been an area of ethical and legal concern for quite some time now. However, it is also the symptom of a deeper problem.
After a ban on sports betting in the United States for nearly 26 years, the Supreme Court finally decided to lift it up in 2018. However, they drew the line when it came to eSports and chose to stick to physical Sports only. Why?
Why is eSports betting not legal in the USA?
Best US Casinos has written a wonderful, detailed article citing all the reasons with potential solutions. However, if you want a quick summary of what they are, here it is:
The primary obstacle eSports betting faces, when it comes to legalisation, is the age of the participating demography. A major fraction of the eSports community consists of minors below 18. The governing b0dies find it unethical for such minors to associate with the betting industry be it directly or indirectly. Moreover, eSports hasn’t quite been able to invite a great deal of participation from betting agencies either. They are still investing in mainstream Sports in particular. This, however, is a temporary issue and will be resolved as the industry attracts exponentially larger attention. Instead, the primary issue here has to do with the excessive participation of minors that the industry has seen since Day 1.
The Deeper Problem of a misguided perception.
Whether video games are for kids or not is a debate that is raging ever since video games came into existence. We are not here to talk about that. However, this very perception has influenced the eSports industry rather negatively.
There is no doubt of the fact that professional eSports is not child’s play. It takes an incredible amount of hard work and dedication. There’s nothing remotely childish about what Ninja, Faker or Surgical Goblin do on stage. However, it is also true that a majority of the eSports professionals turn pro by the time they’re 15 or 16 and stop playing in their late 20s. This is a particularly young age-span compared to mainstream sports.
Now, the betting community’s average age in mainstream sports is between 40 and 60. Logically as well, it is this demography that is expected to have the luxury of betting at their age. This is where eSports’s “minor” problem comes in. If more half of your professionals are below 21, you simply cannot attract audiences between ages 40 and 60. Simply put, adults like to watch adults perform.
So, what can we do about it?
Possible Solutions and the future of eSports betting.
A clear bifurcation between the minor and adult scene in the industry would go a long way towards fixing the issue. Much like mainstream sports, there should be a guided infrastructure in place for kids below the age of 18. This’ll ensure that no matter how good a player is, they need to attain a certain amount of maturity to become a professional. As a result, the pro scene will consist of adults and semi-adults only. Greater adult participation is likely to attract a larger adult viewership. Moreover, the no. for this will only increase as the game hungry Gen Z grows older. This is sure to attract more betting agencies to eSports while also solving the “minor” issue.
In short, eSports betting will be legalised the day eSports isn’t considered a “kids’ thing” anymore.
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