Can Esports Become More Popular Than Poker?

esportsEsports, or what used to be known as “video game competitions”, are experiencing tremendous growth. And with today’s internet exposure, that also translates into amazing money. For 2016 alone, online betting through cash gambling sites totaling $590 million is expected to be placed on egames. There’s now even an esports course being offered at the University of Nevada where students create business plans relevant to the online casino industry. Really? College courses in esports?

There is no doubt that the professional gaming industry, not only here in the US but also world-wide, is growing and is here to stay. Loto-Quebec, the Canadian provincial lottery operator, has recently launched a new site that offers a secure and honest gaming environment for esports betting. Inevitably, comparisons are now being made between video gaming and online poker as to which activity will become the most popular. For now, online poker dominates and remains the supreme leader. The worldwide online gambling industry, of which online poker is a part of, has reached an estimated value of over $40 billion.

World-wide participation is fueling growth for the gaming industry. China has 600 million smartphone owners and 40 percent of them have attended at least one internet gaming competition in the past. But there’s not much in the way of TV viewership for esports. Compare that to poker with its TV network partners such as ESPN for the World Series of Poker and it’s easy to understand why poker is far ahead of esports in popularity. Because of its longevity and TV exposure, poker’s star players, such as professional poker player Doyle Brunson and his trademark cowboy hat, have mas appeal. Not many people have heard of star video gamers such as Chris “Fatal” Bond and Peter Dager.

While the growth curve for poker has been a slow climb, esports have experienced a phenomenal blast off. Poker didn’t start out with the internet propelling it along, but igaming has come along in a time when the internet is very accessible and many people have high speed connections. Spectators can tune into web sites such as Twitch to watch video gaming competitions and can actually communicate with other spectators in real time. And now, spectators can wager on internet gaming through online casino sites, which is another contributing factor to the sharp rise in popularity for egaming. For the majority of people who have played poker, playing for money is more fun, even if it’s for very small stakes. But people get a vicarious thrill when watching players compete for very high stakes. It seems as though video gaming is paralleling poker in that regard.

Even though poker is still king, esports is catching up. It’s not hard to see the industry hitting a billion dollar valuation in the very near future.

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