Marketers Agree: Gambling, eSports Are the Next Big Thing for the Americas
What: eSports and gaming are major topics of interest in sports business these days. One of the panels at Portada Miami focused on the business opportunities around eSports.
Why it matters: As companies get used to doing more business in Latin America, the potential for growth in these areas is tremendous.
While most of the sports business world is focused on the goings on around two of the business hottest topics in the United States, the growing gaming and eSports world and the world of legalized sports gambling, a key group of executives at Portada Miami last week pointed out that those in the space should probably be looking to the Latin American countries and community as a bold next step in business.
“While the United States is an obvious multibillion-dollar market depending on the ruling of the Supreme Court, we have spent a good amount of time educating Central and South American countries on legalization, and the growth there is also astronomical,” said Chris Dougan, Head of North American Communications at Genius Sports (@GeniusSports). “It’s also not just a growth area for traditional sports like soccer or even tennis, there is a great crossover into the legalized gambling of eSports properties, so we are very keen for engagement in multiple locations now.”
The future is also bright for brands that will look to combine their marketing dollars not just into traditional sports and eSports, but into multicultural adoption
The numbers and projections put forward in both sports gambling and in eSports engagement are staggering. Dougan mentioned a number of US $10 BILLION in illegal dollars that are wagered in the United States during a calendar year, while Ben Spoont (@benspoont), Founder of Team Misfits and head of eSports for the NBA’s Miami Heat (@MiamiHEAT) recounted the millions being spent on elite eSports franchises, as well as the massive online adoption that fans have and will continue to grow. And as connectivity improves and gaming companies get more used to doing business in Latin America, the market for adoption has been primed.
"In all of eSports, the fastest growing market is Latin America,” said Spoont. “The engagement for new fans is really off the charts, and working with the Heat in their investment on their Overwatch team will help that market grow in Florida and beyond."
The crossover between the two areas, eSports and gambling, presents an intriguing opportunity as well, and Dougan was quick to point out that like in traditional sports, making sure that the protection of data is tantamount for any business engagement.
“Consumers, no matter where they are, need to be assured that whatever games they are watching, and potentially betting on, are legitimate and there is no instance of impropriety,” he added. “That’s where Genius Sports comes in; being able to work with the leagues, with the game creators, to make sure that there are no issues and that everything is going on is happening in a fair and equitable digital environment.”
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Fair and equitable is what the gaming world continues to seek as it grows at a meteoric pace. Avid eSports communities have propped up in countries like Brazil, Argentina and Colombia, and the position that Spoont has helped the Heat as a brand build in eSports will be a boon for brand expansion as the market expands.
“The association, and the support of a global brand with the Heat has been a huge boost not just for our business, but for all of eSports,” he added. “It gives us the ability to talk to more people from a business perspective, and with South Florida being so multicultural, really puts is in a unique position for where we can grow in the future.”
The future is also bright for brands that will look to combine their marketing dollars not just into traditional sports and eSports, but into multicultural adoption that could be part of the mix as well. Spoont pointed to Geico as one brand that seems to have found the mix on all fronts, with more to follow. That sponsorship will also grow in value, Dougan added, as more casual fans get involved in activity in and around all sports through legalized sports gambling, be it with eSports or soccer or the NBA.
“The market is going to be very active across the Americas, it’s just a case of developing and engaging when the opportunity arises legally,” he added.
And according to both leaders, as well as moderator Adam White of Front Office Sports (@frntofficesport), that opportunity for one piece, eSports, is quickly coming into focus, while the other, legal sports gambling, isn’t that far off either.
[Featured image credit: Immortals]