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 (@MiamiHEATrecounted 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.

Ben Spoont

"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]


Joe Favorito @joefav

Joe Favorito has over 32 years of strategic communications/marketing, business development and public relations expertise in sports, entertainment, brand building, media training, television, athletic administration and business. The Brooklyn, New York native has managed the day-to- day activities in strategic communications for: Two of the world’s hallmark sports and entertainment brands (the New York Knickerbockers and Philadelphia 76ers), the world’s largest professional sport for women (the WTA Tour), the world’s largest sports National Governing Body (the United States Tennis Association) and the world’s largest annual sporting event (the US Open). He also oversaw the strategic planning, investor relations, communications and digital business development of the International Fight League during its two year run as a Mixed Martial Arts venture and a publicly traded company. Favorito serves on the boards of the Weinstein Carnegie Group, New York Sports Venture Capital, the National Sports Marketing Network, the Drexel University Sports Business program, and Columbia University’s Sports Management program (where he is an instructor in Strategic Communications and Director of Industry Relations). Joe also maintains a well trafficked blog on the sports marketing and publicity field, “Sports Marketing and PR Roundup,” on the website, as well authoring the first- ever text on the sports publicity industry (“Sports Publicity” published in August 2007 by Reed Elsevier and updated in 2012 by Taylor Publishing with a third printing coming in 2018), which is used in over 60 sports management programs in the U.S. He has been a guest speaker on sports marketing, social media and communications at a host of institutions, including Princeton University, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, the University of Florida Law School, New York University, the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and many others. He is also a frequent spokesperson on the industry for publications ranging from Ad Age and The New York Times to NPR and CBS News. A graduate of Fordham University, Joe, his wife and two children reside in River Vale, New Jersey.


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