eSports describes the world of competitive, organized video gaming. Competitors from different leagues or teams face off in the same games that are popular with at-home gamers: Fortnite, League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Overwatch and Madden NFL, to name a few. These gamers are watched and followed by millions of fans all over the world, who attend live events or tune in on TV or online. Streaming services like Twitch allow viewers to watch as their favorite gamers play in real time, and this is typically where popular gamers build up their fandoms.

Who watches eSports?

Short answer? A lot of people. According to a report from Newzoo, a market analytics company, 380 million people worldwide will watch eSports this year, including 165 million eSports enthusiasts (a term that describes frequent viewers, as opposed to occasional viewers). The bulk of these enthusiasts watch from North America, China and South Korea.

Tournaments and other events can attract viewing crowds that rival most traditional professional sports outings. The 2017 League of Legends World Championship drew more than 80 million viewers, making it one of the most popular eSports competitions ever. In July, ESPN and Disney XD announced they secured a multi-year deal to broadcast the Overwatch League, a brand-new international league with 12 franchises centered around the incredibly popular multiplayer first-person shooter came, Overwatch. According to research from Newzoo, 588 major esports events were held in 2017.

Who plays eSports?

As hard as it may be to imagine for devotees of traditional sports leagues like the NFL or the NBA; eSports, at its highest levels, functions in a similar way. In fact, this April, the NBA held a draft for the launch of its new eSports league centered around the basketball-themed NBA 2K game franchise. During the draft, 102 professional eSports players were selected, with all of the pomp and circumstance normally reserved for players on the court. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, center, poses for photographs with gamers at the NBA 2K League draft in April, 2018. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, center, poses for photographs with gamers at the NBA 2K League draft in April, 2018. Colleges have even gotten in on the action. More than 50 colleges have varsity eSports programs, recognized by a governing body called the National Association of Collegiate Esports. NACE championships dole out thousands of dollars in prize money, which is put towards scholarships for the winners.

What is iGaming – the present or the future of the industry?

Simply put, iGaming (or online gaming) is playing or betting on the outcome of a game or event via the internet. iGaming activities include, but not limited to, sports betting – like NFL wagering – online casino betting, poker betting, or online video gaming, etc.…but the biggest share of this industry is made up of sports betting and casino games.

While iGaming hubs are dotted everywhere around the world, the most popular are based in Malta (an archipelago in the central Mediterranean) and Gibraltar in the U.K. When you look at the magnitude of the global gaming industry, it’s no surprise that online gaming is encroaching the business market all over the world. The industry, in terms of market size and revenue generation, is at par with film and music industries, if not better.

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Is this the Future of Gaming? 

Pretty much. Gone are the days where gamers had to make long trips to brick and mortar casinos to play the 21. The days of filling out a slip in depressing betting shops are also far gone. You don’t also need to spend a rainy day to venture on a horseracing game!

Thanks to iGaming (and the Internet of Things), gaming and betting aficionados can plunge into whatever game that satiates their thirst at the comfort of their sofas. The inevitable truth is that the games will only get better, the platforms will get even more space-age, and the future is without-a-doubt bright for iGaming fanatics!