U.K. statistics show a huge increase in esports betting during COVID-19 lockdown

Will the trend continue when traditional sports resume?


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Last week, the Gambling Commission in the U.K. published data showing the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on gambling behaviour in Great Britain. The latest figures show that the amount of money spent on esports betting increased during the two months of full lockdown in April and May.

However, the numbers also show that this kind of wagering was skyrocketing even before then. In March 2019, esports bettors spent a total of £50,223 (equal to about US$63,325). By March of this year, that amount had risen to £1,517,548—an increase of a staggering 2,922 percent.

Between March and April of this year, the amount increased a further 124 percent. In May, betting on competitive video-game events totalled £4,616,610 (roughly US$5,820,968).

The number are impressive. Of course, it remains to be seen if interest in esports remains high even when traditional sports resume.

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Esports betting outside of Great Britain

In an article about online betting platforms, ECentralSports addressed the issue of the legality of betting on esports events. Here’s some of what we had to say back in June:

Unfortunately, there is no universal yes-or-no answer to this question, because it all depends on where you live. In the U.S., only a handful of states—Nevada, New Jersey, Tennessee, and West Virginia—have explicitly deemed esports betting to be legal.

Wagering on sporting events is permitted in Arkansas, Delaware, New York, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Rhode Island, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. However these states don’t have specific legislation on the books with regard to esports.

Most betting platforms do, in fact, block traffic from the U.S., Australia, and other countries where such activity is either illegal or falls into a grey area.

In Canada, things are fairly straightforward. It is illegal for sports-betting operators based in Canada to offer Canadians their services without official licensing. The good news is these laws don’t apply to sites based outside of the country. There are no restrictions on Canadians accessing and betting at internationally licensed and regulated esports betting sites.

Your best bet (pun intended) is to check the laws where you live before taking the plunge into esports betting.

I have done a lot of different things over the course of my life and professional career. I have interviewed Oscar and Grammy winners and written cover stories for glossy newsstand magazines. I have played guitar in a rock band on national TV and run an independent music label for which I wrote all of the PR and marketing materials. In my spare time, I sweated out a novel about a world where raccoons are kings and dragons are real.

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