Go big or go home
The esports betting industry has seen significant growth in Southeast Asia in 2022, driven by major competitions with millions of viewers and lucrative prize pools. According to a report by Esports Insider, three major games – League of Legends, Dota 2, and CS:GO – dominate the market, with popular mobile games like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang gaining traction.
As a result, many betting agents have emerged and sponsored new esports teams, with Southeast Asian teams receiving sponsorship from bookies like Rivalry and M88.
In Southeast Asia several teams have received sponsorship from several large bookies such as Rivalry (Boom, Blacklist International) and M88 (Talon Esports). However, this trend has also sparked criticism, with recent incidents of match-fixing raising concerns among fans.
Despite the criticism, gambling sponsorship is not considered the primary cause of match-fixing, according to veteran Indonesian Dota pundit and M88 official partner, Dimas “Dejet” Surya.
“Actually, the uptrend of esports betting, especially from a number of big brands, in Southeast Asia, is not surprising at all. It’s been there before. Now we have more options as there are many new brands or sub-brands from old companies,” he said.
In his experience, players may be motivated by financial issues or lack of payment from their organizations.
“I don’t think that easier access to esports betting has much to do with the trend of match fixing,” he argued. “There is always a reason behind that. In my experience, there are always some players who do it because they don’t get paid from their organization/team or any financial related problem from the competition.”
It helps the competition
Moreover, Dejet believes that esports betting indirectly benefits the industry by increasing the viewership of competitions and providing opportunities for newer teams to advance. He also sees the potential for betting companies to become the main sponsors of esports in Southeast Asia.
“There were new teams that advanced to high-level competitions thanks to the sponsorship from bookies,” said Dejet. “Moreover, there were several tournaments, which being sponsored by these bookies with competitive prize pools which, in my opinion, made it easier for professional players to look for additional tournaments and hone their skills ahead of major competitions.”
However, the impact of esports gambling on the economy has been limited, particularly in Indonesia where gambling is not legalized. Dejet believes that the industry will not have a substantial impact until local regulations are addressed.
While there are differing opinions among esports fans regarding these sponsors, Dejet hopes that the industry will continue to provide opportunities for big competitions and that audiences will be more open-minded towards it.