Game on: Comparison of demographic profiles, consumption behaviours, and gambling site selection criteria of esports and sports bettors

10 April 2019

The esports betting market remains predominantly unregulated, although regulated sites have begun offering options to wager on these types of events. Previously, esports has been considered a niche market sector with participants differing from traditional sports and race bettors. However, as esports increasingly becomes absorbed into mainstream markets, it is important to understand the comparative similarities and differences in characteristics and behaviours between esport and traditional sports bettors. In particular, with regulators increasingly attempting to reduce use of offshore gambling sites, it is important to determine the extent to which those who bet on esports are more likely to access and engage in unregulated sites and activities. This paper classified and compared the characteristics of 501 Australians reporting participation in both sports and esports (n=160), or only in sports (n=341) bets online in the past month. Measures assessed use of online onshore and offshore sites, factors used to select gambling sites, and perceived advantages/disadvantages of using onshore compared to offshore sites. Findings suggested that the two groups were distinct in several ways; esports bettors were younger, more highly educated, had higher incomes and were represented by a greater proportion of females and individuals from Asian ethnic backgrounds. This group additionally reported starting gambling more recently and frequently overall, and expressed a preference to gamble on illegal offshore sites as opposed to domestically-licensed sites. Sports bettors were more likely to select domestic sites seeking more reliable and safe experiences, in contrast to esports bettors, who were motivated by the gambling experience, regardless of where a site was regulated. Results suggested that sports bettors perceived greater disadvantages of using offshore sites, and that this acted to deter access. In contrast, esports bettors sought a specific experience and were willing to use offshore sites. It is concluded that domestic operators need to provide a competitive online gambling environment and meet customer demands if online gamblers are to be deterred from using offshore sites.