Relationships Between Video Gaming, Spectating esports and Gambling

Posted on Wednesday, Mar 24 2021 @ 14:47 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Gambling dates as far back as the Paleolithic period, the same era that prehistoric humans developed stone tools. The history of video gaming is, of course, a lot shorter. However, in recent years, we’ve seen a convergence of these two separate but similar activities.

With the technological advances of today, we can bet on an American esports tournament at a https://casinopånett.eu/, stream an event in real time, and even participate with global teammates. Our expert author, Nina Olsendburg, takes a closer look at the history of gambling and gaming, how they’ve evolved, and the relationship between the two. You can learn more about him here.

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A Quick History Lesson

In Mesopotamia, 6-sided dice appeared around 3,000 BC. In the first millennium BC, Chinese gambling houses were a common sight. Poker’s precursor, the Persian game called As-Nas, dates back to the 17th century, while the first-ever casino opened its doors in 1638 in Italy.

330 years later, in 1958, physicist William Higinbotham created what’s considered to be the first-ever video game. Visitors at the Brookhaven National Laboratory would line up to play “Tennis for Two”, but even then, Higinbotham never could’ve guessed how popular this form of entertainment would later become.

Fast forward 60 or so years, and this leisurely activity is now a global phenomenon. From state-of-the-art graphics and professional tournaments to live streaming and a booming economy - it’s about more than just a fun time.

A Simultaneous Evolution

In 1998, when internet connectivity and the personal computer were more accessible, the overnight sensation and real-time strategy (RTS) game, Starcraft, was released.

While video gaming technologies continued to evolve, so did online gambling. A few years earlier, in 1994, the first-ever online casino opened for business.

By the 2000s, a handful of international esports tournaments were established. Video gaming news at the time surrounded events like the World Cyber Games and the Electronic Sports World Cup. Meanwhile, over 200 online casinos were in operation, totaling an estimated revenue of over USD 1 billion.

The industry skyrocketed, bringing new competition at every corner. Some innovative companies turned to sports betting to attract customers. It was an instant hit. Today, this type of gambling represents a large chunk of the market, worth about USD 203 billion.

A Convergence

It’s clear that the advent of technology revolutionized both online forms of gambling and video gaming and continues to do so. But is video gaming a sport? Considering that the global market revenue reached USD 1.1 billion in 2020, with sponsorship taking the largest piece of the pie, yes, it is.

These activities also share some common elements, such as:
  • Unpredictability
  • Monetary and non-monetary wagering
  • A degree of skill in some cases
  • Stakes
  • The promise of a prize in the event of success
Despite these parallels, studies have shown that there’s no direct association between video gaming consumption and esports betting.

Still, the internet has allowed for the expansion and exposure of esports to a wider audience. According to Statista, global “frequent” viewership is expected to exceed 295 million by 2023, with 351 million “occasional” spectators.

The Bottom Line


Video gaming and gambling may have some similarities, but there’s no direct correlation between the two. However, esports, betting and spectatorship do converge and continue to enjoy exponential growth.