There’s no denying that eSports has become a major player in competitive online entertainment. A recent agreement between the UK Gambling Commission and the ESports Integrity Coalition is the next step in recognizing eSports and making it a legitimate part of the world of online gambling.
The history of eSports
ESports, in the broadest sense, can be defined as playing video games competitively. One could argue that they got their start way back in the ‘80s, when Space Invaders tournaments were organized. Atari held the first one in 1980 and the idea took off from there. By the 1990s, tournaments for arcade and console games had become very popular.
With the rise of PC gaming, later in that decade, gamers had a new platform at their disposal and another way to challenge one another. The focus, at first, was on first-person shooter games but then grew to include more strategy-based games, which were less about quick reflexes and more about long-term planning. Starcraft was the big name in this area at the time and it really hit its stride in the early years of the new millennium.
In the last decade, eSports have grown into a massive industry, with tournament organizers offering huge prizes, participants travelling around the world to compete and audiences packing sold-out arenas to watch the action. With streaming services like Twitch, viewers can watch the action from anywhere. With the games and equipment becoming more affordable, more and more people are playing and so more people are interested in watching too.
Memorandum of Understanding
It seems practical, then, that the UKGC would want to get involved. So far, eSports have been going it alone, so to speak, without the support of regulators.
This is changing as the ESports Integrity Coalition has signed a memorandum of understanding with the UKGC. In signing this document, the UKGC asserts its recognition of eSports alongside other competitive events like football, tennis and so on. This means that these two entities will be able to share knowledge and information about this growing sector.
Better communication between these two institutions means that insight on fraud, money-laundering, organized crime, player trends, as well as improved public confidence in placing bets on this sector have taken top priority.
The UK Gambling Commission’s Sports Betting Intelligence Unit in particular will dedicate valuable resources and know-how to this partnership.
This is the second such agreement for the ESIC, which signed a similar memorandum with the Nevada Gaming Control Board earlier this year. With eSports growing in popularity on both sides of the Atlantic, the cooperation of regulating bodies and the ESIC can only mean positive things for players around the world.