Nation’s First eSports Sportsbook Coming To Colorado

With a pandemic sweeping across the world and sports wagering options limited for bettors, there has been much talk about how eSports filled the gap earlier in 2020, and what might “stick” going forward. Operators are finding it’s an open question with myriad answers.

But a casino announced it will launch an eSports-only mobile/online sportsbook and the creation of a new eSports league made news, perhaps providing further proof that those in the know believe eSports and eSports betting are the next big thing.

Colorado’s Sky Ute Casino is betting there’s enough interest to dedicate an entire digital sportsbook to the venture. The tribe, along with partners USBookmaking and GameCo on Wednesday morning announced it will launch the nation’s first “dedicated eSports sportsbook.” The book be available in Colorado only.

A day earlier, South Korea-based TechnoBlood announced the launch of the World Super League, a global eSports league. The League will feature $450,000 in prize money and a multiple-event season.

“USBookmaking has been investigating entry to the eSports wagering market for over three years. GameCo brings all the pieces necessary together to finally make an esports product the most comprehensive of any we have seen. We look forward to bringing this new product to Sky Ute and the people of Colorado,” said John Salerno, Director of Operations for USBookmaking in a joint press release.

When Sky Ute launches its eSports sportsbook, it will mark the second time in a year that the tribe has made history — in June, it became the first tribe in the nation  to offer a mobile sports betting platform available statewide.

States, operators adding eSports to menus

The announcement comes at a unique time. Sports wagering operators have seen a spike in interest in betting on eSports, virtual sports, and simulated sports since COVID-19 in March touched off massive business closures and restrictions on travel in the U.S. and across the world.

Since then, several states, including Iowa, and New Jersey, have expanded or added eSports offerings to their daily fantasy menus. In terms of operators, DraftKings is the most mainstream, well-known operator to offer wagering on eSports while there are also speciality companies like Unikrn, which currently or will offer eSports betting — both for fans and for participants themselves.

“We kind of think that eSports betting is a lot bigger than what most operators think,” Rahul Sood, CEO and co-founder of Unikrn said during a Betting on Sports America panel in early December. “Most operators are operating very much on the very bottom of that funnel, which is watching pro tournaments and getting odds and placing live bets on live betting markets, and we’re doing all of it. It’s a pretty cool space and there’s a lot of opportunity for any…

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