One of esports’ key trends throughout the last couple years has been diversification. So much so, that it’s almost a necessity to pursue a range of revenue opportunities in order to flourish.
Given this importance, it’s quite easy to see that the overall esports industry and the esports betting sector have become a lot more alike. For esports organisations, this diversification has occurred through acquisitions of esports-adjacent properties as well as putting an emphasis on creator and merchandise divisions.
In the esports betting scene, this shift has seen gambling companies develop new products, strike unique partnerships between publishers and organisations, and put an emphasis on data to bolster offerings. The reason for this change is two-fold: Consumer habits are constantly changing, and new bookmakers in the space — both endemic and non-endemic — are looking to innovate in order to continue growth.
Through this innovation, new types of betting products have emerged that go beyond the traditional pre-match and in-play offerings on major esports events. There’s been rising interest in the esports fantasy scene, for example, and bookmakers have started to utilise pick’ems to drive interest amongst ordinary fans.
Then there’s fast-esports, perhaps one of esports’ least known betting product offerings. In essence, fast-esports offer massive amounts of content to bookmakers in the form of supervised match-ups organised specifically for or by the bookmaker. Match-ups can span a multitude of titles, including FIFA, NBA 2K and CS:GO. This in theory ensures that gambling companies have constant competitive gaming content that can be implemented into their offerings.
However, when conducting multiple supervised match-ups across multiple titles and players, which can run for multiple hours everyday, there are naturally concerns around safety, integrity and fair play.
In order to shine a light on this new form of offering, and the wider esports betting product landscape, The Esports Journal interviewed Gal Ehrlich, CEO of betting content and data company BETER — a leader in the field of fast-betting content.
*Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity
For those who are unfamiliar with BETER, could you explain how your esports betting products work?
BETER has two components for its esports product. The first component is providing our customers with the most extensive coverage of global esports events in the industry including tier 1-3 tournaments; that’s more than 450 esports tournaments annually, totalling an astounding 40,000 events per year. Our trading team works using official data from Bayes Esports and other partners, so the odds we provide are accurate and the uptime is very high.
The other important part is our in-house esports events that provide fast esports content of 24/7 tournaments under the ESportsBattle brand. We create and distribute more than 25,000 events of efootball, ebasketball, ehockey, Dota 2 and CS:GO each month.
In addition to streams and odds, we provide our clients with our iFrame solution that can include all of the esports and sports events from our portfolio as well as the live streaming of them.
BETER offers a range of esports tournaments that provide in-play and pre-match content for bookmakers. What was the reasoning behind developing these products?
Esports content, which BETER is producing, is really created with an entertainment-first approach. It is fast, dynamic, engaging and, also importantly, available 24/7. In our opinion, it is the golden formula of our esports offering, which is proving its effectiveness by constant growth of end-users of our in-house tournaments as well as our client pool.
BETER’s in-house esports tournaments have their own community of players and fans, they have active social media, and a good reputation ensured by strong integrity procedures we implemented. But we don’t stop developing them to cater to our demanding next-gen audience — we test and add new disciplines, open new arenas for players, and enhance live-streaming experiences with features like in-play stats.
For instance, we launched additional efootball games between national teams, for those playing at the 2022 World Cup. Our clients have already reported that it was a very successful move, which increased not only engagement but also the betting volume for them. We were confident in this effect as, according to our observations, major sport events accelerate cybersport activity.
How did BETER decide which games to choose for its betting product?
BETER’s ESportsBattle product includes several key disciplines — efootball, ebasketball, ehockey, CS:GO, Dota 2 and some additional esports disciplines we are going to launch in the nearest future.
The first three were chosen because their traditional forms are very popular, which is why their esports versions are becoming popular too. Another reason why efootball, ebasketball, and ehockey are becoming popular is because of fast online tournaments which meet the needs of next-gen audiences and give them more engagement.
BETER provides global esports odds for the games that are most popular in world tournaments, such as League of Legends, CS:GO, Dota 2, and many others. These three games account for 80/90% of all global esports bets in the industry.
We also offer variety in CS:GO as well, because we cater for 5×5 player formats. In total, BETER covers more than 20 games across esports, with more to be added soon.
In January 2023 we also launched Dota2 tournaments. New tournaments run for 11 days each, with five teams battling in a round-robin format with a single elimination final. We provide 120 best-of-three matches per month across the entire tournament series.
How do you ensure that integrity is maintained when organising a large volume of tournaments across multiple games?
The reliability of tournaments and principles of fair play are core tenets of our business. Therefore, we are constantly refining BETER’s integrity policy to ensure the safety of our partners, employees, and sports & esports community.
During the last year, we implemented various solutions and robust policies based on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommendations, so our clients can have absolute confidence in the transparency of BETER’s live content.
To name a few procedures we always follow, we have a mandatory pre-employment screening of the tournament’s participants and a compulsory integrity educational programme which includes simulations of real-life scenarios. We also do a permanent exchange on integrity-related issues with operators and other stakeholders, and our in-house Integrity Operation Center works round-the-clock.
Our in-house esports tournaments comply with our integrity policies, and implementation and compliance with BETER’s integrity policy are mandatory for all tournament organisers who partner with us.
Do you see your new products as a signal of the growing popularity of esports as a whole?
Definitely yes. The betting industry follows global trends. Esports became very popular in the last few decades, got recognition as a fashionable profession, and built a system of federations and a calendar of tournaments with well-known players, teams, and impressive prizes. Our industry could not ignore all the above, and the growing number of esports fans created a demand for additional entertainment options.
It’s important to mention that esports is no longer seen as a niche alternative to mainstream sporting events but is on the list of basic assets players are looking for at sportsbooks. Esports is one of our flagship products, and we plan to continue developing it and this sector in the betting industry in general.
How do different esports products help bookmakers enter the esports betting sector?
BETER provides operators with ready-to-market products, buys official data, ensures transparency with fair matches, and allows fast, engaging products that are available 24/7. We cover all the aspects of the esports product.
Early in 2022, we launched our iFrame solution that’s designed to provide users with a UX and UI tailor-made for esports fans. The iFrame solution is easy to use for those bookmakers wanting to enter the esports betting industry. They can get this comprehensive turnkey solution and integrate it into their own platform pretty fast.
What are some of the advantages of fast-esports betting products? How do these products benefit the esports and betting industries?
Fast content, be it sports or esports, is something the new generation of players is seeking. They want to be entertained anytime they go online. That’s why at BETER, we produce such content 24/7, providing simultaneous live streams, so the end customer can choose the game, team, or player they like or even follow a few of them at a time.
Our partners and their players already had a chance to evaluate the advantages of fast content. If someone prefers football, they can watch the e-version of it anytime, bet on their favourite team and get the results almost instantly. Players who are big fans of CS:GO or Dota 2 can watch and bet on these events because we feature these titles in our esports offer.
The betting industry is all about the entertainment that goes with the sports passion. Fast esports events enrich the industry by offering the growing audience of esports bettors dynamic and highly engaging content that is available on sportsbooks round-the-clock.
What are your goals and ambitions for 2023? Are there plans to expand BETER’s esports division?
We’re looking to further expand our portfolio in each one of our business lines, adding new disciplines, formats, and features, working on new ways of offering engagement and having a first-class experience to the end customers of our content.
We’ll also expand geographically in terms of our venues and our player base — we are basically planning to grow in all dimensions. We’ve got quite an ambitious road map. In terms of the esports vertical, the first quarter of 2023 we also launched our in-house Dota 2 tournaments and new features are coming to our iFrame solution.
Also, in order to enhance and improve bettor` engagement rate, we took the decision to be the first on the market to release a new kind of betting content for Dota 2 ahead of the Lima Major 2023 – duels in dynamic format. Dynamic duels aim to keep bettors engaged not only with the game but with the operator as well. As a result, we saw that bet volume on dynamic duels is three times more compared to duels in the next map format.
I believe that in the next few years, we’re going to see a further expansion of the share of esports bettors in the overall betting market. For us with our product, this is the right time to grow. That’s partly why we’re planning to enlarge our in-house esports tournament streams, which are already available around the clock, and continue development of our global esports offering.
The original interview was published in The Esports Journal.