ESI Gambling Report: A new opportunity in the NBA 2K League

While sportsbooks typically only host odds on a select handful of esports, the barely two week old NBA 2K League has already made the cut - and it's looking like a good pick.

As esports as a collective continue to surpass a number of sports in viewership, its lucrative betting precinct is growing rapidly alongside it.

Sportsbooks have carried markets on esports for quite some time now and whilst at most you’ll typically come across odds on only a select handful of esports, a brand new market was recently unchained into this hemisphere – the NBA 2K League. Believe it or not, the basketball league’s virtual equivalent has a great deal to offer in the betting galaxy, so it’s somewhat unsurprising to see the title appear across so many bookmakers spreads so early. As such we took a closer look as to what distinguishes the newest esports addition as a viable betting contest in this week’s ESI Gambling Report.

There’s a lot of speculation as to how large the esports betting market actually is at the moment; Business Insider clocked the industry at $900 million at the beginning of this year while a recent report from Juniper Research estimated the combined value of skin gambling and loot boxes would equate to roughly $50 billion by 2020. Whilst this report seems to have undoubtedly gotten carried away and prone to serious overstatement, whatever the actual number is, the market is there and it’s growing. Moreover it’s to be expected that bookmakers are among those factions trying to wedge a hand into the honey pot. One of the most boisterous endeavors in sports and esports collaboration recently gave birth to the NBA 2K League, and companies are already starting to harvest the opportunities. 

2K enters the ring

When seeking to bet on esports, you’ll encounter a familiar group of suspects; League of Legends, Dota and CS:GO are among the most prevalent in the scene, and it’s also normal to see a bit of variation in that lineup across different sportsbooks. Some esports just don’t fit the bill when it comes to betting though – this ultimately depends on the market, volume of events and audience that will determine whether or not a title can be a sustainable betting line. As the highly anticipated 2K League commenced less than just two weeks ago, we’ve already seen the name featured in full across a catalog of bookmakers. Popular books parading NBA 2K on their roster include EGB, Betway, Pinnacle, Arcane Bet, and Xbet, among others. Although the newest title has only just opened its betting market for business, we’re wagering the 2K League will continue to pop up on other sportsbooks and here’s why:

Why bookmakers are betting on 2K

The swift influx of bookmakers opening markets for 2K seems a bit out of the ordinary considering its fresh launch, however, its implementation isn’t unreasoned.

NBA 2K offers a number of advantages to sportsbooks that routine esports don’t. First off, the 2K League has a season structure that mirrors the NBA – providing a consistency unmatched by many other esports. While most esports revolve around tournament schedules that occur somewhat sporadically, the 2K League’s first season will feature 15 weeks of matchups where multiple teams will clash at a time. This system affords bookmakers a reliable streamline of bets to offer customers, bolstering their esports division quite significantly.

Las Vegas Review

Betting on basketball has historically been a widely popular activity, so the transition towards its digital counterpart actually makes a lot of sense. With the 2K League’s similarity to its predecessor, the new market also has the chance at drawing in some of its traditional NBA clientele into esports; a bridge a lot of organisations are vigorously trying to build. Above all, NBA 2K is familiar – it’s a game reflecting a global sport we’ve come to love over two centuries, thus the crossover between basketball and 2K is embraced.

UltraPlay announces 2K live betting

In a recent announcement by UltraPlay on May 9th, the online betting solutions provider made NBA 2K League pre-match and live betting possible through the company’s esports data feed. UltraPlay would become the first to offer in-play betting options on the emerging esports league – an element likely to heighten its betting plane. Basketball traditionally offers a collection of in-play lines that allows bettors to wager on more than one aspect of a match; being that the NBA and 2K are essentially one in the same, the live betting option should be a complete and thrilling addition once fully-implemented.

Why bet on 2K?

As a punter, the 2K League is just as enticing as it is for bookmakers; for one, there’s a relatively low-barrier of entry for those looking to get into it. Regardless of whether you’re a newcomer to NBA 2K or an expert, its resemblance to a timeless global sport makes it comparatively much less intimidating than complex esports titles like Dota or League of Legends. Being that the 2K League is so fresh, bookmakers are still trying to finetune the odds; a bettor with some knowledge in this area may be able to turn a quick profit while still in its adolescent stages. We perceive that the 2K League will be an entry for bettors looking to take their introductory steps in esports.

Esports Insider says: Overall, the 2K League would appear to be a great addition to the everyday esports betting cast; the game hits all of the points that would qualify it as a blue-chip betting market. The 2K League’s strongest attributes are in the form of its consistent schedule, volume of games and familiarity that truly establishes itself as a colossal opportunity for bookmakers.