Esports fans are a target audience for gambling companies wanting to attract the next generation of bettors to their products. As with other sports, professional esports teams have commercial sponsorship arrangements. Our paper seeks to document the level of gambling sponsorship of the world’s top esports teams.
A systematic review of the commercial arrangements between the top 20 esports clubs across three of the most followed esports titles was undertaken: Dota 2, League of Legends (LoL) and CS:GO. Data were scraped online relating to the top 20 teams competing at their respective major tournaments between October and November 2021.
Half of the esports teams in Dota 2 and CS:GO’s world championship events in 2021 were sponsored by gambling companies. Teams sponsored by gambling companies have a combined total of 25 868 912 followers across three major social media channels. No LoL teams were sponsored by gambling companies, yet sibling teams within the CS:GO and Dota 2 competitions were.
The relationship between gambling companies’ sponsorship in esports should be considered in line with the calls for change in the relationship between football and gambling with gambling as a public health issue at its heart.