Despite the Coronavirus Pandemic which has greatly affected many industries in the world, esports and the gaming industry have been exceptionally resilient. While live sports were absent in the midst of the pandemic, global consumers quickly turned to esports and online gaming for entertainment accessible from home. Japanese people were no exception to this global trend.
Earlier this year, the Japanese government announced a plan aimed at driving the domestic esports industry with an expected annual benefit of $2.6 billion (USD) by 2025. In the second quarter, PlayBrain reportedly raised fresh $6 million funds to grow esports in Japan.
Japan is fast catching up in esports regardless of having been a latecomer in comparison to its Asian neighbours such as China and South Korea. The esports revenue in the country was over $56 million in 2019 and the growth forecast is more than double, $141 million by 2024.
The pandemic further heightened the public interest in esports, taking the spotlight in Japanese media as the current corona situation continues.
Meanwhile, Japanese public gambling is thriving as well regardless of a drop in domestic household consumption caused by COVID-19. In the practice of social distancing, Japanese gamblers swiftly shifted to wager on horses and powerboats online.
Gambling in Japan has been a multi-billion dollar industry. On top of Japan’s love for Pachinko, Japanese obsession with horse racing is unstoppable, boasting revenues of $27 billion in 2019 with a steady increase over the past five consecutive years.
What is more, it’s not only the nation’s public gambling that is experiencing a boost, but foreign-owned iGaming operators are taking shares of the giant Japan market. An increasing number of offshore betting sites are attracting Japanese players to wager on a wide range of sports from J-League to Sumo.
Needless to say, the growth of esports and online betting go hand in hand. The Corona pandemic has ushered in dramatic growth and opportunities in online betting as well. Without live sports to bet on, the spike in demand for esports betting became evident.
As a matter of fact, esports betting operator, Luckbox benefited from the 500% surge in esports betting during the peak of Corona lockdown. In May, the company successfully raised $2.8 million in preparation for a listing on the Toronto Venture Exchange. Many of the sports betting providers such as DraftKings and bet365 have quickly enhanced their offerings in the esports market.
Looking at esports and online gaming scenes worldwide, these industries have been steadily evolving and shown astounding growth in recent years. The combination of increased home time and social distancing due to COVID-19 is likely to continue to drive higher demand for gaming leisure. Both esports and the online gaming industry are presented with fresh opportunities to boost their businesses in Japan, as the trend of growing interest in both sectors looks to continue to grow in the near future.
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