Olympics to Give Bettors More Options Through eSports, Flag Football

Posted on: October 17, 2023, 07:37h. 

Last updated on: October 17, 2023, 11:04h.

The times are changing and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is trying to keep up. A new series of games are coming to the Olympics, which also means that sports bettors will have many more options available.

eSports players participate in a live competition in front of an audience
eSports players participate in a live competition in front of an audience. The IOC has launched an initiative that could bring eSports to the Olympic Games. (Image: World Football Summit)

In a significant move toward embracing the rapidly growing world of eSports, the IOC unveiled plans to establish the Olympic Esports Games. The announcement follows the success of the inaugural Olympic Esports Series, which took place during June’s Olympic Esports Week. It’s also the culmination of years of discussion on the subject.

In addition to the potential arrival of eSports at the Olympics, the IOC has confirmed several other sports will appear. Among these are flag football, cricket, and more.

eSports Gets Olympic Recognition

The Olympic Esports Series, overseen by the IOC, featured nine titles that departed from conventional eSports choices, instead focusing on sports simulation. Notable inclusions were Virtual Regatta and Virtual Taekwondo, but none of the most popular titles, like CS:GO or League of Legends.

IOC President Thomas Bach expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the series, highlighting its achievement of more than 500K participants and attracting more than six million views. The majority of viewers demonstrated a keen interest in the novel approach to competitive gaming.

While the Olympic Esports Series garnered acclaim, it faced criticism from segments of the eSports community because of the absence of traditional eSports titles in its lineup. The addition of a special Fortnite mode, two months after the initial game selection announcement, stirred debates about the event’s alignment with the core ethos of eSports.

As the IOC ventures into uncharted territory with the prospect of the Olympic Esports Games, details about the event’s format and the specific titles to be included remain undisclosed. This ambitious initiative represents a significant leap forward for the IOC.

Data from Global Market Outlook released this week shows the global eSports betting was worth $682.63 million last year. Forecasts indicate it could expand at a compound annual growth rate of 24.92% through 2028, reaching $2.59 billion.

American Football Gains International Acceptance

The IOC has approved the inclusion of flag football, cricket, baseball-softball, lacrosse, and squash in the Olympic Games. This decision marks a significant milestone for cricket, which is set to make a return to the Olympics after being eliminated in 1900.

The inclusion of lacrosse in the Olympic lineup is equally noteworthy, as the sport hasn’t appeared on the Olympic stage since 1908. The decision reflects the IOC’s commitment to reviving traditional sports and diversifying the Games to appeal to a broader global audience.

Flag football is almost identical to American football, except physical contact is almost completely off-limits. Instead, players wear a belt with loose-hanging flags, and a player is “tackled” if an opponent is able to remove the flag.

Some other changes are also underway. Weightlifting and modern pentathlon will continue to be part of the Games. However, breakdancing, which will debut in the 2024 Paris Games, won’t feature in subsequent Olympic competitions.

In India alone, cricket reportedly generates around $150 million in betting revenue. Football is the second-most popular sport for bettors, right behind soccer. Seeing these in the Olympics will also fuel new channels for global sportsbooks.