Considering eSports is fiercely competitive nowadays, with professional teams and pro athletes battling for glory, it was considered better than virtual sports. More so, eSports had a human touch, unlike virtual sports simulated by computers. This is how esports betting blossomed worldwide, including in this former Soviet republic.
To fully comprehend the history of esports betting, the best place to start the conversation is the history of gambling itself. Gambling dates back to the 1920s when the first casinos were opened in Baku.
But they were closed in 1928. After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, they reappeared, this time in dozens, including establishments that offered sports betting. Unfortunately, gambling, including betting, was again abolished in 1998.
But after a 13-year ban, gambling was back in 2011 to help the government develop the sports sector using tax revenues from gambling. However, not all forms of gambling were allowed. Sports betting, including online sports betting, was among the permitted forms of gambling. But it was a state monopoly operated by Topaz. However, at the time, esports betting was still in its infancy, so few players wagered on eSports.
After eSports betting websites started blossoming in the next few years, Azerbaijanis began developing an interest in this emerging market. But unfortunately, the only legal betting site, Topaz, had not ventured into eSports betting.
Esports Betting Nowadays in Azerbaijan
With eSports gaming and betting growing, a few punters started wagering on offshore betting sites as early as 2013. But the COVID-19 pandemic was a game-changer when governments enforced lockdowns and containment measures, and bettors only had virtual sports as the only alternative.
But then, operators saw the opportunity and shifted into eSports on a full scale. Like magic, players fell in love with eSports betting as there were plenty of events to bet on once again.
Today, Topaz has eSports betting markets, but its eSports catalog is not as developed as that of offshore betting sites. This is the reason most eSports betting is on international bookies. Although there are no figures on the number of eSports betting fans or sales, eSports betting has a considerable market share.