As the sports betting industry in the US continues to rise, questions regarding both sporting integrity and mental safeguarding have become increasingly prominent.
A notable case this year concerned Evander Kane, a left-winger for the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League (NHL), who was accused by his estranged wife of purposely ‘throwing’ games he was participating in after placing bets on the outcome of the fixtures.
Discussing the case on the latest episode of Martin Lycka’s Safe Bet Show, Game Quitters founder Cam Adair shared his view that athletes must be educated around both gamlbing and video gaming, whilst also touching on the rise of esports and mental health.
Commenting on the accusations against Kane, Adair stated: “The Evander kane story really just illustrates the importance of professional athletes, and even amateur athletes, being educated on issues around gambling and gaming around mental health, and really being able to help these athletes who are some of the most talented skilled players in the world, be able to live successful lives outside the game as well.
“Over the last few years, not just with Evander Kane and gambling, but in many professional leagues, there have been stories of teams really struggling with this new phenomenon of gaming, because on the road for instance, gaming is now used as a way to kind of stay in touch with family back home or it’s a way that players spend time together.”
Moving on, Lycka’s guest shared his opinion on why esports has experienced such a considerable rise in recent years, with the sector now beginning to rival traditional sports in terms of revenue.
The esports and the traditional sporting space have become increasingly intertwined, demonstrated by last week’s announcements by footballers Gerard Pique and Jesse Lingard, both of whom are enhancing their presence in the former sector, whilst clubs such as Wolverhampton Wanderers have expressed an interest.
Adair observed that one of the major advantages the esports scene has over traditional sports from a commercial perspective is that new games are constantly being produced, meaning the sector can continually refresh itself and gain new audiences.
“I certainly think that we’re headed in that direction,” Adair remarked. “To give some context, I am 33 years old and started gaming when I was 11 years old, about 20 years ago. When I was a player at 18 years old there were still very few professional gaming outlets for people to develop careers.
“There were a few leagues in Korea, specifically around the game StarCraft and there was some Counter Strike. Now there are scholarships for kids in high school and university for them to pursue their dream of becoming a professional player.
“Another aspect of esports which I think is underrated, if you look at traditional sports, you have the big leagues – football, American football, hockey, basketball, globally cricket and rugby and tennis – outside of those major sports, it’s not like a new sport comes along and is on the same level in terms of viewership and economics as those other traditional sports. Whereas Fortnite came out a couple of years ago, and the Fortnite World Cup is one of the biggest esports events globally.”