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Sports Betting set to Power eSports Growth in Australia

South by Southwest (SXSW) – an annual conference featuring film, music, gaming and technology – ventured outside the United States for the first time in October 2023.

Leaving its home in Austin, Texas, for the first time in its 30+ years history was not an everyday decision. However, it finally happened as the event’s maiden international appearance since its inauguration in 1987 took place in Sydney.

Following the same format as the established North American concept, the inaugural SXSW Sydney edition encompassed over 1,000 performances, panel sessions and screenings throughout Australia’s most populous city.

This extravagant pop culture event, spanning a seven-day period, attracted nearly 100,000 attendees from 41 countries, providing long-term enthusiasts and new gamers with a unique opportunity to experience the future of the fast-developing gaming sector.

The event had a strong focus on the ever-growing interest in gaming and eSports. The Australian gaming audience found SXSW Sydney’s decision to host its own gaming festival particularly appealing.

With the sole purpose of ‘celebrating the future of the industry and embracing the power and potential of games,’ SXSW Sydney set the stage for an unprecedented gaming convention on Australian soil.

SXSW Sydney

In order to live up to its usual high standard, the convention turned to Luke Lancaster, formerly the head of content and partnerships at ReedPop, for help.

Once the mastermind behind Australia’s largest gaming convention, PAX Aus, he’s now at the helm of SXSW Sydney. But entrusting a man of his stature to throw a spectacle comes at a certain price.

Attending SXSW wasn’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination. The Gaming Badge came at a staggering price of $895. This lofty price gave attendees access to industry names they would’ve probably never reached otherwise. It was a primary reason the event drew significant attention from the gambling industry.

Betting on eSports has become a popular trend, especially after the pandemic put the squeeze on traditional sports. A global lockdown created a thriving environment for the gaming industry, one that the industry’s bigwigs have taken full advantage of to promote their products and link with the leading betting companies.

Traditional sports betting is already spreading across the globe faster than the pandemic. People like to win – it’s an essential part of human nature. And it’s also the industry’s single most significant advantage. Leveraging people’s overwhelming desire for a healthy adrenaline rush and ‘easy money’ is the foundation of the industry.

Let’s use football as an example. As the world’s most popular sport, it’s also the betting industry’s central source of profit. It didn’t take long before the leading players in the field started making lucrative sponsorship deals with the most prominent football clubs. But as some leagues have banned such partnerships, the betting industry strives to find a soft landing.

As a result, the fever now translates to eSports. Just look at Topsport Australia – the country’s ‘home of sports and racing betting,’ as they market themselves. Aware of a new world order, the platform has launched its transition from traditional sports to gaming, knowing a stubborn policy would probably leave them behind in the foreseeable future.

The industry is among the most competitive, with bookies using every tool at their disposal to entice existing customers and attract new players. Betting enthusiasts in Australia can scour MyBettingAustralia to find regulated and licensed sportsbooks. One glance at the top websites is enough to realise how horse racing still occupies centre stage.

However, it’s only a matter of time before gaming reaches the heights of its competitors. Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s wealthiest countries, has taken concrete steps towards becoming a gaming hub.

Similar to their world-shattering investment in the Saudi Pro League over the past 12 months, the kingdom is hellbent on ascending to the gaming throne. When there’s money, there’s interest, and the Middle East leaders have lots of it.

Gaming is the world’s next megatrend. It’s already here, and it’s growing at an exponential rate. SXSW Sydney was the latest example of its sterling rise.

Let’s put the unparalleled interest in the convention in context – people were ready to part with $1,295 to get a Platinum Badge. For those unfamiliar with the concept, the Platinum Badge is an all-access pass, unlike the aforementioned base-level Gaming Badge.

Proud of the event’s resounding success in 2023, SXSW Sydney will return to Australia in October 2024. Since we’re living in uncertain times of galloping inflation, it’s almost impossible to predict how much money you’ll need to allocate to attend the upcoming convention.

But that’s the thing. Gaming attracts money, and so does the betting industry. It’s a perfect match destined to forge one of the most lucrative partnerships the world has ever seen.

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