eSports, or electronic sports, are competitive video games that have become a professional and popular form of entertainment. Millions of players and spectators engage in esports by playing, watching, or betting on the outcomes of matches. But what are the psychological factors that influence the behavior of esports bettors? How do they make their wagering decisions, and what are the risks and benefits of esports betting?
One of the main psychological aspects of esports betting is the motivation of the bettors. According to a systematic literature review by Pedraza-Ramirez et al. (2020), esports bettors can be motivated by various factors, such as:
- Entertainment: Betting on esports can provide excitement, fun, and enjoyment for the bettors, especially if they are fans of the games or the players.
- Socialization: Betting on esports can facilitate social interaction and communication with other bettors, online or offline, and create a sense of belonging to a community.
- Challenge: Betting on esports can challenge the bettors’ skills, knowledge, and abilities and allow them to test their predictions and strategies against others.
- Money: Betting on esports can offer financial rewards for the bettors, either as a source of income or as a way of enhancing their self-esteem and status.
- Escape: Betting on esports can help bettors cope with stress, boredom, or negative emotions and distract them from their problems or difficulties.
Another psychological aspect of esports betting is the cognitive process of the bettors. When making their wagering decisions, esports bettors may rely on various sources of information, such as:
- Game-related factors: These include the game genre, rules, mechanics, features, difficulty, and complexity of the esports games that are being bet on.
- Player-related factors: These include the player characteristics, such as skill level, performance, style, personality, reputation, and popularity of the esports players that are being bet on.
- Team-related factors: These include the team characteristics, such as cohesion, communication, coordination, strategy, synergy, and history of the esports teams that are being bet on.
- Context-related factors: These include situational factors, such as time, location, format, stakes, odds, and competition level of the esports matches that are being bet on.
Esports bettors may also use various heuristics or shortcuts to simplify decision-making. For example:
- Availability heuristic: Esports bettors may base their decisions on the most recent or salient information, such as recent results or media coverage of the games or players.
- Representativeness heuristic: Esports bettors may base their decisions on how well the games or players match their expectations or stereotypes, such as game genre preferences or player popularity.
- Anchoring heuristic: Esports bettors may base their decisions on an initial reference point that influences their subsequent judgments, such as opening odds or previous bets.
- Confirmation bias: Esports bettors may seek out or interpret information confirming their beliefs or hypotheses about the games or players.
A third psychological aspect of esports betting is the emotional response of the bettors. When engaging in esports betting, bettors may experience various emotions that affect their behavior and outcomes. For example:
- Anticipation: Esports bettors may feel anticipation before placing their bets or watching the matches, which can increase their arousal and interest in the activity.
- Elation: Esports bettors may feel elation when they win their bets or when their favorite games or players perform well, boosting their mood and confidence in their abilities.
- Frustration: Esports bettors may feel frustration when they lose their bets or when their favorite games or players perform poorly, which can lower their mood and self-esteem and increase their aggression or impulsivity.
- Regret: Esports bettors may feel regret when they realize they made a bad decision or missed an opportunity to win more money, which can cause them to rethink their choices or try to recoup their losses.
The psychological effects of esports betting on the brain are similar to those of other forms of gambling. According to a blog post by UBC TechNut (2022), when subjects gamble, various neurotransmitter systems are affected within the brain, with prominent neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin released during betting. These reward systems affect the brain throughout gambling, including wins and losses that a bettor may experience during gameplay.
Esports betting can have both positive and negative consequences for the bettors. On the one hand, esports betting can provide entertainment, socialization, challenge, money, and escape for the bettors and enhance their cognitive and emotional skills. On the other hand, esports betting can also lead to addiction, financial problems, social isolation, mental health issues, and legal troubles for the bettors and impair their cognitive and emotional functioning. Therefore, esports bettors should know the psychological factors influencing their behavior and outcomes and practice responsible and informed wagering decisions.