By Tom Nightingale
The gaming industry keeps moving forward, and eSports is the newest kid on the block.
Luckbox, a new member of the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA), has kept a keen eye on Canadian gaming developments for the last year. In light of the latest steps in sports betting and iGaming, the business sees the expansive nationwide eSports market as a hive of opportunity.
“We know that eSports is a large and growing market in Canada, and fans are demanding betting on matches,” CEO Quentin Martin tells Canadian Gaming Business. “We’ve built such a fantastic North American and primarily Canadian investor base and we’re so optimistic about this community, it has such fantastic eSports grassroots programs, companies, and venues. We can’t wait to work with this infrastructure – Canada has huge potential as a licensed market.”
Built by veterans
Luckbox’s mission statement is to offer players a unique and legal platform built on real-money betting, live streams, and stats on all major eSports and traditional sports for both desktop and mobile. It offers a B2C platform and leverages shared technology, data, and resources, as well as a custom-built in-house interface, to provide an extensive range of betting options for eSports tournaments. As Martin puts it, their intention is to provide solutions for “eSports betting done right.”
Luckbox was built by a team that boasts vast experience in the iGaming industry, including veterans of PokerStars and the Stars group. Martin himself was an esteemed professional gamer as a teenager, rising to UK number one, a position he replicated in Canada during his time in Vancouver. Briefly world number three, he then became a professional poker player for about eight years. The former PokerStars Head of Social Gaming explains his personal aim was to take that gambling pedigree and experience and create something unique, appealing, and lasting.
Luckbox started out in the Isle of Man around three years ago, co-founded by Martin’s former PokerStars colleagues Lars Lien and Mike Stevens. Combining the expertise of Martin and his colleagues with a passion for online gambling and sports, the company has grown rapidly. Today, it serves eSports fans in more than 80 territories worldwide, and in November 2020, the company was named Rising Star at the EGR Operator Awards.
Taking advantage of a surging sector
By 2021, eSports is nothing new.
The shift towards online and mobile gaming has been prevalent for years leading up to this point, and Gen Z, the latest generation of gamers, engages more frequently and prominently with eSports than ever before.
“Esports has come a long way from professional computer game tournaments,” notes Martin. “There’s now very much a thriving betting scene. It was a bit of a Wild West a few years back, essentially made up largely of betting on in-game virtual items. It’s moved on remarkably since then.” He adds the eSports industry has been growing 25 per cent year-on-year for the last few years, while eSports betting is at 44 per cent growth year-on-year, according to Goldman Sachs.
“If you can put those two together, and it’s a massive single revenue stream in eSports,” Martin says.
Indeed, Luckbox observed the spike in players shifting from betting on sports to eSports in 2020 and has grown its customer base on its eSports betting platform by 500 per cent. As with the entire gaming industry in 2020, Martin notes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic must be considered: “With the pandemic, eSports just exploded.” says Martin.
Eyes on Canadian growth
With the developments in advancing single-event sports betting and iGaming that have been in the works in recent months, Martin and his team are turning their eyes to their Canadian operation. Once it can become available in Canada, Luckbox will be a fully licensed eSports betting platform offering wagers on a variety of popular eSports markets around the world. It has, says Martin, one of the widest offerings of matches, titles, and markets to bet on in the world, and also now offers betting on over 100 traditional sports. Later this year, the company hopes to add casino to its portfolio.
“In this space in the industry, there are a lot of older companies with outdated interfaces,” notes Martin. “Ours is simple, enjoyable, easy-to-use, and attractive. We speak the customers’ language in today’s world, that’s really our main value proposition.”
Martin emphasizes that Luckbox has “a real passion” for Canada, too, demonstrated by the fact that its parent company, Real Luck Group, is now headquartered in Calgary, as well as by securing membership with the CGA.
It’s well-documented how large the offshore market is estimated to be in Canada, and the CGA and other industry advocates have been consistently vocal on the clear benefits offered by the legalization of single-event sports betting and the further liberalization of provincial iGaming markets. In short, the message has been that Canada is missing a huge opportunity right now, and Martin subscribes to that viewpoint. Luckbox hopes to see the provinces work with companies like itself to bring revenues back to the legal market. “It has to be a collaborative approach,” Martin stresses. “We want to proactively contribute to the Canadian market, and we hope to be a prominent part of that collaborative future. If the massive jurisdiction of Ontario leads the way with a particularly liberalized market, we’re hopeful other provinces may follow suit.”
Martin emphasizes that having worked with multiple jurisdictions around the world on licensing, Luckbox knows the impact of having an authoritative body lobbying on behalf of the industry, embracing new developments, and helping to shape responsible gaming and the path forward should not be understated.
Martin notes the company is joining the CGA at a “key inflection point in the Canadian betting industry.”
“We hope we can help empower the CGA as well as get the benefits,” he concludes. “We see membership as a badge of honour and trust and a way to show the seriousness of our intent.”