Esports Toto is moving forward with the goal of introducing it to the LCK in 2024.
Inven has confirmed through interviews that the Korea Sports Promotion Organization, LCK Corporation (hereinafter LCK), and the Korea Esports Association are actively negotiating to introduce esports betting from the LCK Spring Split in 2024. They plan to organize the relevant system within the year and include esports in the sports betting system.
Sports betting is a national policy project operated by the Korea Sports Promotion Organization to raise funds for national sports promotion. It is a method of issuing sports promotion voting rights and returning rebates to those who correctly predict the results of athletic events. The funds raised through the program are used for various facilities and sports-related support for the purpose of promoting physical education.
The inclusion of esports in sports betting has been a constant topic of discussion in the esports industry. The eSports industry has been plagued by the fact that the salaries of professional athletes have increased significantly over the years, while the revenues of gaming organizations have remained relatively flat. If esports are included in sports betting, it is expected that the funds raised from the issuance of voting rights will help professional gaming organizations develop players and conduct marketing business.
The introduction of sports betting in eSports began to be discussed in earnest during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Korea Sports Promotion Agency faced difficulties in operating sports betting sites as professional sports events were continuously canceled due to the coronavirus. On the other hand, e-sports events continued to be played online even during the corona situation, and the NPS was naturally interested in e-sports events. In addition, various side effects such as discovering new sports and raising interest were also expected.
The first game to be discussed as an eSports Toto event was League of Legends. League of Legends perfectly inherited the position of StarCraft and established itself as a global eSport. The LCK, a domestic league, has been running for 11 years now, since March 2012.
The LCK reacted positively to the inclusion of League of Legends as an eSport on Sportsbet. “Including global events such as the Rold Cup, Riot Games spends hundreds of billions of won a year on esports alone,” said an LCK official, explaining that “it is positive for Riot Games if the funds raised by Esports.com are used to develop League of Legends esports.”
However, under the current system, Riot Games cannot directly participate as an organizer of the National Sports Promotion Voting Rights. The National Sports Voting System is a national public service project. In addition, the organizers are the sports associations of each sport, which are all public institutions. Therefore, Riot Games, as a for-profit company, cannot be an organizer of a public service project.
The Korea Sports Promotion Agency and the LCK may be able to resolve this issue with the Korean Esports Association. The Korean Esports Association is an associate member of the Korean Sports Federation and a representative organization for the sport of esports. The LCK entity is exploring various options, including co-hosting the LCK with the Korean Esports Federation starting in 2024. This would allow the Korean Esports Association to qualify as a host organization for the Sports Promotion Voting Rights.
The inclusion of eSports on SportsTokyo is expected to have a positive effect on both the Korea Sports Promotion Agency, the LCK organization, and the Korea Esports Association. The NPS will be able to improve its revenue by discovering new sports and expand its target age group to the MZ generation. The LCK will be able to reduce the cost of promoting League of Legends esports. The Korea Esports Association gets the opportunity to provide public service to promote esports by securing funds. With the interests of the parties aligned, the integration of esports into Sportsbetting is proceeding smoothly and quickly.
When eSports are incorporated into sports betting, the use of the funds generated by Toto is determined by law. First, the profits from domestic leagues will be used to promote professional sports. Professional organizations and gaming teams are eligible for support, and gaming teams can use the money for promotional and marketing expenses or amateur development projects. However, the amount of money raised from sports betting is considered a national fund, and professional gaming organizations can only receive support by obtaining business approval every year.
Profits from overseas competitions such as MSIs and World Championships are used for public service projects to expand the base of youth and amateur esports, or to develop esports. The main organization is the Korea Esports Association, which can be used to run amateur leagues such as the Challengers League and public esports events. The organization must also receive project approval from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to use the funds.
It’s hard to say how much money Toto will make from esports. Officials from the Korea Sports Promotion Organization, Riot Games, and the Korea Esports Association all said it was difficult to estimate the revenue. However, a representative from the association said, “We know that the dividends from sports betting on soccer are around 3 to 4 billion won, baseball is around 15 billion won, and volleyball is around 7 to 8 billion won.” He analyzed that the reason why soccer has high dividends is because it has a large number of matches, including overseas matches.
For eSports Toto to be sustained in the long term, institutional maintenance is also necessary. Since esports have been incorporated into existing sports betting sites, the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of sports companies, which are entities that did not exist before, are not legally defined. In order for sports betting to continue, the system needs to be improved in this area.
Meanwhile, there is still no discussion about adding other esports besides League of Legends. An official from the Korea Esports Association said, “It is true that League of Legends is being considered as a candidate first because it has the most number of matches and fans as the most popular representative of esports worldwide, but if esports are included, domestic esports can also be a candidate. However, it is necessary to meet the main requirements required by the Korea Sports Promotion Agency, such as ensuring that the host organization can hold stable competitions, having the right to register and expunge players, coaches, and referees, establishing and revising competition rules, and being fair. 고스톱 With so many challenges ahead, it is difficult to prioritize many sports at once. It’s a step-by-step approach.”
Regarding the introduction of eSports Toto in 2024, the LCK entity said, “Nothing has been finalized yet. However, if it is included, we will consider it positively because there are many good things for the sustainable growth of the LCK,” said the official position.