Over the past decade, esports and fantasy sports have become incredibly popular, recording unprecedented levels of success and exceeding all earlier assumptions about their industries. However, there is a widespread misconception that e-gaming (real money gaming) is equivalent to esports, and this confusion often extends to fantasy sports as well. Despite their similarities, these two industries are quite different in terms of gameplay, competition, and format.


According to the British Esports Association, esports refers to an electronic form of competitive gaming. Esports involve human-versus-human gameplay, rather than human-versus-AI. It is rapidly becoming one of the fastest-growing industries of the 21st century. In 2020, esports was estimated to be worth just over £800 million, representing a 15.7% growth from 2019, according to Strive.

Esports involves competitive video games organized into various leagues, where players participate in a series of gaming tournaments. Viewers can watch professional gamers go up against each other in a variety of games, and many competitive video game networks have developed to turn esports into a spectator sport. Esports competitors require a range of skills, including perceptual keenness, interpretive work, and intricate hand-eye coordination. The growth of these skills has led to the professionalization of esports, with players requiring extensive training to hone their craft.

Despite its success, esports is fundamentally different from real-money gaming, or i-gaming, which refers to online betting on real-world events with real-world currency. I-gaming comprises Internet for-profit games such as online poker, online bingo, online casinos, sports betting, and lotteries. While i-gaming shares similarities with esports, the two industries are fundamentally distinct.

Fantasy Sports

Fantasy sports, on the other hand, are quite different from competitive gaming. CNN describes fantasy sports as a digital selection process, allowing players to choose a team based on real-world statistics, research, and relative analysis. Users can typically join private or public leagues by signing up on a relevant platform. In this form of gaming, success is dependent on external factors that are outside the player’s control, as opposed to esports, which is a talent-based competition.

Fantasy sports have often been confused with esports because of the measure of skill associated with the virtual space of rivalry based on real sports. The primary philosophy behind fantasy games is that it is a shot in the dark based on research and analysis, while esports is a talent-based contest.

Future of Esports and Fantasy Sports

Despite their differences, both esports and fantasy sports are expected to continue growing in popularity in the coming years. The esports industry is set to become an even more massive industry, with plans for documentaries, animated, and realistic movies based around esports in the works. Esports is also rapidly becoming recognized as a sport, with India winning a bronze medal in the 2018 Asian Games, where esports was a demonstration title. It is soon to be a medal sport in the upcoming Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games 2021 (Thailand).

However, the growth of esports and fantasy sports also raises concerns about the structural boundaries between real-money gaming and esports. The growth of digital entertainment and real-money gaming during the COVID-19 lockdowns in India in 2020 has sparked worries that the line between real-money gaming (i.e., gambling) and esports may become indistinguishable if not addressed. The differences between these two industries must be recognized to ensure that they are regulated appropriately, protecting both players and fans alike.

In conclusion, esports and fantasy sports are two rapidly growing industries with distinct differences. While esports is a competitive video game, organized into various leagues, and requires talent and training, fantasy sports rely on research and analysis and depend on individual player statistics and performance. As these industries continue to grow and evolve, it will be exciting to see how they shape the future of sports and entertainment.