Paddy Power, an Ireland-based bookmaker service with a strong presence in Ireland and the UK, is taking bets on a new kind of sport: Video games. Specifically, Super Street Fighter IV, for which Capcom Europe is holding a big championship match between top players Ryan Hart and Femi Adeboye on April 29th. The current odds for the “Outright Winner” bet are 1:3 Hart, 2:1 Adeboye.
According to The Escapist, this is as much about legitimizing video gaming as serious sport as it is about making money on this specific match:
“Videogames are as much a legitimate sport as any other,” a Paddy Power rep said. “We wanted to offer sports fans and games players the ultimate thrill by offering the chance to win big on the outcome of a Super Street Fighter IV competition. If it proves popular, we’ll open further books on other videogame competitions.”
Capcom, which is hosting the digital dust-up at its European headquarters, supports the addition of the event to the Paddy Power lineup as another step toward mainstream acceptance of videogames. “Recognising the game as a legitimate spectator event, as fiercely contested as any sanctioned boxing match, is a huge step for videogames as a whole,” Capcom’s Leo Tan said. “Hopefully this is the start of a new avenue for bookmakers, a new way for games players to enjoy their games and, potentially, a new way for the elite players to get the recognition they deserve.”
Paddy Power’s website, which lists bets on everything from American football and UFC to cricket and snooker to politics and financials, puts the Super Street Fighter IV Specials bets squarely in the “Novelty Bets” category. Could video game betting become less of a novelty and more of a commonplace occurrence in the future? South Korea’s already been there, though any other system of video game betting will need safeguards against the cheating scandals that have stricken South Korean StarCraft gambling.
Incidentally, Super Street Fighter IV will be available for the masses on April 30th.
Here’s Ryan Hart in action at the 2010 Street Fighter World Cup: (he’s playing as Sagat)
And Adeboye as Ibuki:
(via The Escapist)
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