U.K. bookmaker Paddy Power is breaking new ground in the gambling world by taking bets on the outcome of individual videogames, beginning with a “heavyweight championship” between two of the country’s top Super Street Fighter IV players.
Ryan Hart and Femi Adeboye are two of the most respected Street Fighters in the U.K. and on April 29th, they’re going head-to-head to determine the better man, once and for all. And for the first time ever, fans across the country will be able to take their enjoyment of videogames to a whole new level by laying money on the outcome.
That’s right, videogames have finally hit the big-time thanks to Paddy Power, the U.K.’s leading retail and online bookmaker, which is taking bets on the outcome of the fight. Hart is favored to win the fight at 1/3, while Adeboye has been given 2/1 odds; fans can also bet on the match results, with Hart again heavily favored to win at 5/6 odds, and the time of the fastest knockout round.
“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.”
Hart, known as “Prodigal Son” in Street Fighter circles, has entered over 700 Street Fighter since 1994 and won more than 450. He took the 2009 Capcom U.K. and Capcom Euro Championship titles and also recently set a Guinness World Record by beating 169 consecutive Super Street Fighter IV challengers over four hours. Little is known about Adeboye but we’re assuming that he’s currently employed as a goon for a London loan shark.