Recently, the esports betting industry has been booming. With that being said, multiple traditional bookies, as well as exclusive esports betting sites, are offering odds on esports tournaments, matches and other aspects of esports. Our team has compiled you some of the best options when it comes to esports betting websites. We review everything from the best free bet to the security of the esports betting site.
Despite being available in some form or another since the 90s, competitive esports have only entered the mainstream in the early 2010s. Yet, their rise has been monumental and the speed at which it happened is unprecedented for any other competitive activity. With such a rise in popularity, eSports have also attracted the attention of the online sports betting industry.
Best eSports Betting Sites
Bet365 is one of the leading online sportsbooks in the gambling industry and one of the first high-profile betting websites to incorporate esports in its betting market selection. With great promotions and an excellent service, bet365 is the ideal choice for most punters. Operating in dozens of countries and supporting a large number of currencies, this sportsbook is accessible to just about anyone.
- Well established brand
- Accepts players from all over the world
- Support in multiple languages
- Covers all major eSports tournaments
- Comprehensive mobile app
Betway$30 Free BetsWeekly Bonus
Betway has a history of supporting esports as no other gambling website has done in the past. Being one of the most popular sportsbooks in the Internet, Betway can offer you much in the way of esports betting. Here, you will have access to a large betting market and a good deal of worthwhile promotions.
- Enchanced odds for eSports
- Main eSports games covered
- Multiple banking options available
- Well-known esports brand
- Special CS:GO promotions
Unikrn$50 BonusOn First Deposit
Unikrn is a revolutionary gambling website, solely focused on esports. At this bookmaker, you can place bets on the most popular esports matches in the competitive scene and the implementation of cryptocurrency makes it accessible to users who would normally not be able to engage in sports betting.
- Superb selection of games to bet on
- Unique UnikoinSilver currency
- Great rewards including skins available
- Regular jackpot prizes
- In-play (live) betting available
GG.BETUp to $75150% Match Bonus
GG.BET seeks to provide esports enthusiasts with a top-notch gambling platform, featuring all the latest matches and the most popular leagues. With its business model solely focused on esports, you will hardly find a website better suited to fulfil your gambling needs.
- Great esports event coverage
- Just $5 minimum deposit
- Multi-deposit bonus package available
- Ultra fast betting platform
- Regular sports and slots available too
Esports Betting2 x $15Risk Free Bets
Esports Betting is the perfect gambling website for those wishing to wager on their favorite CS:GO, Dota 2, League of Legends and Overwatch teams. Esports Betting is leagues ahead of traditional bookmaker websites where esports is concerned and it is capable of providing you with a top-notch betting experience.
- Esports betting industry veteran
- Various loaylty promotions
- Great selection of banking methods
- Superb bonus terms
- Regular casino and sports are also available
Sportsbooks offer Free Bets on Esports.
The terminology of ‘Free bets’ refers to a ‘welcoming bet’ offered by a sports bookie to introduce a player to their bookie instead of a competing one, in an essence, it’s a method to attract you to use Betway instead of Bet365 for example.
For example, Betway esports, offers $30, £30, €30 free bets on signups, however, there are some things you need to do to complete the free bet. To activate it, you must:
- Open an account with Betway
- Deposit a minimum of £10/€10/$10 within 7 days of sign up.
- Once you’ve deposited the value above, the free bet will be added to your account.
- You must place bets totalling the value of your deposit.
- Betway only allows the free bet within 7 days of deposit.
- You can’t use the bet for more than one bet.
Modern ‘sports’ betting bookies aren’t as generous as they once were, however, with the rise of esports, we may see a rise in free bets once all the esports betting sites start betting with free bet offers.
Esports are competitive video games brought to the professional level. Esports is a term used to describe a variety of different video games, rather than any particular one. There are several different game genres that are commonly played at the professional level, traditionally FPS (first-person shooters), MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), strategy, cards, and fighting games, though sports and racing games are on the rise, as well.
Teams are formed for the purposes of competing in tournaments and these normally bear the name of the organization funding them but there are a few stand-alone teams. Much like with traditional sports, sponsors provide funding and equipment to teams and organizations to promote their brands. These include giant conglomerates such as Audi’s endorsement of Astralis and Betway’s sponsoring of Ninjas in Pyjamas. Gambling brands are one of the most commonly seen sponsors in the eSports industry, alongside computer hardware manufacturers.
As far as the players are concerned, they are treated like professional athletes for the most part. Teams offer salaries to signed players and provide them with the necessary equipment and hardware to play. Top-tier teams often provide lodging for their players, known as a gaming house, where all members of a team live and practice together. This custom began in South Korea with Starcraft competitors and carried over to the West.
Tournaments are hosted regularly across all different types of eSports and they generally fall into three categories. Minor tournaments are small-scale events, which feature smaller prize pools and are normally attended by mid-tier teams who have not yet made a name for themselves in the international scene. They can be played both online and offline at a physical venue, depending on the tournament.
Major tournaments are premium events where no expense is spared for production and quality. These events offer large prize pools, typically ranging anywhere from $100,000 to $1,000,000 or more. These are attended by the best of the best and are hosted at real-world establishments, such as sports arenas or theaters. Viewer attendance can range from several hundred to tens of thousands, while online viewership can go up in the millions. This type of event is hosted by a team of professional commentators, analysts and journalists.
Qualifier tournaments are hosted with the intention of deciding who is most worthy of attending the Major events. While these may feature a cash prize of some sort, teams aim to win a seed (a place) in the larger tournament. Depending on the Major event, Qualifier tournaments may be held over multiple continents and countries. Most of the Esports betting sites like Unikrn, Betway, Bet365, Pinnacle and William Hill allow players to place bets on such events.
Types of eSports and Popular Leagues
As mentioned above, there are many different competitive video games under the eSports definition. Below, we will cover the most popular eSports that are featured at many online betting sites.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
The Counter-Strike series of games is one of the most well-known in the world and it is one of the old-school eSports titles. Dating back to the year 2000, Counter-Strike began as a mod of Valve’s Half-Life game. It quickly grew in popularity and Valve purchased the rights to the game. The competitive format is a five-on-five team shooter, where one team plays as Terrorists and the other as Counter-Terrorists. The goal of the Terrorists is to plant a bomb on one of two bomb sites, or alternatively, eliminate the enemy team. The aim of the Counter-Terrorist team is to stop the Terrorists, either by defusing the bomb or killing the enemy before they can plant it. Both teams play up to 30 rounds – 15 on each side – and the team that scores 16 rounds first is declared the winner.
Precision, skill and tactics are key to Counter-Strike and the lack of random elements in the game make it a compelling and entertaining eSports title. There are multiple leagues of Counter-Strike, with the most prominent being ESL Pro, ECS, Dreamhack, ESEA and more. It is one of the most viewed competitive games in the world and practically all gambling websites offer bets on it.
League of Legends
League of Legends is arguably the largest eSport in the world in terms of viewership and player base. It was developed by Riot Games in the late 2000’s, inspired by the original Defense of the Ancients mod for Warcraft 3. Riot took the formula and made it more accessible to the global player base and their revolutionary business model made the game an instant hit. Unlike many other video games at the time, League of Legends was free to download and play. Riot Games made their revenue by selling champions and cosmetics to players. Champions could also be acquired for free by playing the game and earning points.
For those not familiar, League of Legends is a five-on-five team game, where players control unique champions in a fight to destroy the other team’s base. It is a top-down, isometric game where players only have vision of their immediate surroundings and those of friendly characters. With hundreds of different champions available, League of Legends is capable of providing a unique experience with each match and no two games are ever the same.
League of Legends’ popularity has propelled it to become a global phenomenon. Riot Games runs the largest tournaments in the world that come in several different leagues. The LCS (League Championship Series) is by far the largest and most viewed of the bunch. It runs for the better part of the year, including a Spring and Summer Season. The LCS is followed up by the World Championship, which takes part throughout October and November. There are also multiple regional leagues that are also worth taking a look at.
Dota 2 is Valve’s take on the original Defense of the Ancients mod from Warcraft 3. It is the direct competitor to League of Legends and is much closer to the first game. Dota 2 was made with the idea of captivating the Dota experience and presenting it to players with a modern touch. It goes so far as replicating the game mechanics that were present in Warcraft 3 that have become outdated and non-viable in modern strategy games.
It has gained worldwide success and is now one of the most popular MOBA games out there. Teams from all over the globe compete for dominance in the professional scene. Valve took a different approach to other companies when it came to raising funds for prize pools. While Riot Games supplies the entirety of funds for their events, Valve crowd-fund theirs. In Dota 2, Valve sell cosmetic items for heroes and a percentage of each sale is set aside for prizes. As a result, Dota 2 features the largest prize pools in the eSports industry, well above of what anyone else is capable of offering. The International 2018 came with a prize pool of ~$25,500,000, of which ~$11,000,000 went to the first place winner – OG. As a result, Dota 2 competitions have much more at stake than other competitive games, since good placement in the rankings could mean becoming an overnight millionaire for players.
Overwatch is one of the newest games to be featured on our list but also one of the most compelling. It was developed by Blizzard Entertainment and it brings something new to the eSports industry. It is a first-person game where players control heroes with unique abilities and fight for control of different objectives. Matches are played six-versus-six and there are three different roles that a player might take – Tank, Support, or DPS (Damage Dealer).
Since Overwatch only came out in 2016, it is not as popular as other already established competitive games that have had decades to solidify their player bases. Still, it has been steadily rising and Blizzard is actively working on developing the competitive scene. The Overwatch World Cup is the largest tournament of this eSport and it takes place at Blizzcon, one of the largest gaming events in the industry. Overwatch has attracted a large competitive scene and many gambling websites now offer bets on Overwatch matches.
Heroes of the Storm
Heroes of the Storm is yet another spin on the Dota formula, this time by Blizzard Entertainment. While it draws inspiration from Dota, HotS departs most from the original out of all commercial MOBA games on the market. It does not rely on a single map but utilizes multiple, all with different objective locations and lane layouts. The heroes in the game all come from various Blizzard intellectual properties, such as Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, The Lost Vikings and Overwatch.
While it still features the same isometric top-down view, the gameplay is much different to that of LoL or Dota 2. The game places much more emphasis on team play and it is nigh on impossible for a single player to turn the tide of a match. The team that first completes objectives will have a straight-up advantage for the rest of the match.
Heroes of the Storm does not enjoy the same popularity of its competitors. While League of Legends has been around for almost 10 years and Dota 2 bears the name of the original game, Heroes of the Storm does not have the same brand recognition. As a result, there is not as much emphasis on this eSport, though there is still a good competitive scene for it.
Rocket League is by far, the most original and outlandish game concept that we have on this list. Rocket League combines football with race cars and places them together on a playing field. Players control racecards while trying to hit a giant football and get it past the other team’s goal line. It is unique and entertaining and there is nothing else like it.
There is an active betting scene for Rocket League and while it does not enjoy the same popularity as the other games on this list, it is a breath of fresh air for those tired of the now-iconic games.
Is Esports betting legal?
People are often asking if betting on esports is legal in the USA? Since esports is a new development within the betting community it’s a tricky one. Online gambling is often subject to government regulations and red tape, these three laws impact esports betting:
- The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act
- The Interstate Wire Act
- The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act
These three are explained below.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Act
This act impacts the biggest on esports betting and online gambling in a whole in the USA. It was passed in 2006. Its primary action was to stop online betting by stopping businesses to accept bets and stops banks from processing payments for gambling reasons.
“…prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with the participation of another person in a bet or wager that involves the use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any federal or state law.”
If you were to ask ‘is Esports betting legal in the USA?’ You’d pretty much answer no. But many esports betting sites have found ways around this by using ‘third party financial institutions’
The act doesn’t cover any fantasy bets or any skill type games meaning it doesn’t technically cover Esports. This act is intended to cover larger gambling sites.
The Interstate Wire Act
This is one of oldest acts in the series affecting esports betting, it was originally passed in 1961 and made it illegal to use bets using ‘wire communication’ – It was amended in 2011 to include casino and poker gambling, however, ‘sports betting’ isn’t allowed under the law.
This act had the biggest effect on esports betting.
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act
This act was a smaller one of them, it was formed in 1992. To specifically state that sports betting is prohibited in the USA. Although, state laws vary.
“It shall be unlawful for a governmental entity to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law or compact, or a person to sponsor, operate, advertise, or promote, pursuant to the law or compact of a governmental entity, on a contest based directly or indirectly (through the use of geographic reference or otherwise) on one or more competitive games in which amateur or professional athletes participate.”
In conclusion, yes, you can legally bet on esports, bookies have found methods to get around the acts instated.
eSports Bet Types
As soon as you register with an online gambling website and look at the available bets, you will see that there is a wide variety of them. For your convenience, we have compiled a list of the most common eSports bets and provided explanations to what they are exactly about.
This bet is mostly self-explanatory. You place a bet on the team that you expect to win. There is very little to it and it is arguably, the simplest wager out there. It would look like this:
Team A: 1.5
Team B: 2.3
Race to X Kills
This bet will have you guessing which team will achieve X-number of kills first. For example, in League of Legends, you can bet that Team A will be the first to achieve that number of kills. This type of bet is more common in games where kills carry more weight on the outcome of the game, such as League of Legends or Dota 2. It would look like this:
Race to 10 kills:
Team A: 1.5
Team B: 2.3
Betting on objectives is another common bet type, particularly in MOBA games where there are more objectives than, for example, CS:GO. You can place a bet on which team will achieve the first objective in a match, such as taking down Baron or Rift Herald in League of Legends. It would look like this:
First Inhibitor Takedown:
Team A: 1.5
Team B: 2.3
Over and Under bets also make their way into the world of eSports. They are quite simple but can be very high risk as they are often difficult to predict in certain situations. Essentially, you are betting on whether or not something will be over or under a certain number. For example, in CS:GO, it is a common Over/Under bet to guess the total number of rounds to be played over the course of a map. More specifically, it would look like this:
Over 26.5 – 2.1
Under 26.5 – 1.3
If you bet on Over and the match continues for more than 26.5 rounds, then you win the bet, regardless of which team succeeds. The same with the Under option. The 0.5 is added to the number in order to avoid a situation where exactly 26 rounds are played.
First Blood Bet
The First Blood bets are commonly featured in MOBA games, such as League of Legends and Dota 2. They have you predict which team will be the one to score the first kill of the match. While they can be tricky in certain matchups, others can be quite easy to predict, especially when one team is much more aggressive than the other.
Play-In bets are one of the defining aspects of online sports betting. They allow players to place bets while the match is live, with respect to the current situation of the game. The odds change dynamically based on how well the two teams are performing. For example, if Team A is way ahead of Team B, then a Play-In bet on Team B will feature much more attractive odds at that moment. However, if Team B suddenly turns the game around, then the betting odds will shift in favor for bets on Team A. Of course, once placed, bets keep their original odds. There is also the option to cash out your bet before the match concludes. Though, the money you take home will be slightly lower than if you wait out the game.
First/Second/Third/…. Map Bet
This type of bet is only available for matchups where teams play multiple games, for example, a best-of-three or a best-of-five. It gives you the opportunity to bet on which team will take the first, second, third, etc. game prior to the matches being played.
Match Handicap bets are more prominent in CS:GO than any other competitive eSport. Essentially, this is how the final score of a match would look like if hypothetical points were added or subtracted from one team for the purposes of the bet. For example, a match handicap would look like this:
Team A (-3).5: 2.0 | Team B (+3.5): 1.9
Team A (-5.5): 5.0 | Team B (+5.5): 1.4
Team A (-7.5) 10.0 | Team B (+7.5): 1.1
These are three possible Handicap scenarios. In all of them, Team A is the favorite of the match, therefore points will be removed from their final score. If after removing the points, Team A still has more points than Team B, then you will win the bet. Similarly, Team B is predicted to lose so this bet would add hypothetical points to the final score. When the game is done and the points are added, a bet on Team B will be a winning one if they have more points than Team A.
Note, however, that the more points that you add, the more the payout odds drop and the more points that you remove, the higher the payout odds become. This is to factor in for the added or lowered risk of placing this type of bet.
The Correct Score bet is quite simple to grasp. All you have to do is predict the exact final score of a given match. This type of bet can be both high- and low-risk, depending on the matchup and the odds will reflect that.
Betting Odds Explained
Of course, before you go to your betting site of choice you should first understand what the odds reflect. Below, we have listed the three most popular odds formats with explanations for each type.
Fractional odds are the preferred type among UK and Irish bookies and are available at just about any sports betting website. They are written with a slash (/) and look like this:
Team A: 2/1
Team B: 3/1
What these numbers represent is the amount of money that you stand to make as a profit. Placing a $10 bet on Team A would yield you $20 in winnings for a net balance of $30.
Decimal odds are the so-called European odds and they are the primary type to be featured at continental Europe’s sports betting venues. They look like this:
Team A: 2.0
Team B: 3.0
Unlike factional odds, decimal odds represent the net sum of your bet rather than sheer profit. More specifically, a $10 bet on Team A would yield a profit of $10, for a net balance of $20.
American odds are completely different from the other two types and as you can probably guess, are primarily used by US bookmakers. The look like this:
Team A: -150
Team B: +200
Team A has a minus (-) symbol next to the number. This indicates that Team A is favored to win the matchup, while the number next to it signifies how much you would have to bet to win $100. On the flip side, Team B has a plus (+) symbol next to the number, which indicates that Team B is the underdog in this situation. The number next to it shows how much you would stand to win by betting $100.
Hallmarks of a Reputable Gambling Website
When choosing a proper sports betting website there are certain aspects that you should look for and certainly not overlook. These can range from a wide variety of things but we shall begin with the most basic of the bunch – licensing.
Proper licensing from a respected gambling regulatory institution is an absolute must. It is the only way that one can be sure that the sportsbook in question is fair and complies with rules and regulations set by the government. A website that does not feature any licensing whatsoever is not to be trusted with your banking and personal information, let alone your money. Companies licensed by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority, Curacao and Gibraltar are generally reputable and trustworthy.
Another thing that you should look out for are the available options to contact customer support and the attitude that the support staff have towards customers. Ideally, you want a gambling website that offers live chat on a 24/7 basis, with competent agents who can resolve your issues and answer your questions quickly.
Supported payment services are another factor to consider when on the lookout for a gambling website. Nowadays, most websites support a large number of payment methods so you should have no problem in finding one that accepts yours. What you should look into, however, is the processing speed in which the website handles transactions. Your deposits will likely be instantaneous but withdrawals can take a while at certain websites. You should, therefore, look over the sportsbook’s withdrawal policy and see if it meets your standards.