Online sports betting has become hugely popular over the last couple of years, with the development of mobile phone technology hugely increasing the accessibility of betting. While you might be well aware of just how popular betting on mainstream sports has become, you might be less aware that eSports are also very popular with many bettors in today's age.
Esports are essentially competitive video games, where teams play against each other in tournaments based around popular games like Defense of the Ancients 2 (Dota2) and League of Legends (LoL).
There are even competitive leagues and tournaments now for eSports versions of sports games like soccer and basketball. As you might expect, betting on eSports has become a big business, and is getting ever bigger.
If you want to find out about wagering on eSports, you're in the right place! Read on to give yourself a great place to start.
So what exactly are eSports? As we allude to above, eSports are a form of video game competition. Many millions of people play competitively against each other online, of course, but not as part of professional teams in tournaments where actual prize money is at stake. This is where those taking part in eSports separate themselves from casual and recreational gamers.
Professional players and teams participate in events that now attract huge audiences, both in venues and watching streams online. Tens of millions of viewers will watch streams of the world's biggest eSports tournaments.
Next, we'll tell you about whether or not you're allowed to bet on eSports in the USA, and also give you a rundown of which eSports games are popular with bettors across the world.
As with most things relating to betting in the United States, the laws around betting on eSports vary from state to state and can be quite complex.
There has been a long tradition of intensive regulation of gambling in the United States, although certain states such as Nevada have traditionally taken a more open approach to gambling.
There are currently nearly two-dozen states that allow online sports betting, though not all of them allow wagering on eSports. Although eSports betting may be legal in your state, please keep in mind that betting markets are currently few and far between.
Nevada and New Jersey allow eSports betting, but there has yet to be consistent markets to place wagers.
West Virginia permits eSports betting, but only if the players competing are over the age of 18. Colorado also allows eSports betting. The state of Nevada allowed eSports betting on a temporary basis in 2020.
Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island haven't stated if eSports is allowed or not, currently leaving it open to interpretation. Indiana, however, did decide to ban eSports betting.
Tennessee became the first state with wagering exclusive to the online platform, and placing bets on eSports is legal there as well.
Sports betting legislation and regulation is up to each individual state, so how it varies from place to place remains somewhat confusing. While changes are likely on the way, the process is moving at a different pace in each state. We would always advise consulting local state laws before you start doing any eSports betting.
Just as with conventional sports, fantasy versions of esports are also popular. Fantasy eSports betting opens up more possibilities for those looking to take part.
Players in a fantasy league use the salary cap model to build a roster of players from the ranks of professional eSports teams. Points are then awarded to each roster based on the real-life performances of those players. The rosters with the most points then win the fantasy league.
You can bet on the outcomes of fantasy leagues in much the same way as you would on traditional sports, with many markets available on the various fantasy competitions.
Many online sportsbooks now offer the chance to bet on fantasy eSports. That includes FanDuel and DraftKings, two brands that also offer plenty of opportunities for betting on more conventional types of fantasy sports as well.
The number of eSports games on which you can bet is growing all the time. eSports games for betting fall into five basic categories: multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games, first-person shooter games, fighting games, real-time strategy games, and sports and racing games. There are also a few games that don't really fit into any of these categories.
Popular MOBA games for eSports betting are Dota 2, League of Legends, Smite and Heroes of the Storm.
The most popular first person shooter in the eSports world is CS:GO (Counter Strike: Global Offensive), but other popular games include Halo, Overwatch, Battlefield, and Call of Duty.
Streetfighter and Super Smash Bros. offer eSports bettors the chance to wager on fighting games.
Starcraft 2 is one of the most high profile real-time strategy games on which you can place eSports bets, with other options being Warcraft 111, Age of Empires, and World in Conflict.
This is one area of eSports that is really growing quickly, with leagues now available for FIFA, NBA 2K, Madden NFL, Need For Speed, and Rocket League.
Some other games that are popular for eSports betting include World of Tanks and Hearthstone.
If you are already familiar with mainstream sports betting then the types of bet that you can place on eSports will already seem familiar to you. Here are a few of the more common types of wager that you can place when doing some eSports betting.
This is a very straightforward type of bet where you attempt to predict the overall winner of a tournament. Although it is a simple bet, it requires strong knowledge of players, teams and factors that may affect performance.
Another deceptively simple bet type, a match winner is where you try and predict which team or player will win an individual match.
In some eSports games, such as CS:GO, it is possible to bet on which team will win the match's first map.
This is a similar type of bet to the first map winner, where you are attempting to predict the outcome of a specific event in the match.
This is a type of bet where you combine several selections onto one bet slip. If one selection loses, the whole wager loses. The odds from each selection are multiplied together, though, resulting in enhanced odds.
The winnings from one bet are used as the stake for the next, so winnings are potentially huge. This is a good way to bet on favorites in the early rounds of tournaments.
Live or in-play betting is where you bet on the outcome of events in a match while it is taking place. You need to have good game knowledge and a live stream of the match to watch, as well as the ability to make decisions quickly based on your knowledge of all the factors that come into play.
If you are just starting out on your eSports betting adventure then you may have come across the term "skin betting" and wondered what it is. This differs from more conventional forms of eSports betting and it's important to understand the difference.
Skins are virtual items that can be used to modify a character's appearance in games like CS:GO. Skins play a purely cosmetic role and can be traded between players. This means that they can act as a kind of quasi-currency, similar to a poker chip, so you can often use skins as a currency for betting on eSports. There has been some controversy in recent years around this type of eSports betting, however, so we would urge caution if you are planning on doing it.
So now you have a decent grounding in what eSports betting is all about, how can you give yourself the best possible chance of winning some eSports bets?
If you are already a regular sports bettor you will probably already have a decent idea about how to shape a successful strategy. The principles behind successful eSports betting are almost identical to those behind successful sports betting.
Here are some tips for you to follow as you build your eSports betting strategy.
Betting on eSports is as legal as betting on any other type of sporting activity. Obviously, in the USA betting laws remain somewhat complex and vary from state to state, so it is always best to check how local laws apply to you before you open an account at an online bookmaker and start betting on eSports.
There are several games that have a high profile in the world of eSports. Possibly the most popular game is CS:GO, which boasts hundreds of teams and quality tournaments. Dota 2 is another extremely popular game that boasts a massive following across the world. There are many opportunities to bet on these two games at many online sportsbooks.
The International, a Dota 2 tournament that is hosted by Valve, offers the biggest prize pool in eSports. The International 9, which took place in 2019, offered a total prize pool worth $34.3 million to successful players. The event is the most successful example of crowd-funded prize pools in eSports tournament history.