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Where to bet: The top current esports betting sites
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Browse the hottest esports betting games available, read our latest reviews, and check out all the important things you need to know before you start betting.
OK, so what is esports betting all about?
From humble, informal beginnings, the esports online gambling industry is now growing at least as quickly as esports itself. It’s now a bonafide industry that brings in millions of pounds each year, from huge numbers of players across the world.
That has resulted in numerous esports betting sites cropping up, allowing you to place bets on all manner of esports games, matches, events, even live-streamed games on Twitch.
Before considering getting involved in esports betting, it’s of course very important to find the most trusted betting sites. We’ve compiled a selection of the best esports bookmakers around, which can be found further up this page.
Also, in order to offer you some helpful esports betting tips, information on the intricate ‘ins and outs’ of the games themselves, we’ve answered on frequently asked questions below.
Whether you’re a keen gamer or just a dabbler, negotiating your way around esports betting is quite different from playing.
If you think there’s something we’ve missed, just let us know. Safe and happy betting.
How do I find the right esports bookmaker?
Before selecting which esports bookmakers to place your money with, it’s essential to check out a few key factors. Here are the main questions to ask yourself:
Is the site trustworthy?
Firstly, make sure the site you’re considering is subject to esports betting regulation, and from which jurisdiction license has been issued. You can usually find this information on the bookmaker’s website footer. For peace of mind, you can just look up the jurisdiction that issued the license online. Any problems experienced by players will almost definitely have been flagged up there. Look for other gambling companies under that jurisdiction too, you might recognise them.
Next, head to social media and review sites and see what people think about them. Look at their content overall, and make a note of what kind of customer support they provide.
If you’re happy to proceed, it’s wise to start with small, even minimum bets, and make the smallest deposit possible. Just to be safe. If you feel uneasy after the first experience, just move on, there are plenty of others around.
Where will I get the best betting prices?
Well, the esports betting odds offered will probably differ from bookmaker to bookmaker, and the markets are always fluctuating. It’s best to just look around and decide for yourself which one is providing the best odds at that time.
Is there more to esports betting than just price?
Definitely. There are always plenty of promotions and bonus deals on offer, especially if you’re a newbie. In particular, look out for VIP programs, free bets and deposit bonuses, as there can be extra value to be found there. With just a little research, you could find yourself making some very handy savings.
Are there different types of bets I can place?
Yes, there are. Betting on the outcome of a match or overall event – match betting – is the most popular type of esports bet placed. But esports bookmakers are increasingly offering a wider variety of betting options.
Some of the larger providers (ArcaneBet, Buff.bet & Rivalry) are currently trialling ‘In-Play’ and ‘Live’ betting, where you can bet on events happening within the match as it happens.
‘In Play’ markets are the most difficult to develop, so, for most bookmakers, they’re not the most dynamic and flexible markets just yet. This may well change in the future as the industry is growing so rapidly.
You may find, as you discover more about esports betting, that while the larger esports bookmakers (22Bet, Bet365 & Betway) are increasing the quantity of the events they cover quickly, many smaller operators – like Mr Green, Unibet & 888Sport – don’t quite cover as many. Not yet anyway.
Check out our latest reviews of current esports betting sites to delve deeper into who’s offering what right now. We do our best to constantly keep this updated, as the markets are so fluid right now.
So, is esports betting legal?
In many cases, absolutely. But it very much depends on where you live, and as a bettor, you’re always subject to the regulations of your jurisdiction. Esports betting in the UK is legal. You can always just Google to see whether sports betting and esports betting is legal where you are, and you can get confirmation by referring to your local, regional or national gambling commission’s guidelines.
Is esports betting well regulated?
Well, this is tricky to answer, as each operator is regulated by the jurisdiction they operate within, and may also be further regulated depending on the markets they serve. You can look up the UK Gambling Commission (and other online gaming licensing hubs) for more information.
There’s actually no official body in charge of esports betting regulation at the moment, although there are a few organisations that do work together in some way, such as ESL. This is likely to change, however, as esports continues to grow so quickly, and a single regulatory body is very possibly being worked on as we speak.
What’s the minimum esports betting age?
There’s no one answer to this, unfortunately. It depends on what the minimum gambling age is in your jurisdiction. In the UK, for example, the minimum age for any gambling – online or otherwise – is 18 years old, whereas, in many states of the USA, the minimum is 21. Even then some esports betting sites will set their own minimum, which could be older than the legal age allowed in that area.
Also, be sure to note where the betting site you’re using is based. In many cases, if a bookmaker is based outside your country but offering markets to you, and they’re not governed by the gambling commission of your country, you can’t legally bet with them.
Can I be sure games are totally fair?
Good question. Instances of some esports match-fixing accusations have already made the headlines, so the concern is a genuine one.
There are a few reasons to be optimistic though, such as:
- The presence of traditional sports bookmakers in the market now. These large, trusted companies take fraud very seriously, and they go to great lengths to ensure everything is as fair as it possibly can be
- Larger esports prizes. There’s just less reason for esports gamers to fix outcomes for money if the prize they’re competing for is already attractive. As the growth of esports continues, so do the prize pools
- The spectre of increased regulation. With the growth of its popularity and the subsequent rewards, esports attracts more and more attention, which results in more risk for the fixers should they be exposed, and more regulation from the powers that be.
- There are independent commissions in charge of verifying that esports play is fair. The Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC) for example, has been around since 2016. This commission investigates all cases of match-fixing, cheating and even doping.
The leading betting sites will approach the ESIC regarding any unclear cases across all esports competition levels, and the ESIC also has partnerships with lots of esports tournament hosts. They also work closely with Governmental gambling commissions in Nevada, the Isle of Man, and the UK.
These partnerships have already helped to weed out many instances of foul play, and the ESIC has not been shy in issuing high-profile bans. For example, when the CS:GO Coach Bug scandal was revealed in 2020, 40 major Counter-Strike coaches were banned from the whole sport. Betting sites and tournament hosts across the world took notice of the ESIC’s findings and copied their rulings. So you can be reassured that when serious breaches of trust happen, the major companies do listen, and action is taken.
Some standard sports bettors do have concerns regarding fairness. Thanks to the efforts of organisations like the ESIC, however, added to the large financial rewards for players and teams who play fairly, matches are now seen to be right there with major traditional sports leagues in terms of trustworthiness.
Is it easy to place a deposit to bet?
Yes. It works in the same way as traditional sports betting. You can add money to your account, and cash out, using all the regular payment methods. Mastercard and VISA are the most popular, mainly for ease of use and security. For esports betting, Paypal is also a solid option, as is AMEX, although there are sometimes restrictions on depositing via AMEX credit cards.
There are other deposit methods offered by some bookmakers, including:
- Bitcoin – For esports betting, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are much more niche. They’re mainly accepted by smaller and specialist online esports betting bookmakers
- Wire Transfers – You can do a wire transfer straight from your bank with some esports bookmaking sites, although this is a more involved process. It can be done much quicker than ACH and other bank transfers, however
- Cash Deposits – Some major bookmakers in the UK will allow you to deposit cash straight into your account via your local store if they have a high street presence. You use a special card to do so, which looks much like your usual bank card
- Virtual Wallets – Apple Pay, Paypal, Skrill and Neteller, among others, are the e-wallet providers accepted by some bookmakers if that’s your preferred way to deposit your funds
- Money Transfers – Handy if you’re sending money to an esports bookmaking site based abroad. Places like Western Union are widely used
- ACH (Automated Clearing House) Transfers – This is seen as a very secure method of bank-to-bank transfer for users in the US, but can take a few days to clear.
How big is the esports betting market?
The esports betting market size is growing rapidly, which makes getting exact figures tricky. It’s estimated that there are more than 500 million esports fans across the world, with up to $15 billion being wagered on esports in 2020 (according to OddsMatrix).
With esports being so easy to watch for free, the number of viewers watching events has grown exponentially over recent years. Viewership now comes close to traditional sports leagues in many instances. That means esports betting growth is getting bigger all the time too.
There were estimated to be around 443 million esports fans in 2019, rising to 495 million in 2020, with that figure predicted to reach 646 million by 2023. In 2020 alone, the esports market generated over $1 billion from sponsorships, merchandising and media rights (according to NewZoo).
Where is esports betting most popular?
Esports is increasingly hugely popular all over the world, but there are certain regions that have embraced it more. Some areas are held back by certain laws around betting, and others are held back by laws related to the accessibility of online gaming, and/or esports betting.
Southeast Asia currently has the biggest market for esports viewing – according to Oddmatrix 57% of all viewers come from there. That area also has the most competitive gamers. Regions such as the Middle East and Latin America represent the fastest-growing markets at the moment (according to NewZoo).
More viewers of esports generally mean more betting on esports, so Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East are the most popular areas for betting currently.
So, which esports provide the biggest betting markets?
Now there’s a question. There are so many out there to discover, as there are lots of different video game genres within esports to play and bet on.
The most popular esports that people place bets on are sports simulations like FIFA, NBA2K and Madden Football. But many other sports sims are increasingly popular too. Bets on sports simulations went up by over 3500% in 2020 – probably helped in a big way by the COVID pandemic shutdowns. As these simulations closely resemble the sports involved, people that enjoy live sports betting tend to lean towards these esports betting markets. They are familiar, they know the stars and what they’re likely to do. It’s just generally easier to understand, and therefore possibly simpler to predict the correct outcome of the match or event.
Away from sports simulations, there are three esports titles that dominate the industry, hogging almost 90% of non-sports sim esports betting: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, and Dota2. You can find out more about these titles, and how to place bets on them, in our game guide.
What different ways can I bet on esports?
As it’s developing into such a diverse industry, there are more ways than you’d think to get involved in esports betting games. It’s probably easiest to put them into four main categories of esports betting options:
1. Esports betting the traditional way
This works in the same way as betting on regular sports events with bookmakers. Such has been the rise in popularity of esports in recent years, the big online bookmakers now offer almost as many markets for esports as they do for sports such as football, tennis and golf. It’s worth scoping out a few of the big names though, as the offerings do vary a lot.
Two online bookmakers who offer arguably the very best selection of esports betting markets are Bet365 and Pinnacle. It’s definitely worth checking them out. The big plus of betting this way is the security – you can bet in confidence because you know you’re dealing with a trusted company. You may also be familiar with the concept of sport betting in this way, so you’ll probably be more comfortable with the whole process, as esports betting with bookmakers works in the same way.
The minus is that the esports betting industry is relatively new to the traditional bookmakers, so the quality and quantity of the markets offered can be limited. This will surely improve with time, as esports betting becomes an even bigger industry.
2. Esports betting on live streamers
Yes, believe it or not, you don’t only have to bet on big, organised esports events. You can place bets on esports players streaming live from anywhere, on channels like Twitch and YouTube.
Some esports betting providers will feature live streams embedded into their sites. GG.Bet is one, so check them out to get an idea of what’s on offer.
Betting on streamers is becoming more and more popular, and it works simply by watching the stream live on the betting site, taking in the ever-changing odds being offered as the stream continues, then placing your bet(s).
The plus with live esports betting on streamers is the variety – you don’t have to bet on the larger, organised esports events, so you’ll pretty much always be able to find a good quality streamer to place a bet on, at any time of day.
You also get access to a bigger selection of esports when you bet on streaming. People from all over will be playing the latest games and streaming them, so there are few limitations on what you can find to bet on.
There’s a place for the large, organised esports tournaments of course, and their popularity continues to soar. They have the kudos, the stars, the publicity and box office appeal. But betting on streaming can be a nice accompaniment to them, as you can usually find an esports live stream whenever you want to, so you don’t have to wait around for a high-profile event or match.
3. Fantasy esports betting
Whereas traditional sports betting is focused on what will happen in a specific event, this style of esports betting is all about players developing their own fantasy team for big upcoming events – this could be an England team for the football World Cup or the Euros, or maybe an NFL team for the Super Bowl. Then, when that event happens, the fantasy team that performed the best is declared the winner. And you can bet on which one that might be.
Fantasy esports betting is becoming very popular, especially in the USA where it gets around some laws and regulations that restrict access to some online esports betting markets. Because this is betting on fantasy, and not reality, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act gives this market a partial exemption.
The thing to remember with fantasy esports betting is that you’re betting against other players, not the betting operator. The big plus for this type of betting is that, in the case of the USA, it’s legal in most places, so you have fewer restrictions. A good place to check out is Draftkings – they offer comprehensive markets on League of Legends fantasy, which covers many tournaments, big and small.
Any minuses? Well, the variety of betting options isn’t quite the same as in traditional esports betting, and the experience is just generally more limited.
4. Esports marketplace betting
There is thought to be tens of thousands of players involved in the marketplace (item and skin) betting, and lots of money does change hands, but it’s tricky to know exactly how big this market is. There is much evidence to suggest, however, that marketplace betting is bigger than traditional sports bookmaker betting on esports and fantasy esports combined.
In case you’re unfamiliar, ‘item betting’ is where you trade items within a particular online game, with another player. These can have value of course, in many games. ‘Skin betting’ is particular to certain skins for characters in games that may be perceived as valuable – perhaps they’re rare or just something missing from a player’s arsenal.
How do people make money and gamble with these items (including skins)? They have no monetary value in and of themselves, you can think of them much like casino chips. They do hold value within the game, so there’s an opportunity to gamble with items in order for players to transfer income on esports games. Some players choose not to invest any actual income. They just play the game and let their virtual winnings carry over, thus producing more items, or indeed cash.
The plus here is that it’s pretty easy to get involved in, and trading in-game items can be a useful way to add another fun element to gameplay. The minus is the fact it’s tough to know if everything is on the same level or fair. There’s pretty much no regulation for this market, so it’s tough to have great confidence in it. This might be because, in some schools of thought, it’s not even really gambling.
But as there is value in gaining items in many esports games, there can be a reward for players who choose to do the wrong thing.
In recent years, there have been some restrictions placed by some providers on skin betting. For example, Valve, the main developer and publisher of games like Half-Life, cut off gambling activity coming through the Steam platform, which is the clever bit that allows skins to move between players and gambling sites.
A huge move at the time, as skin betting is really the dominant product in the global esports gambling market. If you’re still interested but slightly weary, there are some really good alternatives to skin gambling sites out there, and they offer a similar experience.
5. Esports betting socially
This really just refers to a casual bet on a match or event, made between friends. It could also include a bet between friends on a challenge they themselves are involved in. Of course, there are bound to be plenty of people getting involved in such betting, but monitoring it and getting figures on how many do it, just isn’t possible.
The big plus? It just adds a little innocent spice to an event or challenge – it makes it more interesting. The minus is that it’s a bit limited. But if you want to make any money from it, you’re going to need to win most of the time.
That’s not only tricky but hardly a long-term plan as friends will stop playing and it will be hard to keep finding new people to beat (or lose to, if you’re backing them!)