Bet on esports – What is it all about?

Betting on esports has gone to a professional level just like the games themselves. Even a decade ago, esports were still emerging and most of the bets were not hosted by best esports betting sites. Instead, those were wagers conducted by friends or small gaming communities. It took less than 10 years for the esports to become the top-tier choice for online bettors. Nowadays, thousands of websites receive bets worth millions of dollars from every part of the world and this number is constantly increasing.

The great popularity of esports looks well-deserved, mainly because it offers exciting opportunities for betting. However, for the vast majority of people, betting on esports seems to be something untested and a quite risky activity to perform. Despite any previous experience in playing the games or watching over the pro scene, esports betting might remain the unknown world to be explored. Similarly, individuals not really connected with the gaming industry may be curious about the particular game mechanics and the esports betting process.

Considering everything mentioned above, we would like to view esports betting from all angles to make the industry rules crystal-clear for you.

The Options for eSports Betting

Betting on the famous games can be done in various forms. Each of them allows profiting from the results of esports events, tournaments or other game-related things in a unique way. To eliminate any confusion, let’s see 4 major options for esports betting: Sportsbook betting, Item Betting, Social Betting and also Fantasy Sports betting. Now we encourage you to read about all of them in detail.

Sportsbook betting in eSports

Sportsbook betting is pretty self-explanatory. The individual makes the betting decision in the specific esports match, completely in the same way as if he was betting on a soccer or basketball game. A lot of online bookmaker websites now offer esports betting alongside with the traditional bets. Even famous brands in the betting industry such as Bet365 and Pinnacle have finally reached the esports. However, we should still emphasize that the quality of esports betting services may differ among the sites.

So, what is the key reason for choosing the sportsbook betting for esports? First of all we tend to think about the high degree of professionalism and reliability when it comes to big sportsbook betting sites. Of course, there can be frauds which hunt for the hard-earned money of clients, although their number is still limited. Since big betting sites struggle to preserve their reputation, placing online bets is safe.

Perhaps the only serious constraint of those online betting sites is the lack of focus on esports. In other words, online bookmakers still do not know a lot about the gaming industry and they offer esports betting primarily to diversify their services. As the result, the bettor may not find the abundance of esports betting opportunities there. Nonetheless, we believe that this problem is only the matter of time.

Fantasy Betting in eSports

Fantasy betting is the second type of betting in esports to mention here. Before we explain it, we should say that fantasy betting enjoys a high level of popularity in the US. The reason is the strict regulatory environment for esports betting bookmakers and other online betting sites. Their activity within the United States is substantially restrained by the wide array of laws. Fortunately, fantasy betting did not become the subject of the federal law “UIGEA” (i.e. Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act). Thus, US clients can access esports via fantasy betting sites and benefit from them.

Let’s return from the legal side of things to the fantasy esports betting itself. So what is the logic behind it? Unlike conventional esports betting where the individual bets against the particular team in the match, in the fantasy betting one creates his own player roster from the real esports teams. The fantasy team which performs best during the selected esports event or tournament is the winner. Simply put, the actual performance of real players in the event is taken into account and it serves to gauge how successful is the chosen fantasy lineup. It is important to consider that in the fantasy betting the individual does not bet that one team in the match outperforms another. In fact, website users in the fantasy betting are competing with each other.

To sum up, fantasy betting is accessible worldwide even in the highly regulated countries. Although this type of esports betting does not include the wager on the esports match or game results, the profit potential is not limited. Initially, fantasy esports was introduced as the completely new product in the betting industry. We might say that fantasy esports betting owes its rapid growth to the daily fantasy sports, which give the players the green light to participate in the fantasy contests taking place each week. Such short-term events present more flexibility for the player in comparison to the fantasy competitions that last several months or the whole year.

To show the scale of the fantasy betting more vividly, let’s take the example of AlphaDraft and Vulcun. These two major fantasy e-sports betting sites experience around 250,000 of users monthly playing for huge profits, reaching millions of USD. It is hard to estimate the whole turnover for the fantasy betting combined for all sites.

Item Betting

The item betting is a distinctive way of profiting from esports. Generally, it involves two parties that bet for in-game items by using the special marketplaces. Since the data about such transfers is encrypted, it is quite difficult to evaluate the volume of the transactions in the item betting. Still, there is no doubt that the demand for the in-game content is quite high. This is why there are hundreds of thousands of players that take part in the item betting, even committing big sums of money.

We should mention that the item betting is not involving direct cash payments. Conversely, for prizes and wagers people use transferrable in-game content such as skins, abilities, special effects, loading screens and so on. Cash in the item betting is used indirectly, mostly when the individual wishes to exchange the valuable items for real money at the third-party website. We are not trying to dramatize, but are obliged to inform that such bets may not comply with different local jurisdictions, so it is better to check all the rules beforehand.

Overall, the item betting on the marketplace can be advantageous due to its immense simplicity. One has the possibility to earn money just by getting rid of the items that have not proved to be practically useful or no longer present the interest for the player. However, it is important to remember that item betting platforms are mostly non-regulated esports bet sites. On top of that, this way of betting is not the best way of mastering the certain game for future betting, but rather discover one of its relevant aspects.

Although betting on the in-game property by means of the marketplace can be risky, it is extremely popular and will attract more players in the long-term perspective. Even sportsbook betting and fantasy esports are only trying to catch up the fame of the item betting. Furthermore, it is hard to associate the item betting with the traditional forms of gambling that are considered inappropriate by some jurisdictions. On the contrary, there are literally no restrictions or prerequisites for the participants in the marketplace deals, and it is common to think that this type of esports betting ensures sensible opportunities for making profits.

Social eSports Betting

The last but not the least important is the social esports betting. This type of betting is mostly informal, meaning that the main participants are friends or acquaintances that place bets on the concrete esports tournament or just on the simple match. The terms of the bet can be personalized as the parties deem necessary. Another form of social esports betting is so-called challenge betting. The idea is to compete by putting the sums of money, so that the winner will get it all.

Social betting cannot be regarded as the official form of esports betting and it is not the subject of any laws regulation. In other words, it is just amusing to bet on esports with friends in a pleasant and non-stressful environment. Thus, this is the option to improve the social experience. As you could have noticed, social betting is conducted in the very tiny market which mainly consists of the people that you know. Likewise, not everyone might be interested in esports betting and would rather steer clear of it, because it is “gambling” or for some other reasons. Just make sure that you do not win too often, not to lose your friends thereafter.

Undoubtedly, it is hardly possible to assess the size of social esports betting market, because it is of the closed type. Hence, one will not succeed in finding any information that will help to see the bigger picture. We can only presume that betting as one of the popular social activities involves a big number of participants.

How to choose top eSports betting places?

It will not be an exaggeration to say that there are no sniper-accurate criteria that will show only the best betting websites. This is because all bettors have their particular needs and expectations. However, if are you seeking for our advice, we will provide some handy tips.

To sort the wheat out of the chaff effectively, you should consider 4 factors that will mainly show who you are dealing with. Let’s take a look at them.

eSports Bet Sites Credibility

The reliability of the site is the cornerstone of success in the esports betting. In order to discover if the betting site can be trusted, you have to go through 3 steps.

First of all, check the regulatory compliance of the site and the documents that allow conducting online betting services. Not all regulatory institutions are trustworthy, so you should view which body provided the license to the website. Such information, if present, is usually visible when you scroll down the web page. In case you do not know much about the regulation in the betting business, we encourage you to search for this legal information. It is not really a daunting task to pinpoint the scam regulatory organization. Sometimes it is enough to examine the online reputation of the particular betting website with an aim to learn about any violations of the client’s rights under the specific jurisdiction. If there were, did the regulatory body deal with the problem at hand or not? In which country this institution is located, with strong law enforcement or not? These questions are just the examples of what you should consider when testing the reliability of the websites esport betting.

Next step is to listen to what other bettors or players are saying. There are many websites that post reviews which help users learn more about the betting site they are interested in. You should check if the betting site is transparent in terms of the services it provides, whether there is integration with social media etc. Likewise, you may also extend your research to the social networks like Facebook, Twitter or Quora to get the insightful feedback. However, this does not mean that you should trust every word. Some people lose money because they are, well, unlucky. We recommend you to consider only those comments that contain facts, not just emotions. By weighing all the gathered info, you will be able then to identify the good betting website and avoid the bad one.

The best teacher is experience and this applies to esports betting too. If the site fulfilled two previous criteria, would it bring desirable profits in the real betting? The only way to answer this question is to register at the website and make a small deposit. Then you should place the wager and see how it goes. At this stage, you will be able to assess the quality of the betting services. In case there are questions not answered in FAQ or there is a trouble with the bet, you will have to contact customer support. Good websites offer several communication methods, among which the most preferable is the live chat that connects the user with the client support representative in just a minute. It is good when the support is helpful, but if not – this is the sign for you. Essentially, any adverse experience at the esports bookmaker website tells that you should look for other options. The choice of top rated esports betting websites is huge, so it is always possible to find something decent.

Consider the prices for eSports

When it comes to odds in betting, they determine the potential returns for the particular bet. The odd is most often displayed in the Decimal format, as it is much easier to calculate than American. Technically, the lower is the Decimal number, then higher is the probability for the selected team to win. For example, in the Dota 2 match LGD vs EG it is believed that EG will win. So let’s imagine that EG has odd 1.500 and LGD has 2.100 odd. The outcome determines how much you will earn. If you place the bet worth 100$ for EG, then your payout will be $150. Indeed, numbers would be different for LGD beating EG in the match.

Now when the reward system is more or less clear, let’s see why this should be considered when choosing the betting website. Esports bookmakers do not offer the same odds, so it is necessary to study the conditions at each site and after this compare them to see where you can make more. Please note that markets are dynamic and odds are adjusted by bookmakers as they see fit.

Promotions offered by eSports betting websites

It is important to check out the odds in order to get a highly promising start at esports betting. However, this is only the half of a deal. Next step is to determine if the site offers some promotions to new clients or already registered users. The betting bonus is a great addition to favorable odds, since this amplifies your potential returns. However, never accept the bonus from the scam betting websites, because you will likely to lose a lot of money.

There are different promotion campaigns at esports betting sites, but their number can be narrowed to three most common bonus types: Free Bet, Deposit Bonus and CashBack program. Let’s describe each of them briefly.

As the name suggests, Free Bet indicates the specific amount of funds granted by esports bookmaker websites to the client. Usually, this money cannot be withdrawn, because the betting site expects you to place the bet using free cash. Free bets are most frequently offered to attract new clients. Each bonus has its unique terms and conditions, e.g. requirements for obtaining the bonus and the expiration date.

Unlike free cash, deposit bonus is granted only after meeting the deposit requirement specified by top esports betting sites. Whenever you accept such promotion, you should check the bonus rate that shows how much funds will be credited to your account upon making the necessary deposit. To withdraw the bonus, you have to fulfill the turnover requirement for bets during the particular time period.

Another common bonus type is the CashBack bonus. This promotion comes up as the part of VIP services but can be offered to new regular users too. The main principle behind cashback bonus is that the betting site will rebate your first bet or even multiple bets in a row that ended in a loss for you. Simply put, if you win the bet then nothing will happen – you just collect your well-deserved profit. The cashback bonus is activated only when the player loses the bet. The amount of funds returned to the player is predefined by the bonus conditions.

Available types of eSports bets

The last factor to take into account when picking the betting website is what kinds of bets the ordinary player can place in the esports industry. The truth is that types of bets and available odds depend on the betting operator.

There are some common types of bets. We have mentioned one of them several times here – the match betting. All great esports bookmakers employ match betting, because it is sort of the mainstream now. In the match betting, the player predicts the end result of the single esports match. The match betting terms vary from site to site. A new type of bets to keep eye on is live or so-called “in-play” betting. Live betting is a sort of experiment currently utilized by the big brands like Pinnacle and Unikrn. In-play bets are offered by the site during the ongoing match.

Despite the possible benefits of live bets, we strongly believe that developing such markets is not an easy assignment. Therefore, in-play betting requires advanced technologies that will ensure the best quality of betting options. Currently live betting is under development and only a few sites offer it.

Another important thing that cannot be overlooked is the quantity. In other words, you should understand that not every esports betting website offers odds on all of the events. To give an example, bet365 as one of the best esports bookmakers displays popular events instantly with the specified odds. On the contrary, at William Hill website it may take a while until the odds for the particular event appear, though they are not 100% guaranteed.

eSports: Is it legal to wager on them?

The question whether esports are legal to bet on is quite complicated, since the answer may vary depending on the user. The only hint left is to check the local laws and regulations related to the online betting or gambling in general. Essentially, if the sports betting is prohibited in the country of your residence, then this would apply for esports bets too. In the case of the US where the esports betting is banned partially – the only option is the fantasy betting. Logically, if there is no legislative norm that says something about online betting, sports betting or whatsoever, then be free to test your luck and skills in the esports.

If the esports betting is permitted, then there should probably be a regulator for it. In reality, there is no chief regulatory institution to supervise esports industry, because of its decentralized and global nature. Different leagues and organizations like ESL try to cooperate with each other to regulate esports somehow. However, they do not oversee egaming betting sites. Instead, they ensure that matches and events are held transparently, with no conflict of interest. Probably after esports will grow significantly, the central regulatory structure may emerge. Right now it is too early to speak about it.

So how are the esports betting sites regulated? Well, it again depends on the site. Betting websites are registered in different parts of the world, so they comply with the rules of local regulatory organizations. The most popular places of regulating online gambling entities are the UK and the Isle of Man. Additionally, these licensing hubs also specify the minimum age for participating in the esports betting.

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How to check if the match is fair?

When it comes to betting on esports, players quite often ask if the matches are held in a fair way. This is an open question, since some esports events were accused of intentional match fixing. The problem was that even the high-rank events were not an exception. Indeed, if there is no confirmation that game is played honestly, then there is no reason for bettors to risk their money. Small stakes easily turn into losses, not to tell about placing big bets. So how to deal with this problem?

We are here to introduce some pleasing facts which show that esports are becoming more transparent and unbiased.

Firstly, the prize pool of the event plays a significant role. If the tournament has a big money prize for winning the competition, then there is much less motivation to allow any manipulations with the match results. Esports prize pools are increasing by each consecutive year. One of the best examples is the International Dota 2 Championship, where prize pool has reached $20 millions in the year 2016, although the initial prize was 1$ mln back in 2011.

Secondly, gambling giants like bet365 have entered the esports industry. The advent of reputable online bookmakers has thrown more light on the problem of match fixing. As the result, these best e-sports betting websites allocate many resources for effective troubleshooting. This allows dealing with match fixing at hand.

Finally, serious events and competitions with enormous prize tools attract a lot of public attention, including authorities and regulatory bodies. This diminishes the risk of holding unfair matches, simply because it becomes almost impossible to hide any fraud scheme.

What are the payment methods in eSports?

No doubt that esports bets resemble conventional online betting in terms of payment options. This means that you can use a wide range of transfer methods both for funding the account and withdrawing the profits.

Just like in many other transactions, in esports betting users prefer credit/debit cards, VISA and MasterCard to be more specific. Players like these cards because they are user-friendly and are equipped with the latest security technologies. Generally, esports betting websites accept other cards with the only exemption – AMEX (American Express). Unfortunately, American Express card owners are not allowed to deposit at the majority of betting sites. Some websites impose restrictions on the maximum deposit amount and also limit the number of deposits made within the particular time period.

However, alongside the payment cards, you may use other methods of transferring funds, which incorporate e-wallets (Skrill, Neteller), wire transfers, ACH transfers, money transfer services (Western Union) and others.

We should mention that the conditions for depositing and withdrawing funds are different among top esports betting places. Most of them, however, charge fees for withdrawals. This mostly applies to credit/debit cards and wire transfers, although the commissions for using other methods are usually specified as well. In some cases, it may take a while for the money to be credited to your account after making the deposit.

Using Bitcoin at e-Sports betting sites

Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency and it is also widely used in the gambling. Bitcoin works as the peer-to-peer system, which means that no middlemen are involved in the transaction. BTC grants several benefits to the player, let’s remind them.

Bitcoin provides full anonymity of the client and protects all the personal information. To complete the transaction using bitcoins, there is no need to supply any extra info. The only thing needed is the number of the bitcoin wallet and nothing more. Transactions are not bounded by the region, meaning that you can fund the account from any corner of the world. In addition, bitcoin transactions entail very low fees which present the absolute advantage over the traditional means of payments. When using BTC, you do not pay any commission to the third party like the bank.

People pretty often ask whether it is possible to pay with BTC in online esports betting. Overall, this is possible and sometimes even encouraged. However, large online esports betting websites usually do not support BTC for some reasons. Therefore, bitcoins are accepted by smaller online bookmakers or bitcoin esports betting sites. The choice of bets and odds may be limited due to the size such betting website. This can be seen as the drawback if comparing to firms like bet365.

How big is the eSports betting market?

It is rather difficult to measure the size of the esports betting market, as there are no official records or statistical data to report the volume of transactions in esports betting. The absence of detailed stats is explained mainly by the sudden growth of esports betting industry. Another reason is that the bets are conducted in a half-private way. However, according to the recent report by the market research firm called Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, the total betting on esports will be over $20 bln by the year 2020. Nonetheless, this number remains a rough estimation.

We may approach the question of the esports betting market size from different perspectives.

  • What is the total number of players betting on esports?
  • How much money is bet on esports around the world?
  • Which regions are involved in esports betting most?

NewZoo has published the Global Games Market Report in June 2016. According to the information provided in this report, there are around 150 million people involved in esports. Additionally, there are tens of millions of viewers that regularly track main esports events. Based on this data, we might assume that there are at least 1 million of players that currently bet on esports online. No doubt that this number is increasing day by day. Earlier we have mentioned that the daily fantasy esports provided by AlphaDraft and Vulcun attract around quarter million users, and it is only in the US esports betting market. Therefore, we can be confident that the interest in esports betting is about to grow substantially further.

Another task is to estimate how much money is bet worldwide by the players. To add more precision to this brief research, let’s take Pinnacle as the vivid example of the leading online bookmaker of esports betting. The first million of esports bets in Pinnacle was registered at the end of 2014. Last year, in 2015, Pinnacle has reported about taking two millions of esports bets. It took just 1 year to achieve this amazing result. We strongly believe that this year Pinnacle will report the new high record of esports bets taken.

Considering all this, it is possible to presume that the amount of money put on bets at e-gaming betting sites can exceed $50 mln this year, not including the $30 mln of bets in the fantasy esports betting sites. Although Pinnacle seems to be the esports betting market leader, other major betting sites like Unikrn have the potential to contest its position in the future.

The last thing to mention here is the regional distribution of esports bettors. Still we cannot accurately pinpoint the actual number of people involved in betting, simply because there is no such information publicly available. Thus, we have to base our presumption on the report published in 2015 by Superdata that signifies around 135 mln of esports events viewers. If we adjust the statistical data to esports betting, we can receive the following distribution of bettors: Asia – 60%, the US – 23%, Europe – 13% and Other – 4%.