Online eSports betting has become a big business in a short amount of time. Over just the last few years, numerous mainstream betting sites have started booking wagers on the outcomes of major competitions for games such as League of Legends, Hearthstone, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and more. What’s more, some betting sites are now booking more action on eSports events than for many traditional sports events.
The actual process of betting on eSports is basically the same as betting on any other traditional sport. You look for an upcoming matchup, pick the player/team you think is most likely to win and then bet cash on the outcome. If you get it right, you get paid.
Which Betting Sites Cover eSports?
An increasing number of online bookmakers have joined the eSports party, so you actually have a nice variety of options already. Big name betting sites are booking eSports wagers as you read these very words. Simply finding a place to bet on eSports online is simple.
However, some eSports betting sites are more experienced than others and generally you should stick with the more experienced names. Those bookmakers who started following eSports earlier are now more knowledgeable and more comfortable with modern eSports competitions. They are willing to offer better odds with the confidence that they won’t go broke by completely misjudging the odds of any particular eSports event.
Established betting sites offer another important advantage: security. eSports may be virtual competitions, but the money you bet on those competitions is very real. Ensuring the safety of your funds is of paramount importance, and the best way you can do so is to stick with established bookmakers that have withstood the test of time.
How to Bet on eSports Online
As mentioned above, the basic process of betting on an eSports competition is similar to betting on any sporting event that takes place in the real world. If you already understand the basics of sports betting, you have everything you need to begin betting. If not, that’s OK too. Just read on for the full rundown.
The first step in getting started is to find a betting site that offers eSports markets. You can see some of our recommendations above. The next step is to sign up for an account with that betting site and then make a deposit. Once you have an account, you can log in, visit the cashier and choose a method to fund your account with real money. In many cases, you can choose between deposit options such as credit/debit cards, bank transfers and e-wallets such as Neteller or Skrill.
Now that you have an account funded with real money, it’s time to choose a market and place a bet. Visit the “eSports” link on your betting site’s main page and you’ll be taken to a page that shows a list of upcoming matches for various games.
From there, you can choose the event and game you wish to bet on and then confirm your selection. Choose an amount of money to wager and then book your bet. If you get it correct, your winnings will be paid directly to your betting account. You may then withdraw your winnings to your bank account or use them to place additional bets on other eSports events.
Types of eSports Bets
eSports betting offers the same types of bets that you would expect to see offered for any other physical sport. The most common of these are straight up match bets, point spreads and outright wagers. Let’s take a look at examples of each to see how they all work.
Straight Up Match Bets
In this example, let’s look at an upcoming CS:GO match scheduled to take place at DreamHack Winter. This is a simple match bet in which your only goal is to predict which team will win the match. These are the actual odds that were being offered at the time of the bet:
- BIG: 5/4
- EnVyUs: 3/5
Those fractions you see next to each team represent the odds at which your bet will be booked. This is called a “fixed odds” bet because you are shown exactly how much you will be risking and how much you will win before you confirm the bet.
The 5/4 next to Team BIG is an example of the fractional odds format. To see how much you stand to win, you simply multiply your intended bet size by the fraction and the resulting number shows how much you will profit if your bet is a winner. Alternatively, you can simply click on the fraction to bring up the betting slip. Type in the amount you’re considering betting and the slip will show your total return (which includes the return of your original wager).
In this example, I ended up choosing BIG and typed in a bet of £100. The betting slip subsequently showed that my total return would have been £225 for a net profit of £125.
Point Spread Bets
The goal in point spread bets is the same as it is in straight up match bets: to predict the winning team. The difference is that one team or the other is given a handicap to offset differences in skill. The handicap simply sets a condition that one team or the other must win by X points (or X number of games in a match) for any wagers on that team to be counted as winners.
For example, let’s go back and look at a Dota 2 match between NewBee and Infamous. This time, we’ll be choosing the match handicap market (measured in maps) instead of the straight up match. These are the actual odds that were being offered at the time of the bet:
- NewBee (-1.5): 4/9
- Infamous (+1.5): 31/20
This means NewBee must win the match by two whole games/maps for your bet to be considered a winner. If NewBee wins the match 2-0, your bet is winner because NewBee covered the 1.5-game spread. If NewBee loses the match or only win by a score of 2-1, NewBee has failed to cover the spread and your bet is a loser.
The conditions for victory are more difficult in this handicap bet than they were for the straight up bet, but the potential payoff is higher. At odds of 4/9, your £100 bet would now return £145 for a total profit of £45.
This bet is more difficult to win, but the potential payout is greater than betting on them straight up at 1/14 (which were the actual odds being offered without a handicap) where a £100 bet would pay £8 in net profits. It is up to you to decide if you think it’s worth taking the handicap in return for the possibility of a bigger payout.
Outrights may be the simplest bets of them all. These bets are offered in advance of an important tournament that will feature many teams battling through multiple matches in an effort to take the first place prize. In an outright wager, you simply pick the one team that you believe is most likely to win and get paid if that team takes first place in the tournament.
Outright wagers usually pay more than any other bet because there are often many teams competing in a single tournament and picking just one to win the whole thing is difficult. With so many teams competing, the odds of any one team winning are somewhat low. The bookmakers are therefore willing to pay good money to anyone who can correctly predict the winning team.
Here’s an example from another bookmaker for a CS:GO tournament that was hosted in 2017:
- Gambit Esports: 13/20
- Vega Squadron: 3/1
- TyLoo: 4/1
- SPLYCE: 17/1
- Grayhound: 25/1
- 5Power Club: 35/1
Here, you can see there are six teams competing. Gambit Esports is the favourite to win as evidenced by the somewhat low-paying odds of 13/20 (£100 to return £165). The odds go up from there for each team based on the oddsmakers’ estimation of the likelihood of that team winning. We can see 5Power Club is paying the most at 35/1 (£100 to return £3600).
Games People Are Betting On
Online betting follows the eSports industry. That is, bookmakers look at what’s en vogue on the competitive gaming circuit and then create betting markets for those games. The games that are popular for real money betting right now include:
- League of Legends
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- Dota 2
- StarCraft II
Betting on League of Legends
League of Legends (LoL) is definitely the biggest competitive game in North America and Europe, and it may even be the biggest in the world now. The fast-paced, back-and-forth nature of the game makes it perfect for real money betting. If you can imagine streaming an intense LoL game on Twitch while also having money on the outcome, well, let’s just say it’s similar to betting on a basketball game that ends up being a close match.
The popularity of LoL provides the added benefit of outright volume. Rarely will you log on to a League of Legends betting site and face a lack of options. There’s always a high profile match or tournament just around the corner.
The most common types of bets associated with League of Legends are straight up bets on the winner of a match, outright bets on which team will win an upcoming tournament and totals on the number of kills, towers destroyed and so on.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) is a first person shooter in which teams of players compete to either kill one another or achieve an objective. For example, the terrorist team may be tasked with planting a bomb while the counter-terrorist team tries to kill the terrorists and defuse the bomb if planted.
Even before real money eSports betting blew up, CS:GO has had an element of gambling that revolves around rare skins for in-game items. What happened was people would buy skins in-game for cash and then turn around and bet those skins on CS:GO matches. Winners of skins could then take those skins and sell them on the market for straight up cash.
The legality of the whole “betting with skins” thing is questionable, especially since it is completely unregulated. There have been more than a few reports of kids getting ahold of their parents’ credit cards and going on wild spending sprees.
Online bookmakers have since stepped in to deliver actual Counter-Strike betting without the pretense of trading skins back and forth. Sites that are licensed by legitimate regulatory authorities such as the UK Gambling Commission offer the real money experience but restricted to adults and strictly regulated.
Dota 2 (short for Defense of the Ancients 2) is another multiplayer online battle arena game in a similar vein to League of Legends. The two games may look similar at a casual glance, but there are significant differences in the gameplay, mechanics and methods used to achieve victory. Many people will tell you that LoL is easier to get into while Dota 2 is a more technically challenging game that is ultimately more rewarding.
In any case, Dota 2 also has an active competitive scene. Professional Dota 2 teams travel to major tournaments, compete for million dollar prizes and earn additional money through sponsorship deals.
Betting on Dota 2 is similar to betting on LoL. As a gambler, your job is to predict the winner, number of kills and so on. Most betting sites offer thorough coverage of Dota 2 thanks to its healthy competitive aspect.
If any of you remember the days of Magic: The Gathering, you can think of Hearthstone as the online version of that. Hearthstone is a collectible card game like Magic and the goal is to reduce the opponent’s health to zero through the careful use of cards in your deck.
An online card game may not sound like the most exciting thing in the world, but Hearthstone is actually a lot of fun. There are deep levels of strategy involved with constructing your deck, choosing when to play certain cards and trying to neutralize your opponent’s offense. There are a lot of little details that come together to make Hearthstone a deeply strategic experience.
Like the other games described so far, Hearthstone features a strong competitive player-vs-player element. There are leagues, competitive tournaments with large cash payouts and professional Hearthstone players.
Betting on Hearthstone is primarily dominated by straight up wagers on an upcoming match between two players in an upcoming tournament. Other types of bets can include futures (betting on which player will win a future tournament) and props such as who will deal damage first.
StarCraft II is a real time strategy game in which you and one opponent build armies and attempt to kill each other. The objective is simple, but the means of achieving that objective introduce a depth of skill that keeps the game fresh even for veterans. It also doesn’t hurt to be quick with the keyboard and mouse.
StarCraft II is especially popular in the Asian region, particularly South Korea. Its massive following in Asia and growing popularity in the West have made StarCraft II a contender for the “most popular game in eSports” title.
When betting on StarCraft II online, your options will typically involve two different types of bets. First and most common are straight up wagers on the winner of a high profile match. The other option includes future wagers in which you bet on one specific player winning an upcoming tournament.
Smite is yet another multiplayer online battle arena with a competitive following. What makes Smite unique is that it incorporates a third-person point of view rather than the usual 3/4th overhead view used by other MOBAs. Also, rather than being based on fantasy characters like other MOBAs, Smite’s cast of characters come form the ancient gods of mythology.
As a relative newcomer to eSports, Smite has yet to develop a large betting landscape. The bigger eSports betting sites do offer wagers on Smite matches and tournaments, but the selection is still limited in comparison to the other games described on this page. That said, this game has a lot of potential and does generate a pretty decent betting handle.