What is eSports betting?
Esports betting is fast becoming one of the world’s most favorite hobbies, having exploded in popularity. Millions of people tune in on gaming streaming channels to watch their favorite gamers live in tournaments.
As with any other competitive sport, this gives way to betting as a pastime. Betting on esports is very similar to making an online bet on your favorite team or sports player. Find your market, pick your odds and place your bet. Who’s going to win the game?
History of eSports
Esports continue to move to mainstream media with events being televised on different channels, including ESPN. More and more people are watching, and it seems as if these events suddenly just appeared out of the blue.
In reality, esports have been around since the 1970s and slowly worked its way into the industry it has become today. The first video game competition was held in 1972. Stanford University invited students to compete in a space combat game called Spacewar!, which was created in 1962.
Then in 1980, Atari came into play and held the Space Invaders Championship. There were over 10,000 gamers at that event, which helped bring video games into the focus of people outside the gaming industry.
Founded in 1980, Twin Galaxies is an organization that keeps records of video games to share with the Guinness Book of World Records. With this founding, gamers around the world started racing for top scores in popular games such as Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong.
How the internet changed gaming
While the 1980s really brought the video game craze to the world, it took the internet in the 1990s to really open up a new world to gamers across the globe. The ‘90s introduced gaming systems such as Super NES and the Sega Genesis, which made gaming more accessible to people.
Nintendo grew the competitive gaming world by hosting the Nintendo World Championships. These events paved the way for leagues such as the Cyberathlete Professional League and the Professional Gamers League, the first real esports leagues.
Gaming in the 21st century
The '90s put all the pieces together for esports to explode when the new century rolled around. Video games became more popular with better graphics, and internet cafes gave gamers access to gaming PCs they may not have been able to afford at home. By 2010, there were tournaments being held across the globe for gamers to compete in. Nintendo returned with the Wii and had over 400,000 participants in their Wii Games Summer 2010 event.
The founding of Twitch in 2011 gave gamers a platform to compete with one another. By broadcasting events and tournaments to viewers in all countries, everyone with an interest in gaming was able to watch, and esports exploded, becoming immensely popular as a spectator sport among the masses.
The big leagues
Today, major world championships are held annually. The League of Legends World Championship, which has quickly gained a cult-like following, has amassed over 60 million viewers in recent years. The top prizes in this championship total USD $1 million.
The International, which hosts Dota 2 gamers, was first held in 2011, and only the top 16 gaming teams were invited to participate in the event. Today, top prizes are well over USD $10 million, with total prize pools easily doubling this amount. This is truly a testament to how massive the gaming industry has become.
Other world championships for specific games like Fortnite, Starcraft, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are quickly adding to the tournament tour that gamers across the globe can compete in.
History of eSports betting
While betting itself is not new, having been around since the ancient Romans bet on chariot races, esports betting didn’t take off until just recently. In the 1970s, gamers started betting on arcade games, such as Asteroids and Invaders. Bets were small and placed in person at local networking parties.
As the internet became more popular in the 1990s and players realized they could connect and play multiplayer games through routers, betting started to become more popular in the arena of gaming.
Betting skins, an in-game item that allows gamers to change the look of their character, became popular, but was not controlled and was illegal in most countries. Sites became restricted and gamers had to find a new betting method.
Websites started popping up that allowed people to place money bets, similar to placing a bet on a sport. These websites offer live streams and chatting and of course, odds on players in various tournaments. People can review the odds and place their bets based on the information they have been given.
Today, the industry is highly regulated. By picking a reliable site, bettors can ensure that their data is secure and private and that the site is operating within the law.
Why has eSports become so popular?
Esports have become increasingly popular in recent years. Video games appeal to a wide variety of people in many age groups. In 2022, there were over 3,24 billion gamers on the planet.
Video games are rampant among people of all ages. Younger people learn and grow in this environment and adults use it as a form of entertainment, and sometimes as an escape from the real world. They become passionate about their favorite games, consoles, and hardware. They find and engage in their favorite genres in the gaming world and use these games for more than just entertainment.
Creating a community
With the internet so widely available, gaming has created a community. It has drawn together people from all walks of life who share the same interest. Live events allow gamers to meet in person and are often streamed to those who are unable to attend.
Streaming platforms allow viewers of these events to listen to commentary and communicate with other viewers.
Video gaming as a career
Gamers may look at esports as a career move. Although not everyone will make the cut, this opportunity is widely available to mass populations. Through practice, rigorous training, and dedicating hours every day to mastering their chosen game, gamers can consider moving into an esports career.
Unlike physical sports, video gaming is accessible to those with certain physical disabilities, such as mobility issues. It is also available to people of all ages, so younger players can fully engage in competition.
Because of this availability, esports has become an engaging topic for the young and old alike, and many people are looking to gaming platforms for home entertainment.
Gaming as a spectator sport
With the internet, video game streaming has become as popular as sports streaming. People are able to bet on games, tournaments, and other events. Gamers are becoming celebrities in much the same sense as athletes. They have fans, their own websites, and media channels, and often stream their gaming.
Esports has become a high-stakes venture, with people betting on these celebrity gamers and the tournaments they enter. While there certainly isn’t the same physical risk as there is to an athlete, the games and tournaments are no less suspenseful as gamers play out different scenarios and their fans watch intently through their favorite streaming channels. These tournaments are often broadcast just as widely as professional sports.
Esports betting – what you need to know
Esports betting has taken the world by storm, quickly surpassing sports such as tennis, basketball, and baseball in the amount of money being bet each year. But before placing your bet, it’s best to know some of the rules and nuances involved in the industry.
A person needs to look at the team statistics, but not only that. They also need to be aware of the characteristics of every player on the team. If a team has a weak player, a bettor needs to be aware of that, and also of how that player compensates for his weaknesses.
Look for teams that have been together for some time. These teams have had time to build tactics for the games they play. Bettors need to understand the patterns of each player and how they react to different situations.
Bettors must also understand the different types of basic bets that can be placed, from main outcome bets to total bets. Each type of bet awards money for different things, from victory at a game to total points accrued.
If a bettor has knowledge of the game and the players, it is safe to start placing different bets on an esports betting site. If they do not, it’s best to do some homework before getting involved in online betting.
How can I trust an eSports bookmaker?
There are esports betting sites popping up across the internet and most of them are trustworthy and reliable. However, there are a few sites, as with any industry, that may leave a bettor with a bad feeling.
How does a person avoid those sites? There are a few key things that a bettor can look for before they decide to place their bets online with one bookmaker or another.
Choosing the best online bookmaker
The criteria for the best online betting site will be different for each bettor, depending on the games or tournaments they are looking to place bets on and the types of bets they are looking to place. There are, however, a few guidelines that all bettors should follow when looking for their perfect site.
- Licensing. Check the footer of the online bookmaker to ensure they are licensed with either the Malta Gambling Authority, United Kingdom Gambling Commission or Swedish Gambling Authority. This license will ensure that the site uses fair and safe practices.
- Payment Method. Check the website to be sure that the bookmaker supports both your deposit and withdrawal methods of choice. Credit cards, eWallets, prepaid cards, and cryptocurrency can be used on many of the sites.
- Payment Terms. These terms vary from site to site. A bettor should read and understand the payout terms and the payout limits for any bookmaker he chooses to use.
- Promotions and Bonuses. If using a site that has promotions and bonuses, look for clear rules around these items. Understanding the payouts or claims around these items is crucial.
Safe and secure bookmakers
Bookmakers have your personal information, as well as details of your credit card or other payment methods. This makes it important to make sure that your bookmaker is trustworthy and that their website is secure.
An online bookmaker may be fair and have good odds, but if their software is not secure against hacking and viruses, it is time to look elsewhere for a bookie. Here are some things to check for on their sites:
- Labels. Organizations such as Certified Fair Gambling and eCOGRA take security seriously. Knowing that a bookmaker has been checked and is trusted by these organizations is a good step to ensuring your security.
- Security Certificates. Many websites today are encrypted for extra security. Look at the bookmaker’s site for an SSL certificate that ensures this encryption. This makes it harder for third parties to get your information.
- Credible Software. Check what software the bookmaker is using. If they have random number generators and software that goes above and beyond the basics, these sites tend to be more secure.
Check a site’s reputation
Just as with any site where items are purchased online, the reputation of the site should be considered before betting. Checking a bookmaker’s reputation will let a bettor know about any issues that a bookie has had in the past. By checking in with other customers, bettors can save themselves time and money should a bookie have had past issues.
Online reviews can also help a bettor determine the reputation of a company. By looking at how many reviews there are online, how far apart they were placed, and what the reviews themselves say, a bettor can learn a lot about how a bookmaker operates. If the reviews are repetitive and all placed within a week of each other, beware.
Employees may have been asked to place the reviews. But if they are spaced over time and customers have a variety of things to say, both good and bad, then the reviews are most likely legit and can be fairly reliable.
How do I know that matches are fair?
Everyone has heard the story about an event being rigged, where an athlete threw the game or a boxer threw the match. So how does a bettor know the same thing isn’t happening in the esports arena?
Esports is a regulated industry, with an Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC). This group is a non-profit association established in 2015. It was founded to prevent esports betting fraud, match manipulation, and corruption. This commission upholds the integrity of the sport.
Their mission statement is “To be the recognized guardian of the integrity of esports and to take responsibility for disruption, prevention, investigation and prosecution of all forms of cheating and malpractice, including, but not limited to, match manipulation and doping with the overarching objective of protecting youth, promoting industry investment and safeguarding sporting integrity in esports.”
And the commission does not take their responsibilities lightly. They have regulations all participants must follow, and any gamer or other parties caught not following these regulations may be fined and/or suspended from future play. The findings of any hearings held where the participant is found guilty are publicly announced in order to uphold integrity at future events.
Events are most often held by esports event hosts, including DreamHack, Electronic Sports League (ELS), Game Belong, PGL, and Gfinity. These hosts rely on sponsors, media, and viewers, just as in traditional sports. Fair play keeps everyone coming back.
These hosts have well-established rules upfront, and they have the backing to enforce these rules. They also have a match dispute process in place for any disputes that may arise during the gaming competition. These companies often hold live tournaments where they can monitor the software and hardware that each participant is allowed to use.
Internationally, sets of rules around integrity have been put in place to keep players in line and to keep fair play for everyone. Esports hosts and the Esports Integrity Commission are not afraid to uphold these rules, and players have been banned for not following tournament rules.
As esports continue to grow and evolve into mainstream media, hosts and the ESIC strive to create an ecosystem of fair play for gamers, bettors, and viewers around the world. They hold the gamers to the highest standards of integrity in order to preserve the sport for future generations.
What kinds of bets can I place on eSports?
Similar to betting on sports, esports betting has different categories and ways to place bets. There are several different things to bet on overall, and in some cases, each game has its own unique items to bet on as well. Here are some of the most common bets that bettors see from different bookmakers.
- Match Winner. Bettors place their bets on a particular team winning the match. In this case, each team will have a number next to them, which is their odds of winning, and bettors can use this information to place an intelligent bet on their choice for a winning team. This is the most popular type of bet placed in the esports arena.
- Outrights/Futures. For these bets, a person places their bet on which team or individual will win an entire competition, as opposed to just the match. There may also be an option to bet on which teams or individuals will qualify for the competition.
- Handicaps. With this type of betting, people bet on wins and losses of a team, with a certain handicap applied. The handicap is only applied to the team that the person bets on and then the results are tallied to see if the bettor won or lost their bet.
- Totals. Totals refer to the total number of points/kills that are achieved by both teams or individuals playing. A bettor will need to decide if they believe the total will be over or under the number that the bookmaker has listed on their site when the bettor places their bet.
- Correct Score. This wager is very straightforward. The bettor must guess the exact score of the match in order to win their bet. These matches may be played best of three or best of five, as well as just individual games.
- Passage. For a passage bet, the bettor is betting on which of the two teams will make the playoffs for the event or which team will play higher in the standings at the end of the match.
- Victory in Tournament. Players bet on who will be the final winner of the tournament in this wager. Because of the large number of competitive players, correctly guessing the winner is fairly difficult and the stakes may be high.
As with all types of betting, each game and tournament may have its own specialties that a bookmaker can throw in for the bettors. This may include things such as the most valuable player, the first team to draw blood, or the first team to win a map. Each bookmaker may include different specialties for different events.
What can I bet on in eSports?
Esports allow for betting on a variety of items. We mentioned real money betting above and how there are many different types of wagers that a bettor can place. But there is more to esports betting than just money. A bettor must choose their game or game type. They also have the option to bet on streamers and can place bets using various gaming items, including skins.
Fantasy betting isn’t just for sports. Esports has fantasy teams for people to bet on as well. This simple concept allows you to select a virtual team from a pool of real-life players. You then compete against other teams. Your team earns points based on the actual performance of the players you selected, and the points you earned are compared to another teams’ points to determine who wins.
Betting on streamers
Betting on streamers is similar to all other wagering. Bettors place their bets on the performance of a specific streamer. Bets vary from stream to stream and game to game, keeping people guessing as to what they can bet on for each stream. Some bets are as simple as guessing the winner of a match and others can be more complicated, involving betting on specific scenarios that may or may not occur in each match.
Betting on streamers is a fast-paced adventure that keeps bettors on their toes. Markets are available for short durations, so bettors must be willing to speed bet and check back frequently.
Item & skin eSports bets
With skin betting or item betting, players bet with things other than money. Players can use skins or items and bet them on the results of an esports match. Bettors place bets on third-party websites where they can buy, sell and trade skins. When the bettor deposits their items on the website, the site gives it a dollar amount. If a bettor wins, they get the item they deposited and another prize, but if they lose, they lose their item.
Skin betting is a form of gambling, but it is not regulated by the government.
Shooter games work much the same way as other esports games. Tournaments for Call of Duty, Halo, Counter-Strike and other games take place every year with bettors across the globe taking part. Shooter games tend to have a huge pot in their tournaments, and if a bettor knows the tactics of the game, they can come away a big winner.
As with all esports games, bets can be placed on the winner of a match, tournament, or different happenings in the game itself.
Esports betting tips
Following proper betting procedures and listening to a mentor who has done some past betting will get most bettors in the winning categories. But when a bettor is looking to increase their knowledge and their odds, there are a few additional tips that can help.
- Bet on esports that are familiar. A bettor sticking to games they know best can help them increase their odds.
- Find a good bookmaker. Look for a bookie that has odds, bonuses, and promotions that allow bettors to comfortably place their bets. This may be different for every bettor. Check out the bookmaker to be sure they have the appropriate licenses and that they provide the games to be bet on.
- Stay informed. Bettors should stay informed about their favorite games at all times so they understand the players, and the odds they are betting on. Gaming and technology change quickly, which means that staying abreast of updates and changes is a must if a bettor plans to place intelligent bets.
- Study the tournament. Bookmakers often offer promotions that coincide with specific tournaments and other events. A bettor should learn everything they can about the tournament and the players before taking advantage of these promotions.
At the end of the day, remember that betting is gambling, and a bettor may lose or win their bet. Be smart and bet safely to enjoy the art of betting for years to come.
What Kind of promotional value do the bookies offer?
Each bookmaker creates unique bonuses and promotional offers for their website as an attempt to draw in more bettors. When a bettor is looking at these promotions, there are two things to consider. The first is how much a bettor must pay to the site and the second is how much they get for that bonus.
There are several different ways that bookies can set these promotional offers up, including:
- Max amount. In order to protect the bookmaker, welcome promotions have a limit to how much a bettor can claim. This amount can vary by bookmaker, and some of them offer bonuses reaching USD $600. A bettor must throw in a certain amount in order to get the full amount of the bonus.
- Qualifying odds. Bookmakers sometimes offer bonus codes or free bets, but bettors then must bet a certain amount of money at odds of a certain size. For example, a bettor can place a bet at 1.25 odds to claim a $10 bonus. The amount of these bonuses may change based on the odds.
- Wagering requirements. Many bookies put requirements in place that state the bettor must bet the bonus amount a certain number of times before withdrawing any cash from the promotion. This encourages bettors to bet more money, more often. Bettors must check with their site to see what the requirements are for any promotions they are accepting on the site they use.
When accepting promotions and playing with the bookie's money, a bettor must also be aware that the bonuses often must be claimed by a certain date. Again, each bookmaker will be different and the timeframe can range from one day to 365 days. Checking the requirements on each site will help a bettor make the right decision.
About the author
Jason "PixelPioneer" Tanaka, a tech-savvy Seattle native, is the visionary behind EsportRanker. Melding a lifelong passion for gaming with a keen business insight, Jason has transformed EsportRanker into the ultimate hub for esports enthusiasts globally.