Esports Betting Guide
Esports betting is seeing a massive surge in popularity and it’s not hard to see why.
Beyond the current global health crisis keeping everyone indoors, the increased number of esports available to bet on and the growing volume, quality and variety of tournaments being played have been major factors.
A few of the most popular esports titles you can bet on or play real money fantasy contests in these days include:
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO)
- League of Legends (LoL)
- Defense of the Ancients 2 (almost universally called simply Dota 2)
- Call of Duty
- Rocket League
On top of the esports stalwarts, there are also a growing number of “Sports Sim” esports titles building a strong following among bettors. That list includes FIFA, NBA2K20, the Formula 1 Esports Series and eNASCAR.
Best esports betting sites
esports Betting Apps
If you’re looking for a betting app that offers regular esports betting markets of fantasy games, then the DraftKings and FanDuel apps are likely your best bet.
New DraftKings sign-ups get $20 in free play when signing up for the Fantasy app (or $50 free for the sportsbook app), which is a great way to get some extra play to see what esports betting or esports Fantasy is all about.
The DraftKings app is available for iPhone devices; Android users can log in via a browser to access a very similar online site.
- Claim $50 free and try esports betting on the DraftKings Sportsbook app
- Claim $20 free and try esports Fantasy on the DraftKings Fantasy app
FanDuel offers new sportsbook customers a risk-free bet when they sign up which, depending on how much you wager, can be worth as much as $1,000. New Fantasy app sign-ups can claim $10 with first $10 deposit.
The FanDuel app is available on Android and iPhone. Making a bet or entering an esports Fantasy contest is quite easy.
- Claim your up to $1,000 risk-free bet at FanDuel Sportsbook here
- Claim your $10 on deposit at the FanDuel Fantasy app here
Esports fantasy games
Until standardized and consistent esports betting markets are offered across major sportsbooks, your most consistent entry point to esports contests for real money is via esports Fantasy contest.
Both DraftKings and FanDuel offer a growing range of fantasy esports games for its customers, including fantasy games for:
- League of Legends
- Rocket League
- Call of Duty
- eNASCAR (iRacing)
Fantasy esports games are legal in states that allow real money daily fantasy sports contests, which covers most of the continental US. Esports Fantasy game formats are comparable to Fantasy games offered for standard sports DFS and include
- Guarantees (top finishers get share of guaranteed prize pool)
- 50-50 contests (half the field gets paid, other half doesn’t)
Prize pools and contest volumes/variety are expanding rapidly across both platforms. Fantasy contests are offered around all of the major tournaments in global esports leagues.
DraftKings, for example, has committed to a $400,000 guaranteed League of Legends Fantasy Championship in 2020. To register a new account and begin playing esports Fantasy contests for real money, claim your start-up bonuses via the links below:
- Claim $20 free and play esports Fantasy at DraftKings
- Claim $10 on $10 deposit and play esports Fantasy at FanDuel
Where can I bet on esports in the US?
While licensed and regulated online sports betting is growing by leaps and bounds in the US, the majority of states still don’t have fully legalized online betting platforms. That obviously affects the range of esports betting markets you can find from state to state.
In West Virginia, esports betting is permitted but only if the players competing are confirmed as over the age of 18. Colorado recently launched its legal sports betting industry and allows for esports betting as well.
Nevada and New Jersey have both passed legislation that allows for forms of esports betting within each state, although there is yet to be consistent esports markets offered.
There are a number of states in which esports betting is still in somewhat of a grey area. New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island don’t specifically ban esports betting, but also don’t state that it’s allowed. Indiana however does ban esports betting.
Esports DFS, or Daily Fantasy, is allowed as well in licensed states with free-to-play and real money games offered.
It’s worth remembering that the minimum gambling age in most states that allow any form of betting is 21, although there are a small number of states that do allow those 18 and older to engage in some form of betting.
How does esports betting work?
Esports betting is simply placing a bet on the outcome of an esports match or tournament. It’s essentially the same as placing a sports bet — only the result of your bet will be decided by competitors playing one another on one of a number of popular esports titles.
As of right now, in states where esports betting is authorized and regulated (WV and CO), you are restricted to fairly standard bets, such as who will win the match or win the overall tournament. But as time passes and esports become more and more popular, more context-based bets that are available in other parts of the world for esports bettors are likely become available.
The following esports markets are offered most regularly:
- League of Legends
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- Dota 2
- Rocket League
- Call of Duty
- StarCraft II
There is also betting available across a range of other esports throughout the year, typically when the esport in question has one of its biggest tournaments taking place. This includes betting on the following esports:
- FIFA (Soccer)
- Madden (American football)
- NBA2K20 (Basketball)
- Formula 1 Esports Series
- Apex Legends
- Rainbow Six Siege
- Streetfighter (and other fighting games)
- PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
As the esports industry grows and diversifies, the number of esports you can bet on and the number of tournaments and matches covered by esports betting books will continue to grow.
Esports odds are set in the same way as sports betting odds, using a combination of:
- Expert market knowledge.
- Strengths and weaknesses of the players/competitors.
- Complicated algorithms to come up with a price for any given esports market.
Currently, there are some stipulations in place for the type of esports bets you can make in Nevada (with similar stipulations in place for New Jersey). This includes stating that bets can only be made on the following esports betting markets:
- Head to head
- Winner of each match
- Overall season winner
Additional wagers could be allowed in the future, but if a sports betting service wants to offer them, each bet type would need a separate application and approval from authorities.
In New Jersey, a bill for permanent authorization of betting on games of skill, such as esports, is still to pass through committee. Until it does, companies in the state will have to ask regulators to approve individual esports events for betting on.
Is esports betting safe and fair?
Integrity is fundamental to any betting market, and the good news is that esports betting is as safe and fair as betting on any standard sports event.
At the highest level for all esports, the penalties are so severe for players deliberately losing games, or using cheats to enhance their gameplay (this can include lifetime bans, as well as clawback of earnings), that players are compelled to honestly try their best.
With play scrutinized by expert callers and millions of fans online, it is extremely difficult for players to play anything less than fairly. Furthermore, drug testing and player welfare systems are being put in place to ensure that all players adhere to the strict codes of conduct teams expect from their esports professionals.
Given the rigorous nature of esports and how tournaments are organized and run, you can be assured that an esports bet is as safe and fair as any sporting bet you would place.
League of Legends betting
League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game in which teams of five players select from a stable of “champions.” Each champion has a specific set of skills that the individual players can use in the game to help their team to victory.
As the teams battle in the game, players can earn gold for performing certain tasks, which they can use to purchase enhancements, items and abilities to help their team’s chances of success.
- Top LoL tournaments: LoL World Championships, Spring Split, Summer Split (LCK, LPL, LCS and LEC), Mid-Season Invitational.
- Top LoL teams: FunPlus Phoenix, G2 Esports, SKT Telecom T1, Invictus Gaming, Griffin, Fnatic, Damwon Gaming, Royal Never Give Up, Team Liquid, Flash Wolves.
Read our full breakdown of League of Legends betting and DFS here:
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive betting
CS:GO is a first-person perspective shooter where teams of five players compete against each other to either:
- Complete a goal (or stop a team completing a goal).
- Claim victory by eliminating all opposition team members from the map (which is the term often used to describe one round of CS:GO gaming).
Top CS:GO tournaments:
- ESL One Events
- CS:GO Major Championship
- Major Events
- BLAST Premier Events
- Intel Extreme Masters
- ESL Pro League
Top CS:GO teams: Astralis, Natus Vincere, mousesports, Fnatic, G2 Esports, Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses, FaZe Clan, 100 Thieves, MAD Lions.
Dota 2 betting
Dota 2 is very similar to League of Legends in that it is a MOBA game that features teams of five players. As in League of Legends, the aim of the team is to outwit and defeat its opponent on the map.
Players get to pick from a collection of 119 “heroes” available to each team at the start of the game, all of which have their own skills and abilities that they can use to help their team or hinder their opponents.
- Top Dota 2 tournaments: The International, Dota Pro Circuit, Dota 2 Majors, DreamLeague, ESL One, EPICENTER, ONE Esports Majors, MDL Majors.
- Top Dota 2 teams: Team Secret, Vici Gaming, Evil Geniuses, Team Nigma, Virtus.pro, TNC Predator, Team Liquid, Invictus Gaming, Alliance, Fnatic, OG.
Overwatch is a multiplayer first-person shooter game by Blizzard that pits two teams of six against each other. Similar in design to CS:GO, although based on a more futuristic theme, each player in the team can select from a roster of 32 characters, each of which has its own specific skill-set to help the team to victory.
Victory can be achieved by completing an objective or thwarting your opponent from doing so.
- Top Overwatch tournaments: Overwatch World League, Overwatch World Cup.
- Top Overwatch teams: San Francisco Shock, New York Excelsior, Vancouver Titans, London Spitfire, Philadelphia Fusion, Shanghai Dragons, Seoul Dynasty, Los Angeles Gladiators, Guangzhou Charge, Atlanta Reign.
Rocket League betting
Rocket League can best be described as a futuristic soccer game played by vehicles in a custom-built arena, which can be changed depending on the game mode.
As in soccer, the teams (which consist of up to four players) defeat their opponents by scoring more goals.
- Top Rocket League tournaments: RLCS Season, Intel World Open Finals, Spring Series.
- Top Rocket League teams/players: Turbopolsa, Kaydop, jstn., GarretG, Scrub Killa, AztraL, Chausette45, SquishyMuffinz, JKnaps, Bluey.
Call of Duty esports betting
Call of Duty is a first-person shooter series of games where players compete as teams against other opponents in battle. Similar to CS:GO and Overwatch, teams can achieve victory by killing all the opponents on another team, or by completing a task that is defined as the goal of a particular game.
Rather than pick characters, players can outfit their soldiers with different weapon types to help bring specific abilities and perks to their team.
- Top Call of Duty tournaments: Call of Duty League.
- Top Call of Duty teams: Chicago Huntsmen, Dallas Empire, Los Angeles OpTic, New York Subliners, Atlanta FaZe, Seattle Surge, London Royal Ravens, Toronto Ultra, Minnesota Rokkr, Los Angeles Guerrillas.
Top esports tournament betting
The top esports tournaments around the globe attract millions of viewers on live stream and (in normal times) thousands of fans in attendance at these events.
There are a number of blue ribbon esports events that are widely regarded in the esports community as the most prestigious events of the year. These also attract a high number of esports bets from interested punters, too. Some of these major events are:
- League of Legends World Championships — Perhaps the biggest esports event in terms of fan viewership.
- Spring and Summer Splits — The qualifying events for the League of Legends World Championships. The events in Korea (LCK), North America (LCS), Europe (LEC) and China (LPL) are the most lucrative and popular events and tend to produce the strongest teams.
- The International — The world championship for Dota 2 is regularly the most lucrative esports tournament of the year, with revenues in recent years surpassing $30 million for teams for this one event alone.
- Dota Pro Circuit — A series of minor and major tournaments with prize pools of $300,000 and $1 million respectively that sees Dota 2 teams compete against one another across the globe to earn enough points to qualify for The International.
- Overwatch World League — Franchises from China, Europe, South Korea and North America compete against one another across four stages in two divisions each year to decide who claims a place in the playoffs and a chance to become the Overwatch League World Champions.
- Call of Duty League — Launching in 2020, this uses the same franchise model as the Overwatch World League and a similar league and playoff system to decide which is the best Call of Duty team in the world.
Esports live streams
One of the most appealing aspects of esports is that most tournaments are incredibly easy to access, as you can catch the live streams of the games on specialist platforms such as Twitch, Mixer, YouTube and Facebook Gaming.
Virtual sports and simulated sports betting
The first thing to note here is that esports are very different from virtual sports or betting on sport simulations. Whereas esports are competitive games by players and teams, virtual sports and sports simulations are both entirely controlled by software, which uses a defined set of parameters and a random number generator to decide the result.
So whereas esports have a clear competitive and skill element, virtual sports and similar are simply about producing a result for the purposes of creating a betting market.
Thanks to DraftKings’ lucrative partnership with Inspired Entertainment, it is able to offer a range of up to 14 virtual sports on its service, including virtual basketball and the forthcoming virtual NFL Alumni Legends football game.
In addition, we have already mentioned that esports services can grow over time, and it is highly likely that sites like DraftKings will offer betting on a number of sports simulations, such as NBA2K, Madden and FIFA.
DraftKings also runs its own contests using Madden Simulations from the Madden 2020 game, which simulates a game between two real NFL teams using the software and which allows its customers to pick a fantasy team whose points will be collected from the simulation. More on virtual sports here:
How to make a deposit for esports betting
The first step to make a deposit is to sign up with your choice of esports betting app. DraftKings and FanDuel are two great options, and you can use either an app or browser to register with the site.
Once you register, simply make a deposit via any of the common methods (Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, e-wallet, etc.) into your account (remembering to activate your bonus) in order to have some funds available.
The great thing about esports betting is that it is as quick and easy to bet on esports as it is on regular sports.
Matched betting on esports
At the moment matched betting isn’t available at FanDuel and DraftKings. However, other providers in other parts of the world are starting to offer this option to punters.
Esports Betting FAQ
Each state regulates esports betting within its borders.
In most states you have to be 21 to bet on esports.
Yes, you can use PayPal for betting on esports with FanDuel and DraftKings.
In 2019, $8 billion was believed to have been wagered on esports, and predictions reckon that in future years $16 billion in annual wagers is likely. In 2019, 205 million people played esports, which explains why betting on these events is so popular and still growing annually.
There are stringent observations, rules and regulations in place to ensure all top-level esports games are fairly contested. In addition, the punishments for not playing fairly are so severe that no player would likely consider this option anyway. Another thing to note is that within esports gaming there is the esports integrity commission ESIC that deals with issues of match-fixing and anti-corruption. Furthermore, players can now be routinely drug tested when competing in many top esports.