CSGO Betting Guide
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is the latest installment in a franchise that started back in 1999. This first-person shooter came about as a fortunate accident when two visionary developers created a Half-Life mod. That mod spawned an entire series and today CS:GO remains an esports phenomenon.
First-person shooters in general are very popular with esports betting fans, but Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is head and shoulders above the competition. It has the highest number of betting markets among all FPS games and there are major tournaments running throughout the year.
For now you can find limited CSGO betting markets at US online sportsbooks in a few states, notably Colorado, West Virginia and New Jersey. Fantasy sports platforms such as DraftKings and FanDuel, which are available more widely in the US, have also picked up on CSGO’s popularity and added a full menu of CSGO fantasy contests.
Best CSGO betting sites
Is CSGO gambling legal in the US?
CS:GO is popular on both sides of the Atlantic, and some of the best teams are from the United States. Interest in the game is rising, and many players and people watching also enjoy betting on the prominent tournaments.
Unfortunately, sports betting is not legal nationwide, and residents of certain states enjoy better terms than others. Sports betting in Nevada was the first regulated sports betting market, and today residents and visitors of the following states can also wager on esports legally:
Current CSGO competitions that have been approved for gambling in West Virginia and Colorado:
- ESL Pro League Season 11
- ESL One: Rio 2020
- Blast Premier: Spring
- ESL One Cologne
- ESL Pro League Season 12
- Blast Premier Fall Regular Season
- Blast Premier: Fall
CS:GO events need to be approved individually in both New Jersey and Nevada.
Play Fantasy CS:GO
In most states, esports betting isn’t fully legalized yet but players do have a convenient alternative – Daily Fantasy Sports.
CSGO gambling fans of legal age can set up an account and play fantasy esports in over 40 states; only seven (Washington, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Louisiana, Arizona and Hawaii) actually prohibit it.
As for CSGO fantasy contests, you can expect a similar lineup to what you’d find for traditional DFS centered around the biggest CSGO championships. Game formats include:
- Guaranteed prize pools
- Double or nothings
- Satellite qualifiers to bigger buy-in contests
The age requirements for both traditional betting and fantasy esports are the same in the states where these activities are legal. Players need to be 21 or older to set up an account and bet on CS:GO matches.
Best CSGO betting apps
CSGO betting and apps go hand-in-hand at most bookmakers. The most obvious way of placing a bet is straight in the browser, but punters also have the option of downloading the apps.
Handheld devices (iPhones, tablets) are ideal for esports betting live, and the specialized betting apps further enhance the gaming experience. You can also launch Twitch and YouTube streams alongside the app if the sportsbooks don’t broadcast the CS:GO tournaments themselves.
In many cases, esports betting platforms have integrated the streams from these two platforms on their websites. The apps can also make players eligible for exclusive bonuses that are only offered to those who have made the transition to the betting app.
The two top apps for CSGO betting and CSGO fantasy are provided by DraftKings and FanDuel. Download the apps and claim your startup bonuses below:
- Claim $20 free and play CS:GO Fantasy at DraftKings
- Claim 2 free entries with first $10 deposit and play CS:GO Fantasy at FanDuel
How does CSGO betting work?
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a fast-paced game that lends itself well to both pre-match betting and live betting. It’s also possible to bet on tournament winners well in advance as sportsbooks publish futures odds several weeks ahead.
The most exciting bets are the ones placed on the special markets; these are the ones we’ll explain below.
Match and series CSGO gambling
Unlike other popular video games such as League of Legends, where the winners of each championship round are often decided after one game, CS:GO is a best-of-three affair.
The number of matches can increase for the later stages of prominent tournaments, but players can routinely bet on the first team to win two games. This is the most straightforward type of bet and the obvious choice for beginners as you only need to predict the winner of the series.
Individual match betting is also possible, and it usually benefits from slightly better odds when backing the favorites. A variety of series betting is on the total number of matches played in a series.
If you have a hard time picking winners, you can simply bet on whether the series will end after two or three matches. For the sake of bigger odds, punters can predict the winner and the exact score of the series.
Bet on total CSGO frags
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive matches consist of 30 rounds, and the winner is the team that wins 16 of them. There are plenty of kills scored on both sides, and sportsbooks offer markets to bet on the total number of frags recorded.
You can even bet on the total number of kills scored by individual players, which makes each round more exciting. Those who appreciate betting on totals can take advantage of this opportunity and also bet on the total number of rounds played during the series.
CSGO handicap betting
Most CSGO matches featured by sportsbooks are rather balanced, as they involve top teams performing in major tournaments. There are, however, instances where one team is significantly better than the other and the 2-0 score line looks very likely.
If the odds are not high enough to justify the risks, you can bet on the margin of victory in each round. Handicap betting comes in handy as it allows you to either back the favorites to cover the spread or the underdog not to lose by a crushing margin.
Real money vs. CSGO skins betting
Most Counter-Strike gamblers prefer traditional sportsbooks where they can deposit and bet real money. The connection between risk and reward is more obvious and players know precisely how much they win if they make the right decision. They also enjoy the advantage of having deposits matched and receiving additional bonuses from recurring or ongoing promotions.
In some countries where real money CSGO gambling isn’t legalized, skins betting has become a phenomenon. Instead of operating with real currency, players compete for “skins,” which are stylized versions of the in-game weapons. These can be traded for real money, so at the end of the day, there is financial compensation.
Skin betting might be tempting, but the problem is that the operators offering this alternative are usually unregulated offshore companies. This poses obvious potential troubles, and whenever players have the option to go for legal CS:GO betting, they should do it.
Major CSGO contests and top teams
There are dozens of CSGO tournaments scheduled throughout the year, so the betting opportunities are numerous. Among them there are two or three major competitions every 12 months that bring together the best teams in the world.
Qualifiers take weeks and, except for a handful of invited teams, most of the future participants have to go through the qualification rounds. This provides you with a chance to get a better sense of how good they are and see the balance of power between teams and players.
FACEIT Major: London
This is a tournament sponsored by Valve, with a guaranteed prize pool of $1 million. The 2018 edition was a major hit, with 24 teams competing for a share of the guaranteed prize pool. As the first installment in the FACEIT series, it brought the best teams to London and it was eventually won by Astralis.
ESL One: Rio Major 2020
The most anticipated tournament of 2020, ESL One: Rio Major had to be delayed due to COVID-19. Because of the unforeseen circumstances, the guaranteed prize pool was doubled so it will be the first tournament with a $2 million prize pool.
StarLadder Berlin Major
In 2019, the StarLadder Berlin Major marked an important premiere for StarLadder, as it was the first CS:GO tournament hosted by the organization. With its guaranteed prize pool of $1 million, it was a major stop on the CS:GO calendar. Astralis prevailed, confirming the team’s favorite status.
Intel Extreme Masters Season XIII
Katowice, Poland, is a city famous for its esports competitions, and in 2019 it hosted the Intel Extreme Masters Season XIII. Intel has been one of the main sponsors of CS:GO tournaments, and this event also had a $1 million prize pool. The event marked the beginning of the season, and it was, predictably, won by Astralis.
ELEAGUE Major: Boston
One of the most important tournaments hosted on American soil, the ELEAGUE Major: Boston was won by the local favorites Cloud9. This is another tournament with a million-dollar prize pool and 24 participating teams, hosted by Valve under its rebranded format.
Recent CSGO results
The last couple of years were dominated by Astralis, the team that has won the most CSGO majors. The Danish superstars have won millions of dollars in these events and were almost always considered the favorites at sportsbooks. The team has struggled in the first months of 2020, but it is still one of the top teams.
Natus Vincere is one of Astralis’ archrivals and a strong contender in major tournaments. The Russian outfit is both experienced and talented, well capable of upsetting the favorites in any event. Other strong teams with good results over the last couple of years are Cloud9, FaZe, Fnatic and mousesports.
Here’s how the most recent major tournaments played out:
- Astralis wins the StarLadder Berlin Major 2019.
- Astralis defeats ENCE in the IEM Intel Extreme Masters XIII final.
- Astralis prevails at the FACEIT Major: London 2018.
- C9 outshines FaZe in the ELEAGUE Major: Atlanta 2017 final.
- FaZe wins the PGL Major Kraków 2017.
- Astralis wins the ELEAGUE Major: Atlanta 2017 over VP.
CSGO gambling tips
CSGO gambling isn’t rocket science, but it’s not the most predictable affair, either. To boost your chances in the early stages of CSGO betting, when you’re still learning the ropes, consider these three key pieces of betting advice.
- Many series go the distance: It might look on paper as if there is a significant discrepancy in skill and experience between the teams involved. The truth is that few series are decided in just two games, and even the weaker teams have a strong map. We advise you to bet on more than 2.5 maps to be played, or consider the underdog to win at least one map whenever the odds are worthwhile.
- Place small bets on overtime: Betting on the better team to cover the spread is not a good idea because the odds are usually too low on decent spreads. Asian handicaps are also risky the other way around, as a team that gets ahead can run away with the match. Whenever evenly matched teams meet, you should consider a small bet on the game to go over time, as the odds are good.
- Steer clear of exotic markets: Sportsbooks gain the biggest edge from exotic markets, such as correct match score or the team to win pistol rounds. The odds seem high, but they are usually not high enough to cover the risks, especially when you are tasked with predicting the exact score. The “team to win pistol round” is perhaps one of the safest CSGO betting props.
Is CSGO gambling safe and fair?
It is entirely safe and fair if you only bet with a licensed and regulated sportsbook. Those who apply for a license need to pass the scrutiny of regulators, and their business is always monitored for fairness.
As for the game itself, the major tournaments enjoy the same attention from organizers as traditional sports competitions. The threat of match fixing is taken seriously and, so far, with great success.
For a CSGO league or event to be permitted for real money betting or fantasy games, it has to meet the strict expectations of the state’s gaming control agency.
How to make a deposit for CSGO gambling
Sportsbooks offering Counter-Strike: Global Offensive betting feature many payment methods. Players need to sign up for an account, pass the verification process and they can deposit by credit and debit card, e-wallets and wire transfers.
DraftKings and FanDuel focus on fantasy esports, but they offer the same payment methods for US bettors including PayPal. All transactions are encrypted, and the platforms work with respectable financial institutions, so money transfers are secure.
Deposits are usually performed instantly, and the waiting time on withdrawals rarely takes more than five banking days.
A brief history of CSGO
The first Counter-Strike game was produced in 1999 and gained instant popularity with players from all over the world. The simplicity of the game and its competitive nature prompted Valve to hire its creators, thereby acquiring the intellectual rights and creating an entire franchise.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has become a fixture in esports competitions as the most popular first-person shooter. Bettors can bet on major tournaments as well as minor competitions depending on legislation in each state. The number of betting markets differs accordingly, but overall it is significantly lower than that of traditional sports.
Players can bet on the winners of the tournament, the game and the series, but also the team that prevails at the end of each round. It is possible to wager on the total number of kills, place handicaps bets and indicate the correct score of a series.
The competitive CS:GO arena is ever-changing, with top teams alternating at the top of the standings. Astralis is the uncontested leader and the team that has dominated the game over the last couple of years. It recorded some of the best results in major tournaments and it is currently the squad to beat.
Natus Vincere is its archrival and currently the most in-form Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team. G2, Fnatic, mousesports, Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses and 100 Thieves are some of the strong challengers.
CS:GO betting FAQ
In the US, each state that has legalized esports betting is responsible for licensing sportsbooks. The seal of approval from the regulatory body can usually be found at the bottom of the website.
You have to be at least 21 years old to sign up for an account at a sportsbook and bet on CSGO. By comparison, in Europe people who are 18 or older can bet on sports and video games. For fantasy games the age can be 18 in some states.
E-wallets have gained a lot of traction with sportsbooks, and PayPal is one of the most important of them. It is accepted by many legal US sportsbooks and also at fantasy esports platforms such as DraftKings and FanDuel.
Since the first installment in the series was released, millions of people have played the game. Tens of thousands play CS:GO, and a significant percentage of them also bet on the first-person shooter.
Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev is widely regarded as the best Counter-Strike player in the world. He is definitely the strongest in terms of mechanics and the main reason behind Na’Vi’s success.