Esports Betting: All you need to know!
What are “Esports”?
Esports can be either a team or individual competition where computer games are played competitively, often for cash prizes. They are also spectator sports, especially in Asia, where players are superstars and thousands of people watch some of the bigger tournaments either live at special venues or streamed online. The types of games played are varied and have several genres, players tend to specialize in just one game.
The most popular Esports disciplines are:
- First Person Shooters: CS:GO, Call of Duty, PubG.
- MOBA Games: Dota 2, League of Legends.
- Sports Simulators: FIFA, NBA 2k.
- First Person Fighting: Street Fighter, Tekken.
There are also a number of standalone competitions which attract huge interest, notably the game “Fortnite” which made headline news in 2019 really making Esports mainstream. The global Esports audience will reach 495.0 million this year, made up of 222.9m Esports enthusiasts and a further 272.2m of occasional viewers.
China is the largest market by revenues, with a total of $385.1 million, followed by North America, with total revenues of $252.8 million. The UK Esports betting market is smaller but when all revenue streams are accounted for will soon be over £100m.
There are now dozens of Esports betting sites where it is possible to place a wager, but the quality of that offering varies greatly. The best Esports betting sites have dedicated mini-sites, past form and statistics, great odds and a wide range of markets to bet on. Some have just thrown up a token effort which leaves a lot to be desired and if you are serious about betting on Esports, you would avoid.
How do we form our Esports rating?
Our ratings are one of the best in the business, we have no bias and our opinions are not bought. The legalbet.uk Esports ratings are based purely on our own actual playing experiences, and with 20 years in the industry, we know what we are talking about.
We look for firstly the range of sports covered, do they have just the main events or do they cover the minor leagues as well. We then check the depth of the markets, how many options are there to bet on and what is the functionality of the website like. We consider the aesthetic aspects and also more importantly what extras are included. These can be things such as team statistics, past results and is there live streaming of the games. Last but certainly not least we compare the odds on offer against the industry average.
Best bookmakers in the UK for Esports betting
Here our professional reviewers list their top Esports bookmakers. After a comprehensive analysis and hours of data gathering, combined with our empirical experiences, these are the best of the best:
- Dedicated Mini-Site.
- Massive range of Sports and Leagues covered (24 in total).
- Full tutorials and analysis of each Esport.
- Comprehensive news, results, and statistics are all available.
- Live Streaming of virtually every game.
- Competitive odds and a large range of markets to bet on.
- Live “In Play” betting is available.
- The tightest margins (best odds) available.
- The largest range of markets for each match we have seen.
- All major markets covered and most minor games and leagues as well.
- Massive range of Esports games.
- The largest range of markets per game.
- The highest “In Play” odds available.
- Live streaming of most events.
- Massive bet limits.
What to look for when choosing a bookmaker for Esports betting
When looking for the best betting site for E-sports bets it is important to consider the legalbet.uk E-sports ratings and then consider your own circumstances. Do you enjoy watching E-3
Esports? If so then obviously live streaming is a must. Do you follow the sports and results and have a favourite team to support, because if so maybe you do not need access to all the statistics. Perhaps your only interest in Esports betting is simply knowing a value bet when you see one, you want to profit and nothing else, in which case you should consider nothing except the odds. For those new to Esport betting a few bookmakers run blog posts around the sport and offer Esport betting tips.
Esports regulation in the UK / Is Esports betting legal in the UK?
Today Esports in the UK is completely legal to play and Esports betting is allowed, but not long ago most people would have asked: “What is Esports betting”? For players in April 2017 the UK regulator, the Gambling Commission published a seventeen-page ‘position paper’ on the matter. They clarified that the existing regulatory framework is sufficient relating to the use of virtual currencies and other trade-able in-game items such as ‘skins’. The commission state “Where facilities for gambling are offered using such items, a licence is required in exactly the same manner as would be expected in circumstances where somebody uses or receives casino chips as a method of payment for gambling, which can later be exchanged for cash.” This also means that anyone offering betting markets on E-sports must obtain a UK gambling licence.
For punters not involved in the game itself betting on this is exactly the same as betting on any other sport. You just have to be aware that the governance is not as strong when it comes to match-fixing and/or other forms of corruption, but as the industry matures we are sure this will be addressed.
There are a number of government agencies and much like boxing they all compete and claim to be the most “official” and therefore important but in truth, anyone could claim to be the leading body there is no real backing to make one better than the rest. Just some of the main ones that UK Esports gamblers may hear mentioned are:
The World Esports Association (WESA) which was founded in March 2016 and is a regulator of the majority of the tournaments UK bookmakers will cover. WESA includes a Player Council, elected by the players, that represents, strengthens and advocates on behalf of pro gamers on league policies, rulesets, player transfers and more. They are not to be confused with the World Esports Council that helps promote E-sports to the wider business community and positively promote the sport to the public eye rather than making any rules that govern the industry.
There is also The British Esports Association (BESA) which was founded in December 2016. BESA was established to support, promote and instil good governance for amateur eSports players and teams. They are working to educate the Government's Department of Culture, Media and Sport of the benefits of E-sports and E-sports bets.
Payment methods for Esports bets online
In terms of payment methods to use when you are betting on Esports online it is exactly the same as betting on any other sport. Each bookmaker will allow you to deposit by as many methods as they can but recent restrictions in the UK mean that credit cards and increasingly E-Wallets are not accepted. The reverse side of this is that cryptocurrencies, mainly BitCoin, are beginning to become more and more mainstream and could be what most transactions are made within the near future.
What methods of betting on Esports are there?
There are several different ways that you can bet on Esports events. They are commonly grouped into the following categories:
- Social Betting
- Fantasy Sports Betting
- Traditional Bookmakers
- Betting on “Streamers”
- Item Betting
Social Esports Betting
“Social Esports Betting” is best described as casual bets between people in the same social circles. They may be friends, family, colleagues, or acquaintances. This type of betting may also include head to head bets, where the participants of the game have bet each other.
- A large part of the appeal of social Esports betting is to add “some spice to it”. It gives a competitive edge and reason to win what may be an otherwise bland encounter with no real reward.
- The negatives of this kind of betting are that you never have a guarantee that you’ll be able to find a friend who is willing to take your bet and even if you do, if you keep on winning, you will run out of friends before too long.
Fantasy Esports Betting
This mainly applies to the United States, because their laws and regulations make online gambling a “grey area” in terms of legality. However, one area which is clean is fantasy based wagering thanks to a federal law known as UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act).
Rather than betting on individual matches or events, or variables within a match, players build “line-ups” (their fantasy team) for major events. It is a bit like Fantasy League Football. The fictional line up which performs the best over the tournament (or timeframe specified). Again like Social Esports betting you are wagering against people rather than a bookmaker.
- The reason for this type of bets popularity is that it is legal in the majority of U.S. states.
- A negative is that it does not provide the instant hit of excitement that betting on a match does
Esports: Traditional Bookmakers
The other side of the social betting coin is betting on Esports sports with a traditional, licenced, bookmaker. In exactly the same way that you would place an online bet on a game of football or tennis. Nearly all UK bookmakers offer some form of Esports coverage and the best go to great lengths to provide a quality product with an extensive range of Esports and Esports betting options.
- One of the great things about this kind of betting is that you have confidence you will always be able to place the bet that you want, and that you will also be paid.
- A slight negative to bear in mind is that Esports betting is in its infancy, certainly compared to football for example, so there are still limits to what you can bet on, odds are not always competitive, and you may find your stakes limited quickly if you are a winning punter.
- You can see who are the best Esports betting operators and the best online Bookmakers in the UK HERE.
Betting on Esports Streamers
Another genre of betting on Esports is betting on people who privately stream themselves playing games on sites such as “Twitch”. Recently there has been a growing number of Esports bookmakers cover the games of the more popular streamers. A major positive of Stream betting is that you are not restricted to the schedules of the major tournaments. This means that you are able to not only bet on the big team-based esports such as League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, you should have the freedom to bet on streamers playing games like Fornite and Apex Legends.
Item & skin Esports bets
When people talk about “Item betting” what they mean is the purchase and sale (or win and loss) of additional tools, weapons or features within the games being played. Nobody is sure how large a market this is exactly but there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that it involves tens of thousands of players. For the most part item betting doesn’t involve any money changing hands directly but instead, wagers and the corresponding prizes are conducted entirely online within the games themselves. It is possible to sometimes exchange these items for cash at a third party destination which makes it technically illegal to do in the UK.
- The main advantage of marketplace betting is that it’s a way for you to get value from something which otherwise has no value to you.
- The downside is that there is no regulation and no way to know that the games you’re playing are fair or that you will get your winnings. Also although not being actively prosecuted at the moment you should be aware that it is also illegal to do unless you are a licenced bookmaker.
The reason people do this even though it is illegal is that most players don’t realise that what they are doing is “gambling”. The future of this type of activity is at best uncertain and it is probably not something you want to invest too much time into.
The top betting sites are…
Here at Legalbet we have also categorised the top betting sites and their features to make them easier for you to find. They are:
Frequently Asked Questions
Today Esports in the UK is completely legal to play and esports betting is allowed. In April 2017 the UK regulator, the Gambling Commission published a seventeen-page ‘position paper’ on the matter. They clarified that the existing regulatory framework is sufficient relating to the use of virtual currencies and other trade-able in-game items such as ‘skins’. The commission state “Where facilities for gambling are offered using such items, a licence is required in exactly the same manner as would be expected in circumstances where somebody uses or receives casino chips as a method of payment for gambling, which can later be exchanged for cash.” This also means that anyone offering betting markets on Esports must obtain a UK gambling licence.
You can bet on a large number of different Esports games but there are a few which are more popular than others, with more established league and tournament structures.
The most popular are currently CSGO and League of Legends although previously PUBG was the market leader for some time. There is usually a lot of activity around Fifa and Fortnite when the World finals for those games comes around although there is not so much league structure.
It is considered to be a sport by the majority of people, having all the attributes that any other sports has. There are defined rules, there is a level of competition, you have to increase your skill level to be able to improve and win more. There are fans like any other sport who watch and support their teams and players. Teams have uniforms and are at the top level paid a salary to compete as well as prize money for winning. There is very little reason not to consider it a sport.