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 shooter (FPS) Esports games are competitive video games that are played from the perspective of the player's character. The primary focus of these games is shooting and they often involve navigating through different environments and levels while combating enemies. Some of the most popular FPS Esports games include Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), Call of Duty, Overwatch, and Rainbow Six Siege and PubG.
- MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games are a type of team-based Esports with the most popular being titles like Dota 2, League of Legends. , and Heroes of the Storm. In the Esports scene, MOBA games are some of the most popular and have the largest prize pools. Tournaments are held globally, with millions of dollars in prize money and are watched by millions of fans online and in-person.
- Sports simulation Esports games are games that simulate real-world sports and aim to provide as realistic an experience as possible. Some of these games allow players to control an entire team, while others focus on individual players. The games can be based on a wide range of sports, including football (FIFA), basketball (NBA 2K), baseball (MLB The Show), hockey (NHL), soccer (Pro Evolution Soccer), and motorsports (F1, iRacing).
- First-person fighting Esports games are competitive video games that are played from a first-person perspective. Players see the game through the eyes of their character, which makes the whole experience more immersive and realistic. Examples would be Street Fighter and 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 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.
League of Legends is the largest Esport by most metrics and it sees about 7.5 million players during its peak hours. There are tens of millions of people who play all around the world each month. It has been reported that 44 million people watched one of the recent World Championship Finals which is more people than those who watched the 2022 Grand National (11.8 million) or the EFL Championship Play Off finals (3.2 million).
Top Popular Esports Betting Markets
These are the most popular Esports betting markets available at most Esports betting sites:
Tournament Winner: As it sounds, with this bet type, you are betting on the outcome of the whole tournament. Who will win?
Match Winner: With this bet type, you are betting on who will win the current match. This could be the winner of an individual FIFA match, or the winner of a CS:GO round.
Correct Score: When betting a correct score market, you are betting on the exact score at the end of the game. For example, you might bet that the final score in CS:GO will be two maps to one (2-1).
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.
Other Types of Esports Bets
These Esports bet types are available at the best Esports betting sites:
Handicap: Handicap bets give the favourite team or player a handicap, which in turn provides the bettor with better value odds. Essentially, if you are betting on the favourite to win, in a handicap bet, they will need to win by a greater margin in order for your bet to win.
First Kill/Blood: With this bet type, you are betting on the player to win the first kill in the game. This market type is relevant to shooter games, such as Valorant.
First Maps: With first map markets, you are betting on the player to win the first map of the game. It is usually possible to bet on the winner of each map throughout the game, and this is a popular in play Esports market.
Over/Under: In over/under markets, you might bet on the total number of maps played in League of Legends (or the total number of goals in FIFA) being over or under a certain number.
Types of Esports Betting Offers
There are several different types of Esports betting offers. We discuss the main bonus types, here:
Free Bet: A Free bet is a bet that is provided by the bookmaker, for bettors to use to place a bet instead of using their own money. Often (but not always) customers must make a qualifying wager before the Free bet is credited.
Deposit Bonus: A deposit bonus is a bonus (usually a Free bet) that is paid when a customer deposits a specific amount of money into their betting account. Usually, customers will need to make a qualifying bet with minimum odds and wagering requirements, before the bonus will be paid.
No-Deposit Bonus: As it sounds, a no deposit bonus is a bonus that is automatically paid into a customer’s betting account, without the need for them to place a deposit, or make a qualifying bet.
Top Esports betting sites
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:
QuinnBet offers a platform for Esports betting that covers a wide range of popular games but focuses on the big three: Dota 2, League of Legends, and CS: GO. The website is user-friendly and easy to navigate, making it simple for both beginners and experienced bettors to place their bets. The odds offered are competitive for Esports and provide relatively good value for money (but still the odds have a much higher margin than, for example, football). QuinnBet's customer service is top-notch, with a responsive team ready to assist with any issues that may arise.
- Extensive Betting Options
- Competitive Odd
- Excellent Customer Service
888sport offers a comprehensive betting site and amongst the many sports they provide odds for Esports is one of them. The site is user-friendly and hey provide a wide range of Esports games including with odds offered that are competitive. They also provide live betting options which not all bookmakers do. The customer service is commendable, with multiple channels for communication but they could improve on their promotional offers for Esports, which currently are not as many as for other sports. Overall, 888sport provides a solid platform for Esports betting.
- Wide range of In-Play options
- Great odds
- Lightning fast payouts
Bet365 have a great range of promotions across several different sports as well as a generous welcome offer. The website is clear and easy to navigate with a wide range of in-play betting markets, many of which have live streaming available. A Bet Builder feature and readily available Bet Boosts make for a good betting experience. Pros and Cons of Bet365 include:
- Generous welcome offer.
- Bet Boosts with enhanced odds on selected markets.
- Early Payout if your team goes two goals ahead.
What to look for when choosing a bookmaker for Esports betting
When choosing a bookmaker for Esports betting, there are a number of features that bettors can look out for, in order to determine whether or not the betting site might be worth using. We describe some of the aspects that make a good Esports betting site, here:
- Esports Games - Visit the sports menu of the betting site and look for the Esports tab, then view the range of Esports markets on offer. Is there plenty to choose from? If not, you could find better.
- Flexible Payment Methods - Check the FAQs to see which payment methods are available for use at the Esports betting site that you are considering. Is your preferred payment method available?
- Bonuses and Promos - View the ‘Promotions’ or ‘Offers’ tab/menu to see what promotions are available to you as a new customer. But don’t just be drawn in by a flashy welcome offer; are there promotions available to existing customers, too? This will potentially provide you with better value for money in the long run.
- Mobile Sports Betting App - Does your potential bookmaker have a mobile sports betting app? If you are looking for the convenience of betting on Esports via your smartphone, then it is worth checking that this is something that the betting site offers.
- Live Esports Experience - Peruse the in-play Esports betting markets. Do they have live streaming or regularly updated graphics to help you keep up with the action? Make a judgement as to whether the betting site offers a good live betting experience.
Esports Betting Regulation 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.
Esports Betting Tips & Strategies
We know that you want the best possible chance of success when it comes to betting on Esports. That is why we have put together this list of Esports betting tips and strategies, to help increase those chances. Of course, we cannot guarantee that your bet(s) will win, so remember to gamble responsibly, and never bet more than you can afford to lose.
- Do Your Homework: While of course there is a good dose of luck involved in Esports betting, as with any bet, research can increase your chances of success. Statistics and history can help, but nothing can replace a great working knowledge of the sport, so take time to watch as many Esports competitions as possible before placing your first bet. Understand who is most likely to be successful and at which point of the game, and consider what possible outcomes might be if, for example, a particular player is missing from a competition.
- Lower your liability: The best way to lower your liability when it comes to betting on Esports, is to split your betting budget into a number of small chunks, which you can spread across a number of different bet types. So for example, if betting on CS:GO, instead of betting £10 on one player to win the whole game, put £5 on the game winner, then place a number of smaller bets on over/under, map winner or markets or first kill markets.
- Don’t lose your head: It can be easy to get carried away when betting on Esports as it can be an exciting prospect. That is why it is a good idea to manage your betting budget and set deposit and wagering limits on your betting account. It is also possible to set time limits on your account log in, to avoid you getting sucked in for too long.
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.
Top Esports Events
There are a number of key Esports events throughout the calendar year. In this section, we discuss some of them:
- Dota 2 The International
The International is an annual world championship for Dota 2. Twenty teams from the Dota Pro Circuit compete in a competition produced by the game’s developer, Valve. The competition is held in a different world city each year, having previously been held in Vancouver, Shanghai, Stockholm, Bucharest, Singapore and Seattle. The prize pool is worth millions of dollars.
- League of Legends World Championship
One of the world’s most-watched Esports tournaments, the League of Legends World Championship is held annually, rotating across different major countries each year. Teams compete for the champion title, which comes with the Summoner’s Cup and a multi-million dollar prize.
- Fortnite World Cup - The Fortnite World Cup was held in 2019. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has yet to be another Fornite World Cup competition, since.
- CS:GO Major Championships
The CS;GO Major Championships sees the top 24 teams from across the world compete against each other. 2023 was the last CS:GO Major, as 2024 will bring the first Counter-Strike 2 majors, following the launch of the new upgrade to CS:GO in Summer 2023.
Payment Methods For Funding Your Esports Bets
There are many different payment options available at the best Esports betting sites. We discuss some of them here.
- Debit Cards - When funding your Esports betting account with a debit card, it is very much like making any other online purchase. Simply enter the card details and the amount you wish to deposit, and the transaction will be completed.
- E-wallets - E-wallets such as PayPal, Skrill and Neteller tend to be popular with bettors, because they allow you to keep your personal banking information private. Only your E-wallet credentials are required to make a transaction at Esports betting sites.
- Prepaid cards - Prepaid cards such as paysafecard are becoming increasingly popular at betting sites. Prepaid cards allow bettors to keep their private banking details private and secure, and also allow them to set a budget that they can stick to, as the value of the card cannot be exceeded when depositing at a betting site, and the prepaid card must be purchased using cash at a physical retailer.
Esport Live Betting
The following Esports betting sites allow you to bet on Esports events as they happen:
- Hollywoodbets UK
- William Hill
- Grosvenor Sport
In conclusion, there are an increasing number of betting sites that offer Esports markets, often with live streaming capabilities, with a variety of different promotions and bonuses available. Enjoy betting on Esports, but remember to gamble responsibly.
Top betting sites
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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.
No, not all betting sites offer the same Esports matches, so it is worth shopping around between Esports bookmakers to find one that offers markets on the event that you want to bet on.