eSports is short for electronic sports and is also known as e-sports and esports, which are mostly video game competitions and what amounts to professional gaming. While playing video games with your buddies and even adding in a friendly wager has been commonplace for decades – eSports has taken video gaming to heights that previously many thought were not possible.
The popularity of eSports has carried over into online betting sites. Betting on esports in many ways is growing faster than the sport itself. That’s not to say audiences, in general, aren’t growing at an exponential rate. A market intelligence company, Newzoo, concluded in its “Global Esports Market Report 2017” that the sport will increase from 323 million viewers in 2016 to a whopping 589 million in 2020.
Esports betting is one of the fastest growing betting markets worldwide. There’s a long list of games that have professional esports competitions that are available for real money betting. Today, the most popular games in eSports are League of Legends (LoL), Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Best eSports Betting Sites 2018
Betting on eSports Games & Tournaments
The expansion of eSports has been amazing to watch. Professional gaming leagues started way back in the year 2000, but eSports began to capture the public’s attention in 2013. Since then, the growth of the global audience has amounted to more substantial prize pools and plenty of betting interest from sports bettors.
Betting markets on the most popular games have expanded from just a few wagers to a long list of propositions at some sportsbooks. Not only are the prominent games like LoL, CS: GO, and Dota 2 available for betting, but there are dozens of other games and events that are now finding their way onto eSports betting sites.
eSports Betting – League of Legends
League of Legends (LoL) is currently the world’s most famous eSport. Dota 2 was the multi-player online battle arena (MOBA) that started it all, but LoL has taken the MOBA format into a mainstream explosion. The MOBA game type has an RTS base but with heavy RPG elements. Two teams of five players each (5 vs. 5) will battle it out on a map with the goal of destroying the other team’s “nexus” or base.
League of Legends has gotten so big that now professional sports franchises, such as NBA and NFL teams are buying and investing in eSports LoL teams. The Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Yankees, and Milwaukee Bucks all own or sponsor a League of Legends eSports team. Regarding eSports betting handle, LoL makes up the majority of ticket when it comes to eSports markets.
With millions of dollars being used to sponsor teams and players, it is no surprise that League of Legends betting has become popular.
Top League of Legends Tournaments to Bet On
League of Legends has tournaments all over the world. The League of Legends World Championship is the event that players from all regions fight to qualify for through a series of other competitions and point system. The season begins in January or December of each year and culminates with “Worlds” in late October-November.
The 2017 World Championship has a prize pool of over $4.1 million. These days, every major tournament and for the most part, even minor live events are available for real money eSports betting.
|Tournament Name||Region||# of Teams||Last Year’s Prize Pool||Tournament Start Date|
|LoL Champion Series (NA LCS)||North America||10||$200k||October|
|LoL Champion Series (LCS)||Europe||10||$200k||September|
|LoL Champions Korea (LCK)||South Korea||10||$200k||August|
|LoL Pro League (LPL)||China||12||$500k||August|
|LoL Master Series (LMS)||Taipei||8||$100k||July|
|Garena Premier League (GPL)||Southeast Asia||16||Qualifier||December|
|Brazil LoL (CBLoL)||Brazil||8||Qualifier||December|
|Latin America Cup North (LLN)||Latin America North||8||Qualifier||August|
|Latin America Cup South (CLS)||Latin American South||6||$40k||July|
|Lol Japanese League (LJL)||Japan||6||$3k||August|
|Turkey Champions League (TCL)||Turkey||8||Qualifier||August|
|League of Legends Continental (LCL)||CIS||8||$65k||September|
|Oceanic Pro League (OPL)||Oceania||8||Qualifier||June|
|World Championship||International||16||$4.2 million||Oct-Nov|
|Mid-Season Invitational||International||13||$1.95 million||Apr-May|
Betting on DOTA 2
DOTA 2 was released before LoL and is considered by many to be the more complicated and strategic game compared to League of Legends. DOTA 2 is not as popular as League of Legends but has similar prize pools and tournaments culminating in the International in August, which has the largest prize pool in eSports.
Much like League of Legends, there is a host of other tournaments where players earn additional prize money and player points for qualifying. LoL, and DOTA 2 are both MOBAs, so you find related betting markets when betting on DOTA 2 as you would with betting LoL.
Betting on DOTA 2 Tournaments
DOTA 2 has many larger tournaments and smaller events for professional players of all skill levels. The most prominent tournament in eSports is the International, and it easily garners the most eSports betting action on DOTA 2. The 2017 International had a massive $24.7 million-dollar prize pool – by far the biggest in eSports history. Those interested in betting on eSports and betting on DOTA 2 will undoubtedly have action on the International each year.
|Tournament Name||# of Teams||Last Year’s Prize Pool||Tournament Start Date|
|Boston Major||16||$3 million||December|
|Kiev Major||16||$3 million||April|
|The International||10||$24.7 million||August|
|World Cyber Arena||10||$550k||December|
|SL i-League StarSeries||8||$300k||February|
|Mars DOTA 2 League||8||$250k||July|
|ESL One Genting||8||$250k||January|
|MarsTV Dota 2 League Autumn||8||$250k||October|
|ZOTAC Cup Masters||8||$100k||May|
|SL i-League Invitational||8||$100k||May|
|NA BEAT Invitational||8||$100k||November|
|The Final Match||8||$50k||July|
|Mr. Cat Invitational Europe||10||$50k||May|
|MPGL Southeast Asian Championship||10||$50k||September|
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is currently the third most popular eSport when it comes to eSports betting and popularity worldwide. Unlike DOTA 2 and League of Legends, CS:GO is a first-person shooter, rather than a multiplayer online battle arena. Betting on CS:GO won’t match the numbers of the top two eSports, but just like most games involved in the industry, it has grown considerably in recent years.
CS:GO betting is available at just about every online sportsbook that offers eSports. However, there is another form of gambling that surrounds Counter-Strike, known as “skin gambling.” Skin gambling is the use of virtual goods, which in CS: GO’s case, are primarily cosmetic elements, as a form of virtual currency to gamble on matches.
The Steam marketplace is third-party compatible, which allows players to buy, sell, or trade different skins in the game. Valve, the developer of Steam and CS:GO condemns the gambling practices and has stated that the activity violates Steam’s Terms of Service.
Despite Valve’s statements and condemnation of skin betting and legal pressure in some countries – skin betting is still widely practiced among CS:GO players. Some skin gambling websites have moved to crypto-currencies, such as Bitcoin. “Skincoin” was launched June 2017 is backed by established crypto-currency, Ethereum.
Top CS:GO Tournaments to Bet On
Competitive CS:GO matches pit two teams of five players against each other for a 30-round match. Round times are 1 minute and 55 seconds and the bomb time is 40 seconds. After the first 15 rounds, teams switch sides. The first team to score 16 points wins the round. However, unlike DOTA 2 and LoL, there can be ties in CS:GO. If both teams have 15 points by the end of the 30th round, the match is declared a draw.
There are a number of professional eSport CS:GO leagues. Most follow similar formats to DOTA 2 and LoL that involve several regions, points, and qualifications to major tournaments. Betting on live events and majors is available at sportsbooks that offer eSports betting with most premier tournaments coming in the winter months.
|Tournament Name||# of Teams||Last Year’s Prize Pool||Tournament Start Date|
|World Electronic Sports Games||32||$1.5 million||March|
|WESG Finals||23||$1.5 million||January|
|ELEAGUE Major||16||$1 million||January|
|ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier||16||$1 million||October|
|PGL Major||16||$1 million||July|
|ESL Pro League Finals||12||$750k||May and December|
|Esports Championship Series||8||$660k||June and December|
|DreamHack Masters||16||$450k||February and September|
|Intel Extreme Masters||12||$300k||March and November|
|Starladder i-League Star Series||16||$300k||April|
|ESL One||16||$250k||July and September|
|ESL Pro League – NA||14||$125k||May and November|
|ESL Pro League – Europe||14||$125k||May and November|
Other eSports Games You Can Bet On
eSports betting isn’t just regulated to the above three sports. They’re the most popular, but there is quite a long list of eSports available for real money betting, and that list is expanding every year. Betting markets aren’t as vast as they are with the major titles, but even the lesser-known eSports will typically be there for betting at online sportsbooks.
- StarCraft 2
- Rocket League
Real Money eSports Betting Sites
There are a ton of online sportsbooks and eSports betting sites that offer real money eSports betting. It’s rare you will find online tournaments available for betting, but most live events and all the majors for the top eSports games will be well represented at the best eSports betting sites.
Best USA eSports Betting Sites
SportsBetting.ag – Plenty of eSports Betting Markets
SportsBetting.ag is one of the best options for betting eSports for Americans. They have 30+ markets available for games like DOTA 2 and LoL. Their betting limits are larger than most other sites for eSports and have a dedicated section separate from their regular sportsbook for eSports.
Our SportsBetting review has more details.
- One of the fastest paying and largest sportsbooks online.
- Large Sign-Up Bonus and Reload Bonuses.
- Excellent for recreational and professional bettors.
Bovada Sportsbook – Hundreds of eSports Bets & Lines
Bovada is one of our top-rated eSports betting websites and one of our best sportsbooks overall. As far as trust factor and assurances that you will be paid – they’re number one. Bovada’s eSports markets center around LoL, CS:GO, DOTA 2, and StarCraft. They also have an “Other E-Sports” section on their betting menu for the less popular games.
Read our Bovada review for more information on this site.
Best UK eSports Betting Sites
BetWay – Plenty of eSports Bets
BetWay heavily promotes eSports betting. There is a button prominently located on their homepage, and they offer many eSports specials and price boosts. It’s easy to tell that BetWay is taking charge with eSports betting and is looking to capitalize on this emerging market.
Learn more in our Betway review.
Popular eSports Bets You Can Place
Those who have bet other sports for quite a while will be right at home with eSports. Once you understand the rules of each game, betting on eSports will be as easy as wagering on NFL point spreads. Most eSports have sides and total betting and a host of other options, including a wide variety of team and player propositions, along with live betting or in-play wagering.
Betting Sides and Outrights
Wagering on a team in eSports is no different than betting an MLB team or NHL team on the moneyline. The most popular eSports, such as DOTA 2 and League of Legends, draws are not possible. The outright market is the most popular bet in eSports. Outrights are merely for each team to win the match outright, with no point spread. At sites that accept mostly Americans, these will be expressed in moneyline odds. At UK online bookmakers, the markets will be listed in fractional odds.
Point Spreads and Handicaps
eSports matches may also have a point spread and/or handicap market available. If you’re familiar with runlines or pucklines, when betting baseball and hockey, respectively – these should make perfect sense.
The favorite in eSports is usually favored by -1.5 games and the underdog is getting +1.5 games. This can be a cheaper way to bet on the favorite (as the odds will be lower), but remember they must win by two games. You may have to lay some vig on the underdog at +1.5 games and not get the plus money, but it’s an excellent bet to make if you think the match will be close.
eSports Future Bets
Future bets on eSports are similar to outrights, except they are placed in advance of the tournament start date. That could be months, weeks, or day before the tournament starts or during the tournament’s in the early stages. Bettors are wagering on the team they think will win the tournament or competition.
Betting on Maps
Many eSports games are map-based, with some changing maps and others using the same map throughout the matchup, like DOTA 2 and LoL. The market is map betting, but it’s essentially round betting. If you feel one team has an advantage over their position on a round or map, then this is a market worth considering and may be one of the best eSports bets that others are not thinking about.
eSports Live Betting
In most cases, if an eSports betting site has pre-match betting markets on eSports – they will also have live betting or in-play markets. For the most part, these betting options won’t be much different than the pre-match offerings. Mostly just adjusted sides and map or round betting.
Although, some sites may offer props before or during different games. If you’re interested in lots of live market at when eSports betting, check out the sportsbook beforehand to see what markets they offer.
Now, this is where things start to get fun. The team at SBS was shocked to see the number of propositions available for each eSports match. The best eSports betting sites offer dozens of props on some of the top games. We’ve seen DOTA 2, and LoL matches with up to 40 proposition wagers per match.
In League of Legends, these range from “First Blood” wagers, which you can bet on which team deals the first kill. The total amount of time each map takes to play. The total kills on the map and whether that number is odd or even. There are also props on which team which team will kill the first dragon, Baron Nashor, and tower and the amount of time it takes to play each round or map. Since DOTA 2 is another MOBA, propositions for the game will be similar to LoL.
Shooters like CS:GO and less popular eSports games will have fewer props available, but they still have a decent stable of props at most betting sites that offer eSports betting. Popular prop bets surrounding CS:GO are the total number of rounds, winners of rounds one and 16, and will the number of rounds played end in an odd or even number.
eSports Betting Tips and Predictions
Diving into betting eSports without much knowledge of the teams, leagues, and games is a recipe for disaster if you want to become a profitable eSports bettor. Just like other sports, such as football and basketball, there will be a lot of prognosticators handing out eSports betting tips and predictions. In many cases, these so-called “experts” may not even mention the betting odds when offering up their forecasts – which we know are the most accurate way to analyze a matchup.
Rely on Your Research
Ultimately, just like any other form of sports betting, it comes down to your research and understanding of betting markets. Trying to bet every eSport under the sun isn’t the best way to go about attacking eSports. Focusing on one game, at least at first, is usually the best route for most people. Many decide to bet on the game(s) they already know how to play but dive deeper into the strategy of high-level players and competition.
Teams, Players, and Positions
Once you’ve decided on the eSports you want to focus on betting – you can dive into the rosters and teams. Having a deep understanding of each member’s role on a team and how they match up against opponents will give you an advantage over others who are betting eSports.
Information is power, the more you understand the rosters and teams – the better position you’re in to analyze data quickly and make bets before the market reacts. This is harder to do in larger market sports, but beating the sportsbooks to the punch on a substitution or change in strategy that the larger market is unaware of or hasn’t factored in yet is a real possibility in eSports.
Line Shopping is a Must
There are no winning sports bettors who uses just one sportsbook to bet. The same goes for those betting eSports. In fact, it’s even more vital in eSports due to the different prices available at multiple books. There are advantages to be had when betting broader markets, but for the most part, sportsbooks move in unison on significant line moves and critical numbers.
This is not the case when betting eSports. Betting limits are much lower than large market sports, but there is a much wider variety of pricing. With Bitcoin being available at most online sportsbooks, moving money around and find the right price is easier than ever. Bettors will be able to see plenty of inefficiencies in eSports betting when comparing sharper sportsbooks to more recreational betting sites.
Making Deposits at eSports Betting Websites
Cashier options at sportsbooks that have eSports betting typically won’t be much different than traditional offerings at online betting sites. Credit cards, debit cards, e-wallets, such as Neteller and PayPal and crypto-currencies, like Bitcoin and others will be available as deposit and payout choices.
Using Bitcoin to Bet on eSports
Bitcoin is the best option for betting eSports and for all other sports gambling online. Payout times can be as fast as 15 minutes at some sportsbooks, and the ability to move funds around with little or no fees is extremely valuable. Bitcoin is far and away the best option for betting eSports online.
eSports Betting and PayPal
PayPal is the world’s most popular payment processor and is usually available at online bookmakers that are licensed in the United Kingdom and Ireland. There’s no safer option for sending and receiving online payments than PayPal. Best of all, bettors won’t have to foot the fees for depositing or cashing out, as most online bookmakers cover them.
Learn More About eSports Betting
We dove into the basics and then some of betting eSports, but there is a lot more to learn. Check out our FAQ below for some basic and advanced questions regarding eSports online betting markets.
Is eSports betting legal?
Laws can vary depending on your jurisdiction, but for the most part, bettors will have no legal issues if they bet eSports or gamble online in any form in most countries. U.S. Federal law does not criminalize the act of placing bets online. Even in areas where online gambling is outlawed (which is rare), these laws are almost never enforced.
What is the best eSports betting site?
We recommend BetOnline.ag and SportsBetting.ag (sister sportsbooks) for Americans and Bet365 and BetWay for those in the United Kingdom or playing internationally. They all have large betting limits for eSports and more betting markets than other sites when it comes to eSports betting.
What eSports games can I bet on?
League of Legends, DOTA 2, and Counterstrike: Global Offensive are the most popular eSports and will have the most betting markets, but there is a long and rapidly expanding list of other games. Heroes of the Storm, StarCraft, StarCraft 2, Hearthstone, Call of Duty, are some of most popular, but there are many more.
Is it possible to make a profit betting eSports?
Certainly. Just like any other form of sports betting, it starts with understanding the games, teams, and players. From there, proper line shopping and bankroll strategy can set you up to be a profitable eSports bettor.
Do I need a credit card, debit card or bank account to deposit at an eSports betting site?
No, in fact, we recommend Bitcoin as the best deposit option, especially for Americans. However, you may need a credit or debit card and a bank account to purchase Bitcoin easily. Though, there are ways to purchase it using cash.
How difficult is it to become a professional eSports player?
Very. Even the top 1% of players at the top games, such as League of Legends and DOTA 2 are not professional players. It takes extreme time and dedication to reach the top of eSports.
Do you have expert advice for eSports betting?
We offer free picks here at Safest Betting Sites for several sports, including eSports.
Where can I watch eSports live?
eSports is mostly broadcasted at Twitch.tv. Twitch is always broadcasting eSports and not every match is a major tournament. However, all major tournaments for the top games, such as LoL, DOTA 2, and CS:GO will stream live at Twitch.tv.
Can you bet eSports on your mobile device?
Yes, if the sportsbook offers a mobile app or website and has odds on eSports – they will be available to bet via mobile.
What game types does eSports include?
MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) are the most popular eSports games, both when it comes to playing and betting handle. These include games like League of Legends and DOTA 2. FPSs (First person shooters) are also extremely popular. CS:GO is the top FPS regarding popularity, by far. RTS (real time strategy) games like StarCraft and Warcraft III. Fighting games like Mortal Kombat and sports games, such as NBA and FIFA are still available for betting at some sites, but noticeably less popular than MOBA, RTS, and FPS game types.
Do I need to need to be an expert to bet on eSports?
As mentioned above, knowledge does help, but you don’t need to be an expert to place a wager. Indeed, most people that bet the NFL aren’t experts. However, it won’t hurt to have added knowledge of the teams and players for the eSports you’re betting.
What should I look for when betting eSports?
Consider the current form of the team and how they match up against their opponents. Have they changed players on their roster recently? What do you think their chances of winning are compared to the sportsbook’s odds? Always be sure to line shop at multiple sportsbooks before placing a bet.
Are there bonuses at eSports betting sites?
Yes, most online betting sites will offer a first-deposit bonus, which can be used to bet on eSports. Bonuses come with varying degrees of rollover, which means the amount you must wager before you can withdraw your deposit and bonus amount. Offers differ wildly between sportsbooks when it comes to bonuses. Some sites offer other promotions, such as reload bonuses and VIP programs, in addition to first-deposit bonuses.
What is in-play or live betting?
Live betting or in-play betting refers to betting markets that are available as the match is being played. Live betting is available for most eSports that have pre-match markets. The odds will update live as play is happening.
How often are eSports tournaments?
They happen all year round. The League of Legends World Championship begins in October and ends in November and is one of the most significant events in eSports. DOTA 2 has the International which starts in August. The tournament has the biggest prize pool in eSports, totaling almost $25 million.