Put broadly, Esports casino betting is a term used to describe gambling on the results of competitive video games. Esports are blowing up, and top players are bona fide celebs boasting fans, groupies, and pulling in rock star wages. Gamers come together from all around the world in massive tournaments with huge prize purses up for grabs.
As well as the thousands of competitors, millions of fans tune in online, or attend live events, and are just as dedicated as supporters of traditional sports. Streaming has opened up the sport to anyone interested in the dozens of video games featured, and for keen punters, the industry has blossomed with a whole new world of gambling opportunities.
Is Esports betting legal?
In most cases, there is no difference betting on Esports as there is betting on any other sport. The governments of certain EU countries such as the UK, Germany, and Sweden have made it clear they have no problem with Esports betting. Others such as France, are still arguing the point, but betting is still legal there.
The bottom line is that the Esports betting platforms must hold a gaming license for the markets and countries they provide bets in. Of course, it pays to check the legal situation in your own country if you have any concerns. But, if you can bet on football (for example), then you will probably be fine betting on Esports as well.
Top Esports casino betting platforms
The rise of Esports betting has gone hand in hand with the rise of the sport itself and is hugely popular. Pundits have estimated that the value of Esports betting will hit nearly $13 billion in 2020, making it the fastest-growing sector in the sports betting market. To take advantage of the situation and get involved, we recommend starting at Unibet Casino or have a look at our best casino bonus section.
The history of Esports betting
Technically, the first Esports event took place back in 1972 at Stamford University in California. Contestants battled it out on a video game called Spaceway with the winner walking off with a pretty sweet 12-month subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. When you look at old photos of the time, one of the first things to stick out is those giant square block television sets, like they were built on Minecraft.
Things got real in 1980 when 10,000 gamers gathered for The Space Invader Championship held by Atari and won by Rebecca Heinemann. The size and popularity of the championship surprised many people, and really put video games on the map. If you’ve never seen an early version of Space Invaders do yourself and favour and don’t look it up. Its garish four colours can seriously burn the retinas of those used to million+ colour palettes.
No guesses what the next step in the evolution of Esports was. In the 1990s, the internet shook up gaming like it did everything else human beings do. All of a sudden, players could log in and play against other players all over the world. People were connected like never before, and multiplayer games like Quake drew in hordes of gamers who would never meet in real life. Major organisations like the Cyberathelete Professional League began setting up tournaments with prize purses in excess of $10,000.
That might not sound like much now, but at the time, making money from playing video games was an outrageous concept – and the dream of millions. As well as Quake, the CPL provided online competitions using the insanely popular team game Counter-Strike. If you had entered any internet café around the year 2000, most screens displayed the terrorist vs anti-terrorist action or one of its mods like Day of Defeat.
The next major boost came from Starcraft and its revolutionary real-time strategy gameplay. It went on to spawn the follow-up Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty, which is presently one of the largest Esports games around. Asian players had a huge impact on the industry, particularly South Koreans thanks to their participation in Starcraft and its follow up.
As the millennium wore on, gamers enjoyed the expansion of international tournaments such as the Electronic Sports World Cup, World Cyber Games, and Major League Gaming. The MLG is now the largest organisation of its type in the world, providing millions in prizes for top teams and players.
Another driver of Esports’ popularity was the rise in online streaming. Thanks to services like Twitch, YouTube, and the now-defunct Own3d, fans anywhere could watch the action unfold in real-time. This opportunity was quick to be monetised, and what makes streaming advertising such a tantalising prospect is that viewers spend hours at a time streaming, on average.
Nowadays, Esports is a huge and growing industry. Figures show that revenue from Esports in 2019 cracked $1 billion and is set to increase by around 79% in 2022. The largest market at the moment is Asia, with the US a close second, and Europe not far behind. This figure is comprised mainly of advertising, sponsorship, prize pools, merchandise, and comps. When you consider the money pouring in from betting, the result is an exciting growth industry.
Esports betting markets
For a while Esports gambling was viewed by online sportsbooks the way bitcoin used to be. It was too weird, too unknown, and too niche. It didn’t take long for providers to quickly spot Esports’ popularity though, not to mention the fierce loyalty of fans, and their desire to share in the thrills.
One way to do so is by placing bets, which opened the Esports betting floodgates. Despite the staggering number of video games on the market, the scope of competitive Esports is much narrower. The most common titles you will come across are:
- League of Legends – two teams of five players in a fantasy world that is part strategy, part roleplay. The aim is to take down the opposing team’s base and as many members as possible. The most common betting with LoL is match betting.
- Counter Strike: Global Offensive – hyper-intense gaming from Valve that pits a group of terrorists against a counter-terrorist team to kill each other or complete objectives like free hostages. Outright betting on match outcomes is popular here, along with first kills, first maps, and nationality of teams.
- Starcraft 2 – Blizzard’s classic, real-time sci-fi strategy game. Along with outright winners, common bets include who will make it to semis, and quarterfinals, or what the nationality of the champ will be.
- Dota 2 – two teams of 5 players compete on a map to take out the opponent’s base from developer Valve.
- Hearthstone – Blizzard’s online collectable card game where players fill their decks by accomplishing missions and destroying their opponent’s health. Outright winner bets can be placed with Hearthstone, and because so many people compete, odds can be rather high. Individual matches can be bet on, as well as picking how far a contestant will progress in a tournament.
- Heroes of the Storm – yet another Blizzard title that brings together a mix of Diablo, Starcraft, Overwatch, and Warcraft in a massive multiplayer online battle.
- Fortnite – took over the world in 2017 with three styles of play – cooperative shooter, Battle Royale, and Creative. Shaping up to be the biggest Esports game on the block.
- Call of Duty – Activision and Infinity Ward’s WW2 first-person shooter that involves huge multiplayer battles. Match bets are common here, as are picking the overall tournament winner.
- PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds – based on a Japanese movie called Battle Royale, PUBG is a free for all with up to 100 players at once. Players can team up, but the winner is the last man or woman standing.
- Overwatch – a six on six shoot out from Blizzard where players choose a hero with four different abilities to take down the enemy such as Damage, Defence, Tank, and Support.
Another excellent piece of news for eSports betters and fans is that the calendar is chock full of tournaments. This means plenty of juicy ongoing events to dip into and have a punt. The list here is not exhaustive but focuses on the most important competitions for European gamers.
On top of this are plenty more international and regional events that can be offered at various Esports Betting platforms: Fortnite World Cup (over $100 million in prize money in 2019), The International, League of Legends WC, IEM Katowice, Call of Duty World League, DOTA 2 Asia Championships, Fortnite Secret Skirmish, HALO World Championship, PUBG Globals, and The Overwatch League.
How to bet on Esports
Now you know more about this illustrious sport, it’s time to get in on the action. The good news is that placing a wager with an Esports betting site couldn’t be easier. In fact, it is the same as betting on, say, football or ice hockey.
You will need to register first, and once done head to the appropriate section at your Esports casino betting provider (we suggest some top options above). If you are new to the site, then the provider will most likely hit you up with a bonus or two to get you going.
Always read the small print of every offer to make sure you comply by the terms so as not to miss out on any freebies. Providers offer different markets, though most will cover the major events and tournaments that take place throughout the year.
When you have found the event you are interested in, pick a betting option and place a bet – simple as that. Below are some of the most common options you will come across when Esports betting.
This is probably the most straight forward bet you can make and a great one to start with. Match bets are the bread and butter of Esports betting, and if a provider offers Esports, they will offer them. Gamblers predict before time who will win a match, but don’t be fooled by the simplicity. Match betting takes as much, if not more, planning than a big football match.
If you like playing the long game then tournament winner bets could be the one for you. They can be made well in advance of the event taking place and are a great way to support your favourite player or team. If you are ready to put in some research time, these bets can be some of the most satisfying to pull off.
First map bets are all about which player or team will win the first map. Bets along these lines are popular in games like Counter-Strike and other first-person shooters. These bets are great if a team is on a hot winning streak, particularly an underdog, or have a knack for taking out the first map.
Some providers offer an even more granular level by letting gamblers bet on who will get the first blood, or first kill in a match up. Researching who the entry fraggers on each team can help whittle down best bets and compare odds.
Odd or even bets
Like mainstream football betting, some providers will let you bet whether certain stats will be even or odd. Lines here could be the number of kills, rounds, games, or maps won. Obviously, this one relies almost entirely on luck rather than research.
Under or over
Also popular in sports like football, under/over bets can also be found in the Esports betting world. Here, an Esports bookmaker offers odds of whether results end up above or below a set number. An example could be whether kill totals will be greater or lesser than 30.5, for example.
Wrap up & a look to the future of Esports
The rise of Esports casino betting has been meteoric, and there is nothing inherent in the industry to suggest a slow down any time soon. Incredibly, Esports are on target to eclipse traditional competitive sports like Formula 1 in 2023, and players are already receiving Premier League Football level compensation. For example, Fortnite’s prize pot breached $100 million in one year, with a million given away each week just in online qualifiers.
At an individual level, you’ve got gamers like Denmark’s Johan Sundstien picking up multi-million euro paycheques from a single tournament. With the exponential growth of betting revenues, we are looking at what could easily become the biggest sport in the world one day. Add all of that up, and there has never been a better time to get involved in Esports betting.