Is esports betting legal and safe?
Esports betting might have been a niche activity a few years ago but not today.
Betting on esports in 2020 was brought into the supervised light of gambling regulators and thus esports betting is as safe as wagering on american football, hockey or basketball.
Who ensures esports betting is safe?
As with any other form of online gambling, there is no international body that regulates esports betting as a whole.
As with traditional sports betting and online casinos, this usually falls under the control of national organizations such as the UK Gambling Commission.
The UK is therefore considered a “regulated market”.
The good news? More and more countries are regulating the betting industry within their own borders.
What does this mean for you?
Safer online bookmakers, guaranteed support, transparent transactions.
What happens if you’re in an unregulated market?
If you’re not currently living in the UK, Sweden, US, Spain or Italy chances are, the betting websites available to you operate under an international gambling license.
There are several of them around the world. Some more reputable than others.
What is a gambling jurisdiction?
A gambling jurisdiction is a country where the local government passed specific laws that make it legal for companies based there to provide online betting services.
Such examples are:
- Antigua & Barbuda
- Isle of Man
- Costa Rica
Companies based in one of these countries can obtain a gambling license if they meet (and keep) certain requirements.
Are all gambling licenses equal?
Not at all. European licenses such as the ones from Malta and Isle of Man are generally regarded as the most respected.
On the other end of the spectrum are licenses such as the ones from Curacao or Panama.
The regulators in such regions don’t tend to be as strict with their licensees as their European counterparts.
In Europe, gaming authorities in the countries mentioned above ensure that betting companies adhere to very strict requirements concerning:
- Suitability of owners
- Accounting procedures
- Fairness of games and odds
- Dealing with problem gamblers
- Prohibiting underage gambling
- Handling customer complaints
This set of rules will ensure the companies are engaged in ethical practices, protect their customers and have transparent terms and conditions.
Is it therefore, our advice to always check under which license your preferred betting site operates.
Educate yourself on how gambling authorities operate and make esports betting safer:
The risks of playing with an unlicensed esports betting site
The drawbacks of playing with unregulated bookmakers are huge.
- Your funds and winnings are at risk – unlicensed bookies don’t answer to anyone when it comes to how they handle your money so what would they answer to you?
- Lack of transparency on how they use your personal information – your card details, address, phone number and so on will always be at risk.
- Lack of fairness of odds and games
- Ambiguous terms and conditions, unclear bonus terms – you really need to read the fine print when dealing with an unlicensed operator. You might not be able to withdraw your winnings due to some unclear technicalities.
- Risk of being part of a money laundering operation – there’s a long history of online casinos being used as a front for illegal activities.
The top esports games you can bet on
The game that brought us where we are today, or at least helped speed up things a bit, CSGO is the most popular esport betting title to bet on thanks to an established base of players, teams and events.
As a very strategic FPS, Counter-Strike uses factors such as economy, teamwork and communication to create a highly entertaining show.
This means players need to master an asymmetrical gameplay as each side (the Terrorist and the Counter-Terrorist) have access to different weapons, win conditions, and strategies.
With an ever-growing calendar of events – most of them supported by Valve – that can offer up to $1M in prize pools, there’s no surprise, most esports organizations feature a CSGO roster.
The biggest of them – and thus the ones you should keep in mind when betting on CSGO – include Fnatic, NAVI, Astralis, Cloud9 or Team Liquid.
The history of Dota 2 as an esport began with a two-years long beta phase.
Not very exciting, but the title put that time to very good use as the game is seen as one of the best balanced esports out there.
Dota 2 is a very strategic MOBA with hundreds of heroes to master each with their own specific role.
Beside heroes, professional gamers need to know how to manage gold, items, abilities, specific map regions and timings.
And that’s during gameplay. In Dota 2 matches can be lost before the game has actually started.
In professional competitions, Dota 2 is played using the Captain Mode – a draft feature that allows one player on each team to pick and ban heroes before the match starts.
Some of the best Dota 2 teams today include Virtus.pro, Vici, Evil Geniuses and OG.
The other MOBA in the holy-trinity of esports is League of Legends.
Riot Game’s title was launched in 2009, inspired by the original Defense of the Ancients and in the 11 years that passed, it became a worldwide phenomenon.
Its 2019 World Championship Finals was estimated to have a total audience of 21.8 million viewers.
What League of Legends did for esports betting was to create an almost ideal competitive ecosystem similar to that of traditional sports.
Professional LOL is played in a dozen franchised leagues around the world with Spring and Summer / Winter splits, weekly matches and even clearly defined salaries for players.
That standardization meant League of Legends became an almost constant presence on all sportsbooks, regardless of their region.
Valorant is Riot Games’ newest title and, as a title built for esports, a serious contender for CSGO in the strategic FPS domain.
The title was launched (with moderate success) in June 2020 but nevertheless, became one of the top games on Twitch, below CSGO but above Dota 2, Minecraft or FIFA 20.
Valorant aimes to be a strategic shooter, utilizing concepts taken from various titles such as Overwatch, CSGO and even Rainbow 6
Valorant uses a hybrid gameplay that utilizes teamplay, good timings and hero abilities.
If Riot’s recipe will prove to be a success or not, currently it’s too soon to tell.
FIFA, together with F1 and NBA2k, is one of the main sports-sims that managed to achieve a breakthrough in professional esports.
With a competitive calendar revolving around FIFA eWorld Cup and its associated event, betting on FIFA is not as common, but for traditional bettors, it brings a certain amount of familiarity.
As in football betting, you can wager on the Match Winner, Final Score, number of goals etc.
Where can I bet on Esports?
All reputable betting companies have included at least a few big esports titles in their listings.
It’s commonplace now to find the top CSGO, League of Legends or Dota 2 tournaments or leagues available to bet on.
If you’re looking for more niche games or mobile titles such as King of Glory, Street Fighter or Arena of Valor then you’re best choice would be an esports focused betting site.
Operators such as Rivalry, LOOT.BET, Unkirn focus heavily on covering an extensive number of events and games.
Here’s a quick overview of some of them:
As one of the first esport betting sites, Unikrn attracted a lot of attention in its early days thanks to an innovative concept that combines betting, esports and cryptocurrencies.
Unikrn went as far as to develop their own crypto – Unikoin Gold (UKG) – that allowed players to shop or bet on the Unikrn platform.
In 2019, Unikrn was named EGR’s Esports Bookmaker of the year, offering 24/7 gaming and esports betting for hundreds of esports matches.
Unikrn UMode, is a regulator-approved skill betting mode where you can bet on your own games in competitive esport titles.
Do you have any other recommended bookmakers?
Sure. When it comes to esports betting its safe to say that some betting sites are better than others when it comes to betting on CSGO, DOTA or League of Legends.
Here’s a few guides to help you started:
Betting on the biggest esports tournaments
If Superbowl or the Champions League will have a corresponding event in the esports scene it would probably be one of the events below.
With audiences that rival those of the largest sports events, these CSGO, LOL and DOTA 2 tournaments are part of every respectable gambling site out there.
There’s no bigger or more noteworthy event in the professional League of Legends than the yearly LOL World Championship or “Worlds”.
The tournament represents the culmination of the yearly LOL season, gathering all the best League of Legends teams from around the world.
Hosted by Riot Games, “Worlds” is held in various locations on the globe with the 2020 edition being hosted by Shanghai.
Dota 2’s The International
There’s no tournaments in the history of esports that managed to set and break more records than Dota 2’s The International.
Powered by one of the most devoted communities, the TI holds the record for the largest prize pool ever for an esport event – more than $30 million for its 2019 edition.
The 2020 International, was set to take place at the Ericsson Globe arena in Stockholm this August but due to the recent COVID pandemic will no longer take place this summer and may be pushed back until 2021.
ESL’s annual tournaments
ESL One tournaments, The Intel® Extreme Masters, the ESL Pro League are all major esports tournaments organized by ESL.
ESL is the largest esports events company and organizer of numerous online and offline CSGO, DOTA 2, PUBG or Rainbow 6 competitions.
ESL tournaments are a pinnacle of esports entertainment always featuring the best teams in the world and some of the largest prize pools.
There’s hardly a month without an ESL qualifier or tournament so chances are, if you’re searching for an esports event to bet on, you’ll come across an ESL one (pun intended).
Esports Betting Lines
First Kill / First Blood
There’s not a gamer out there not familiar with the term First Kill.
Made popular by team-based esports such as CSGO or Dota 2, the First Blood or First Kill bet is a bet on the team that will score the first kill of the map, game or round.
This type of bet is one of the most exciting but challenging types of bets as it requires in-depth knowledge and a proper assessment of each team to predict if they start matches more aggressively or not.
In esports that use a draft feature such as Dota 2, the team componence can have a major impact on this, as some heroes can be more inclined to achieve this than others.
There’s nothing more easy to understand than a Winner bet.
For new punters, choosing the match winner is something that can be done without an abundance of research or knowledge.
For live betting fans, this type of wager is usually a clear favourite.
Why, would you ask.
Well, compared to the First Kill bet we talked about above which becomes unavailable once the event took place, betting on the Match Winner will remain available for almost the entire duration of the game.
Tournament or League Winner
Presuming your team is playing in one major tournament or esports league such as an ESL One event or one of the LOL leagues, you can bet on it to be proclaimed the tournament winner.
Odds for these types of bets are usually better before the event starts or in its early stages and will tend to fluctuate as the matches progress.
Astralis might be a favourite to win IEM Katowice but that might change if the Danish team gets off to a bad start at the Spodek Arena.
First Map / Round Winner
As most esports are played in rounds or in a Best out of X format, some online betting sites might offer esports wagers on the winner of the first round or map played.
As the First Kill bet, this type of wager is considered a proposition bet – a term that rose in popularity in the USA.
This is a bet placed on the occurrence or non-occurrence of an event during a match but without any impact on the game’s final outcome.
Odd / Even Bets
Another type of proposition bet the odds / even bet deal with any sort of match feature to which you can attribute a number.
In simpler terms odd / even bets allow you to wager on such elements such as the number of rounds played, total champions kills, towers destroyed, number of headshots etc. by trying to guess if they will be an odd or an even number.
A very tricky wager to make and one that should only be attempted by professionals, this sort of bet requires extensive knowledge of each combatant’s history and a hefty dose of luck.
Over / Under Bets
Also called a Totals Bet, the Over / Under is a wager where you will try to guess if a specific occurrence will be over or under a certain threshold.
Most esports betting sites will allow you to bet on the over/under of things such as total number of rounds, total number of kills, total number of dragon kills but it’s not uncommon to find other types of wager available.
It wasn’t long for various esports teams to be divided into clear favourites or underdogs and with that, the Handicap bets followed.
Also known as line betting or points betting, these type of esports bets represent wagering are bets on the outcome of the game – similar to a Winner bet – but with the difference that the two teams are given a “handicap” – either positive or negative – before the game starts.
The “handicap” is a figure such as +1.0 or -1.0 that’s being added (or subtracted) goals from each of the two teams before kick-off.
For example, if Complexity Gaming were favourites to beat Astralis, the bookmaker might give Astralis a 1-0 handicap advantage.
That literally means that Astralis will start the game from 1-0. In a Best Of 5 event, that means Astralis will only have to win 2 other games while CG will have to win 3.
Betting sites offer handicap bets to make betting on underdogs (Astralis in the example above) more attractive.
Check our guide of esports bets recommended to new players!
Esports Bets vs Esports Odds
To be successful in esports betting you need to find the right combination between bets and odds.
Bets represent a type of wager you can place. It can be a bet on a specific team, player or match criteria.
Odds are represented as a number generated by the bookmaker that serves a double purpose:
- Calculate any potential returns if your wager is successful
- Show the likelihood of any potential outcome.
A moneyline bet might be the most straightforward and safe but remember – the bookmakers know this as well so the odds for it will not always be the most profitable ones.
Any esports betting guides that can help a newbie?
Of course, You can always check our Guides section for our expert-written guides, but here’s a few to help you get started: