Gambling on eSports is growing just as fast – if not even faster – than the eSports industry. What was once an informal system of betting that occurred mainly between acquaintances and friends is quickly turning into an industry in which millions of dollars are risked on a yearly basis by millions of fans joining from basically every corner of the world?
It is obvious that that fast growth will be accompanied by a great deal of uncertainty among the people who are interested in gambling on eSports. Even if you are very familiar with the game that is being played, the world of wagering on that game might still be an entirely new one to you. Moreover, if you are more an enthusiast than a gamer, you may have questions on both the gambling side and the game side.
What Should You Look for in an eSports Bookmaker?
We believe that there are several questions you have to ask before choosing an online bookie to place eSports wagers at:
- Can I trust the website?
- Are their prices for esports bets good?
- What promotions do they offer?
- What types of wagers can I place on eSports matches?
Can You Trust the Bookmaker?
Figuring out if you should trust an online bookie comes down to several simple tests.
- The initial is the test of regulation. Which jurisdiction issued the license? You can typically find this info in the footer of the bookie’s site. If you are not familiar with the jurisdiction, do a little research. If there have been any player issues with the websites that regulated under the same jurisdiction, you will not have to do a lot more than a Google search to uncover them. Moreover, what are some of the other websites the jurisdiction licenses? If you are familiar with some online betting brands already, which are the authorities that license them?
- The next is the test of social proof. This is basically about what people say about the bookie on review sites and social media. What type of accessibility and availability does the website offer in terms of customer support and social media accounts? You can tell the difference between an active and credible site and a shady one just by examining these characteristics.
- The final is the test of experience. You should start at bookmakers that have passed the initial two tests. Make the smallest deposit and place the smallest possible bet. If you have any queries or issues, pose them to customer support and gauge the sincerity and quality of the response. If you do not like anything about your experience, you should move on. There are dozens of other sites that would be more than happy to have your business.
Are the Prices for eSports Good?
The odds on a specific match will not be the same at each online bookmaker. You will want to do a little shopping around at first to make sure which bookie tends to offer the odds that you think are the most favorable ones.
This is a question you have to be regularly asking, as markets are dynamic and sportsbooks get better or worse at predicting specific markets on a regular betting.
What Type of Promotional Value Does the Bookmaker Offer?
Price is only a single part of the equation regarding getting the best value for an eSports wager. Websites offer players, particularly new ones, a variety of bonuses and promotions that can improve the payout you receive.
Three of the most crucial promotional components to be aware of are:
- Deposit bonuses.
- VIP programs.
- Free bets.
What Type of Wagers Can You Place on eSports?
At this part of the game, the quantity and quality of available wager on eSports significantly varies from one sportsbook to another.
The dominant form of gambling right now is match betting. This is gambling on the outcome of a game or event. However, some of the leading bookmakers in the space like Unikrn and Pinnacle are experimenting with in-play betting, that are wagers offered and made on events within the match.
Live markets are among the most complicated to develop and maintain in regular sports, and it will most likely take some time before more in-play betting options are available for a wide variety of eSports events at a wide variety of sportsbooks.
Users should also consider the quality of markets, since not every sportsbook offers odds on all events. Some operators like as Betway and bet365 are rapidly enhancing their cover, while others like William Hill seem to be taking a more waiting approach to see what will happen with the eSports industry before they fill out their eSports tab.
Is It Legal to Wager on eSports?
This is quite the complicated question that is not possible to answer for every user in every situation. The important thing that you should keep in mind is that you, as a punter, are subject to the regulations and laws of your jurisdiction. If a certain type of gambling on sports is not legal in your location, then probably the same goes for wagering on eSports.
Who Regulates eSports Gambling?
There is still no regulatory body for eSports, however, there are several entities and leagues like ESL that cooperate to different degrees. As eSports grow, it is very likely that we will see the development of one overarching regulatory body for the games, however, the global nature of this activity will complicate that to a specific degree.
Regarding the regulation of the gambling operators, the answer depends on the operator. Every site is regulated by the jurisdiction in the area in which they are located in. There are several popular licensing hubs for online betting, including the Isle of Man and the UK.
How Old Do You Have to Be to Gamble on eSports?
We cannot answer that, as the minimum betting age depends on the jurisdiction. Sometimes websites will set their minimum age which is above minimum age in their location.
How Do You Know Matches Are Fair?
There have already been several high-profile accusations of match-fixing with eSports.The fairness question in eSports play is a growing and legitimate one.
Without some assurance that the game you bet on is fair, you have almost no reason to risk money on the outcome.
There are several factors that are helping to make sure and affirm the fairness of eSports matches:
- The growth of eSports prizes – As more cash is on the line for winning competitions, the attraction of a financial promotion to throw matches decreases.
- Increased regulation – With enhanced prize pools and gambling comes increased regulation and attention. Both increase the risk that is associated with match-fixing and diminished the ability of match-fixers to hide in plain sight.
- The entrance of regular bookmakers – Fighting fraud is one of the main occupations of major sportsbooks such as bet365. As they enter the market for wagering on eSports, they bring their expertise and resources to bear on the problem of match-fixing in eSports.
How Do You Deposit?
Here, as in a lot of ways, eSports gambling is basically identical to traditional online betting on sports. You can fund your account and withdraw from it using any major financial method.
Using Cards to Deposit for eSports Gambling
VISA and MasterCard are easily the 2 most popular methods to deposit for eSports gambling. Players like this method because it is easy to use and it has a built-in security. The disadvantage comes for American Express clients, who often find that they are shut out of being able to deposit by cards. There may even be relatively low limits for deposits or other restrictions on how many you can make at a specific time.
Can You Use Bitcoin to Bet On eSports?
Not universally, and not a lot of the major, established bookmakers take wagers on eSports. However, there is some smaller bookie, some of which specialize in eSports gambling, which allows Bitcoin cashouts and deposits.
Other Ways to Make Deposits for eSport Bets
Other methods for adding and extracting money to and from online bookmakers include:
- Virtual wallets like Skrill and Neteller.
- Wire transfers.
- ACH transfers.
- Cash deposits at a land-based location.
- Money transfer services.
The Size of the eSports Gambling Market
Because of the semi-private nature and the rapid growth of eSports betting, there are not any precise figures that capture the size of the market.
Based on our experience and research, we can provide a few general guidelines for thinking about where the market is likely to head in the future as well as its size.
How Many People Are Gambling on eSports?
With a reported 145 million fans and audiences worldwide for major eSports events number in the millions, it is a safe bet that there are more than 1 million players gambling real money on eSports in 2015.
How Much Money is Wagered Worldwide?
We believe that Pinnacle is the leading traditional bookmaker in the eSports industry, and have taken millions of bets. Even at a modest average bet and using other assumptions, we are still talking about a total amount gambled at an online sportsbook that will become more than half a billion dollars in 2017.
We expect that well-funded bookies like Unikrn will quickly show a competitive challenge to the Pinnacle’s current dominance and that other mainstream bookmakers will grow interested in the space over the course of the following years.
What Regions Wager the Most on eSports?
A lack of clear data prevents a definitive answer to this query, but it is our belief that gambling on eSports follows a similar interest distribution to the one which is displayed on the level of participation in eSports.
In that case, the eSports betting regions are:
- ROW (rest of world): 4%
- Europe: 12%
- United States: 23%
- Asia: 61%
How Can I Place Bets on eSports?
There are many different ways with which you can bet on the outcome of eSports competitions. We have grouped them these categories:
- Traditional gambling.
- Fantasy betting.
- Item and Skin betting.
- Social betting.
Here we will discuss betting on eSports within a traditional bookmaker. This is the same way that you place an online wager on a football game. The majority of online sportsbooks now offer at least a few markets on eSports, however, the quantity and quality of the offering can greatly vary by every individual bookie.
- The main advantage of betting on eSports at a traditional bookmaker is that you can place your wager with confidence, knowing that there is a credible operator behind the online website taking your bet.
- The downside of gambling at bookie regarding eSports is that most bookmakers are still getting to know the industry, meaning that you may find an inferior selection of wagers and stakes, at least for the time being.
A couple of traditional bookmakers that have embraced eSports gambling are bet365 and Pinnacle.
This genre of gambling is particularly popular in the US, where access to quality online bookmakers is limited by regulations and laws. However, thanks mainly to a federal law known as UIGEA, fantasy-based gambling enjoys at least a partial exemption from the American betting law.
Where traditional gambling usually has to do with the outcome of a match or an event within the match, fantasy gambling generally sees opposing users build rosters for major events. This is similar to what you would do to bet on fantasy football or baseball. The lineup that performs the top of the course of the event is the winning one.
That is the other main difference between fantasy sports gambling and traditional wagering – instead of betting against the bookmaker as you do with sports gambling, with fantasy wagering you are competing against other players.
- The main downside is that it is not quite the same as placing a wager on the outcome of an eSports match, and there are not many options for playing fantasy eSports.
- The advantage is that it is readily available and considered legal in the mass of states.
Item and Skin Gambling
Item betting is a term for wagering, sometimes formal, sometimes not, that takes place within marketplaces for items. It is tough to appreciate the full size of this aspect of eSports gambling as there is very little visibility into a volume. However, anecdotally, there is enough to suggest thousands of players are participating in wagering.
Item betting does not involve any money, at least not directly. Instead, bets and prizes are entirely conducted using transferrable in-game items like abilities or weapons. In many cases, these items are exchangeable for money at a 3rd-party destination, blurring the lines regarding the legality of these types of wager in specific jurisdictions.
- The main advantage of marketplace gambling is that it is relatively straightforward and can help you get value out of the items you are not going to use.
- The disadvantage is that there are little regulation and almost no ways to know that the games you are playing are far or that your winnings will be given to you.
- The main advantage of social betting on eSports is that it is a low-friction way to add some engagement and fun to an already social experience.
- The disadvantage of social gambling is that it is quite the limited market. You have no guarantee that you will be able to find a friend who wants to take the action you are seeking. And, if you are always beating your friends with these wagers, you will either run out of gambling friends or partners before too long.
In spite of the risks that are associated with marketplace gambling, it is easy to think that it outstrips bookmaker betting on eSports and fantasy gambling combined. A lot of players will not even consider this activity as betting, there is almost no restriction on who can take part, and in several jurisdictions, gambling represents an economic opportunity for creative participants.
A recent crackdown by the Valve Corporation on eSports betting sites has left the future of the vertical in question.
Social eSports Gambling
Social betting on eSports refers to the type of casual bet placed among friends on the outcome of an event or match. This type of gambling might also include challenge gambling, where individuals compete directly for a bet.
Attempting to evaluate the size of this market is currently not possible, as there is little in the way of confirmable or reliable data, but given how organically sport and gambling combine as a social activity, there is obviously a reason to believe that it is quite substantial in size.