eSports Betting Sites
eSports is still a relatively new term and refers to electronic sports. This can mean any sport or game where the primary mechanism of playing is driven by electronic systems. Most commonly when we talk about eSports however we are referring to multiplayer video game events and competitions played between professional individuals and teams. These are commercially available computer games based around real time strategy, first person shooters, multi-person battle scenarios or virtual sports, such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, Call of Duty, Star Craft II, FIFA and others.
Effectively any game that attracts organised leagues and fans also attracts the bookies to give odds on the outcome of the games. Over £50 billion is now wagered on eSports worldwide, that isn't exactly small change, putting the sport above a lot of traditional sports already.
Whether you can class eSports as an actual sport is open to debate, many would say these are just games, then again similar things have been said about the likes of snooker, darts and other games of skill in the past. Either way there is a huge following of eSports, particularly in Asia, and this is certainly an upward trend that cannot be ignored. Many betting site now provide expansive markets and even promotions for eSports. In this guide we will tell you the top eSports bookmakers, where to find deals, how to bet and what types of wagers are available, history and more.
Best Online Bookmakers for eSports Betting
Despite the almost meteoritic rise of eSports globally only some betting sites have truly taken the plunge into this area. Setting odds and markets on eSports is very different to traditional sports and I think this has left some bookies lost at sea. The sites recommended here however have embraced the new age of electronic betting.
Absolute Biggest & Best eSports Site
Unibet not only offer an unparalleled range of markets for eSports betting they are also one of the few online betting sites to provide regular eSports promotions.
You will find all of the top tournaments year round with Unibet including league of Legends, Counter Strike, Dota 2 and more. The bookie have more markets than any other I have seen and one of the best live betting features for eSports around. Unibet claim to be the eSports experts and from what I can tell they are not lying.
Unibet have their own traders whose entire job is to set prices on eSports markets and this means you will find some of the most competitive prices around. They also regularly run offers for eSports too and these are rare elsewhere.
Killing The Competition
Bet365 have a fantastic selection of eSports markets and probably the best odds around to go with it. Their in-play selection is also superb and only matched by Betway.
The Bet365 eSports section is more professional than most, but at the end of the day if what matters to you is choice and value then you won't go far wrong betting on eSports with them. You will probably never get an offer here but you will find many lines, especially in the 'specials' sections that you won't get anywhere else.
All Major Leagues Covered
10bet are a bookmaker that always look forward to the future rather than back to the past of bookmaking. They therefore are one of the best eSports bookies out there not only for covering all the major leagues but also by making markets really easy to understand and bet on. Part of the problem if you are new to electronic sports betting is finding the right line for you. 10bet structure their eSports markets in a user friendly, easy to navigate, and clear way so you can find your wager in an instant.
10bet offer match outrights, money lines, spreads and over / under markets. This bookie also provide fantastic all sports acca offers that can be used for eSports as well as monthly reload bonuses and a fantastic sign up deal. See our main 10bet review page for more.
Top eSports Interface
Ladbrokes don't necessarily have the depth of market coverage of some other operators but they do have one of the better eSports pages. Markets are clearly split by time and event making finding the line you want to wager on an absolute breeze. If you are someone that wants a bookmaker that does everything then there is no better than Ladbrokes.
Ladbrokes cover handicap betting, most match markets and in play too with decent odds and a good amount of advance lines.
Dedicated eSports Section
bet-at-home are a thoroughly European bookie that has embraced eSports in the same way Betway has. They have an expansive range of markets and these are not buried in some 'more sports' sub-menu, in a sign of their intent eSports is listed prominently in the main menu bar and has a dedicated section.
Bet-at-Home has been around since 1999 and therefore represent one of the oldest betting sites around. They have a ethos to provide value and functionality over offers and razzmatazz, and so while the site may look a little dated it is one of the fastest and easiest to use, in-play particularly, with much better odds than their competitors as they focus on general value over flash-in-the-pan deals.
Must have betting site for anyone serious about eSports.
Maximum Payout Limits For eSports
A Brief History of eSports
The idea of people watching and betting on video game competitions may seem like something that has only come about since the advent of super-fast broadband. In fact, these types of competitions are as old as video gaming itself. Sure only in the modern day can you follow these events from anywhere in the world but as far back as the 1970's teams of professionals were competing in what were then the very latest games.
Back in 1972 a group of students at Stamford University in California started a competition for the game Spacewar, they called it the 'Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics'. The event was held as a best man wins, the winner getting a subscription to the magazine Rolling Stone. The first large scale tournament to be held was the Space Invaders Championship held by Atari in 1980. The event reportedly attracted over 10,000 players in the United States and established gaming as a mainstream hobby.
The next 10 years saw video gaming grow to new highs as new arcades opened in cities across the world. This progressively moved into people's homes with the advent of smaller sized gaming consoles and computers. In the 1980's a couple of eSports television programmes aired including Starcade, a US programme that ran for two years from 1982 in which players competed to beat the others scores on a popular arcade game.
The 1990s changed everything as games went online. The first online game, as accredited by Wired magazine, was known as metaservers and launched in 1988 however it was the Nintendo world championships that toured around the US in 1990 that brought eSports onto most people's radar for the first time. In 1994 a second event was held using the newer Super Nintendo system that attracted tens of thousands of competitors whittled down to 132 finalists. Gaming as a pastime was now becoming hugely popular with younger generations, this lead to many gaming related TV shows such as Gamesmaster.
The rise of eSports as a global phenomenon in the new millennium was caused by two main factors, firstly the rise in popularity in Asian countries (mainly South Korea) and secondly the advent of broadband internet.
In 2000 the South Korean eSports association was established; it is taken so seriously that this an official arm of the Ministry of culture. It is believed that eSports took off here in particular due to the 1997 Asian financial crash that led to the building of the fastest National internet infrastructure in the world combined with many people out of work looking for new things to occupy their time.
In 2000 there were around 10 major eSports tournaments, in 2010 there were 260. Over this time successful championships such as the World Cyber Games and the Major Gaming League. In 2005 one tournament for the Webgames Championship attracted a top prize of $1 million.
Korea began televising eSports in the 2000s too with a 24/7 TV channel devoted to competitions such as Starcraft and Warcraft. Although other Western countries have flirted with this in the past this remains a largely Korean TV craze. That doesn't mean to say people don't watch eSports the world over. Since 2011 streaming of eSports has become widely available through services such as Twitch and now even through some online betting sites that provide e-sports markets with League of Legends and Dota2 the most streamed.
E-Sports is certainly moving forward at a frantic pace. Most major game developers are now making their latest titles with the idea of eSports in mind. The worlds biggest eSports league, the Electronic Sports League, has over 6 million registered players for over 1 million teams. In recent years the ESL has partnered with similar leagues in Japan and other countries to grow the sport. The final of the 2014 League of Legends World Championship in Korea was sold out with over 40000 spectators.
Currently nearly 500 million people are watching eSports worldwide with ever increasing streaming availability. It is truly the sport of the new age, mainly internet based with the vase majority of viewers in the 18 - 34 years of age category. The split between men and women engaging is however 85% male to 15% female, and while all sports are generally swayed towards men this is particularly notable. Projected revenues from eSports is expected to approach and exceed $1 billion in the near future.
If you would like to read more about the life of an eSports professional see our dedicated article.
How To Bet On eSports
The principle of betting on eSports is not dramatically different to any other sport. Teams or individuals compete and punters can bet on everything from the outright match result to the outcome of individual sections of the game. Handicap betting, over / under points and spread betting is also very common. We discuss the most popular wagers below, for more about bet types in general see our betting guide.
How eSports are Played
As an eSport is a video game competition then effectively each different game is played in a different way. Saying that there are common factors between the games that allow standardised betting markets.
Most of the games are divided into sections, referred to in the industry as maps, winning maps gives you points (usually 1 point) and the team that wins the most points or maps win the game. This therefore means it is possible to bet on the overall match result the result of individual maps as well as the points spread. This hierarchy means eSports is also perfect for live in play betting.
eSports matches tend to take several hours but generally do not go over one day, tournaments however can last weeks.
Outright & Match Result Betting
The most common bet is the winner of a given match between two or more individuals or teams. This is simply betting on the win or the draw. In the same way it is also possible to bet on the outright tournament winner.
These tend to present the highest value odds due to more bookies competing for these lines. Most betting sites now offer at least outright betting and it is possible to compare odds using various comparison sites.
Match betting also tends to attract the most offers and this can add further value to any wager. For example accumulator insurance. In addition to the typical win / lose senarios you can also bet on top 3/10 finishes, to reach the final, region the winner comes from, tournament most valuable players, etc.
The most basic punt here is the winner of the map and this tends to be the most popular bet in play bet for eSports. Maps take less time to complete and so are more suited to live betting than match result betting.
Depending on the type of game (first person shooter, battle, tactical, etc.) there are several other map bets available. You may see markets such as 'first to draw blood', 'first to 10 kills', 'total kills', 'next to kill or be slain', 'most towers destroyed', 'first to slay a dragon', 'most buildings destroyed', etc., and this again means there is plenty to bet on in play.
There are also more conventional markets such as correct map score, 2-way and over/under bets available.
Individual Team Bets
It is possible to place bets on how individual team members may perform within a map/round/match/tournament and it is also possible to place wagers on how teams will perform within tournaments. Examples include top scoring individual/team, most kills, first to 10 kills, biggest score, etc.
Almost every market available can be split into a tournament as a whole, a team or an individual. For this reason you can see that many eSports markets can have great depth giving you as many betting opportunities, if not more, than something like a football match.
The points nature of eSports means it is possible to bet on all sorts of handicap and Asian handicap markets. These are fairly commonly covered by eSports betting sites and are therefore fairly competitive. Most of our recommended bookies will offer this bet type.
Most of the bets already discussed are available in the handicap market. You can kind thing like 'kill handicaps' in addition to the more typical handicaps on overall points within a series/team/round/event.
Over / Under Points Spread Markets
Again the points structure lends itself to this type of wager. Bet on how many points, kills, maps, etc., a team will win or lose by. Note however over / under bets tend to be excluded from offers such as accumulator insurance.
Over/Under betting is quite useful to gauge where the market is at if you are new to eSports or a specific game. If for example you want to bet on how many kills there will be but you are unsure where the benchmark is then have a look at this market and find the line with roughly equal odds for over and under, this is where the bookies think the average is.
Another classic bet the very much applied to eSports. It is usually possible to place correct score wagers on both individual maps and the overall match. You can also predict the correct score in an entire series, depending on the format of the tournament
Within this market you can also bet on highest scoring teams or players.
An eSports tournament can host several matches a day over weeks and therefore accumulator betting is very popular in electronic sports. Plenty of online bookmakers will give you either eSports specific insurance or will have all sports acca insurances and bonuses that apply.
Based On Real Sports
Games that are based around real sports (e.g. the FIFA eWorld Cup) present unique betting options to punters. Here you can place many of the same wagers as you would on a match or tournament in the real world, but you can also place bets on the players of the game as with other eSports describe here.
Unlike a sport like football where every game effectively follows the same rules, in eSports every title is completely different. This means on a game by game, and even tournament by tournament, basis the bets available can vary massively. You will often find a lot of wagers bespoke to a certain game under the 'specials' tab.
There is very little point going into examples and there so many possibilities. Suffice to say if you want to back a specific player or team to do something within a game you will find the market in these sections.
Other Betting Systems
In theory the simple scoring system in place for eSports means there is nothing to stop you placing more complex bet types including full cover betting such as Lucky 15's, forecast betting, conditional betting, Asian handicaps, spread bets and more. It is likely you will need to ask the betting site directly for these markets but many will gladly provide the. Click on the bet type above for more information on how they work or see our bet types guide.
Live In Play Betting
The rise of eSports in bookmaking is in large part due to the popularity of live in play betting. As outlined in the how to bet section above most of the wagers available are perfectly suited to in play betting and as this is a sport that is streamed to most of its audience it naturally lends itself to placing a wager online, usually on mobile.
Most operators that provide eSports markets will also offer live betting. All of our recommend bookies above offer in play markets and Bet365 and Unibet in particular are unbeatable in our opinion.
News, Results and Statistics
One of the best aspects of electronic gaming is it is possible to record everything. Therefore if you like studying stats and results there is possibly no better sport. There are tons of websites out there with in depth information available however recently the betting sites themselves have started to provide eSports statistics.
Be365 currently have the best overall package with stats, results and even an eSports news blog.
Live Streaming and Commentary
Strangely not many betting sites provide eSports streaming but we've heard it's not far away. Then again most eSports is watched through online streaming services anyway so for most event streaming from the bookmaker is not vital.
As streaming becomes more available this section will be updated. For now just have a look on google and you will see lots of streaming options.
Major eSports Tournaments
eSports tournaments are physical events with real spectators. Teams or individuals play in front of a live audience although the format of tournaments can vary. Many tournaments are structured in a similar way to a football competition. Commonly this consists of group stages followed by knockout stages or simply just knockout rounds on their own.
A successful team or gamer can earn millions each year from playing the top eSports tournament and through sponsorship deals. Some of the biggest events include:
- DreamHack – Is actually several events through the year that collectively make up the world's largest electronic gaming festival. Events take place primarily in Europe although in 2016 the event was hosted in Texas (US) for the first time. With potentially millions available in prize money this is a major deal for the worlds biggest teams. The event also acts as a general expo with live music, entertainment, etc. DreamHack draws millions of viewers for the various tournaments from League of Legends to Mortal Kombat
- World Cyber Games – The Olympics of eSports would be the best way to describe this tournament. Operated and run by the South Korean World Cyber Games company the even has all the touches with an opening ceremony and competitors competing by country for gold, silver and bronze medals. This event has been running since 2000, generally in late autumn, and now boasts a prize fund of around $400,000. The tournament has not run since 2013 however due to disputes at the CEO level.
- Major League Gaming – This US tournament is based in New York but holds tournaments throughout the United States and Canada. Set up in 2002 the tournament can boast being the first ever televised eSports championship in the US. In 2016 the MLG was taken over by Activision Blizzard their main aim being to set up a televised tournament.
- eSports World Cup – An annual eSports event which competitors can reach by winning national qualification events. Countries and teams win gold silver and bronze in the various gaming titles. The cup has been held all over the world in America, Europe and Asia.
- Other Events – There are tons and tons of other eSports events, some regional and some worldwide but title restricted. New championships are also cropping up all of the time. For example, Apex, Battle.net World Championship Series, BlizzCon, Capcom Cup, eCompete Online, Electronic Sports League, ESEA League, European Gaming League, Evolution Championship Series, Garena Premier League, Intel Extreme Masters, Global Starcraft II League, Halo Championship Series, World Cyber Arena and UMG Gaming.
Top eSports Game Titles
There are too many eSports titles to list and more and more coming into the industry at the same time. The gaming world is split into the following categories, each with examples:
- Fighting Games – Street fighter, Super Smash Bros, Tekken, Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct, Marvel vs Capcom.
- First Person Shooters – Doom, Quake, Halo, Overwatch, CrossFire, Battlefield, Call of Duty, Counter Strike Series, Special Force II, Alliance of Valiant Arms, Painkiller, Unreal, Battlefield, Team Fortress II, Rainbow Six, etc.
- Real Time Strategy – Warcraft III, Starcraft II, Starcraft BroodWar
- Sport – FIFA, Pro Evolution Soccer, NBA 2K, Rocket League, Subspace Hockey League, Madden, iRacing, Trackmania, Project CARS
- Battle – Dota II, League of Legends, Smite, Heroes of the Storm, Vainglory, Heroes of Newerth
- War – Worls of Warcraft, World of Tanks, War Thunder, Heroes of Warcraft
- Other – Tetris, Donkey Kong, Nintendo (in general), Pokemon, Splatoon, Gears of War, Guild Wars II, World of Tanks, World of Warcraft, Splatoon, Hearthstone, etc.
Odds and Payouts
Unfortunately this is the kind of market that if you don't find the right bookie you could get some really poor odds. It takes a lot of investment from betting sites into research and risk in order to properly set prices for any market, this usually requires trained traders to assess the value and set odds for customers. Many bookmakers are lazy with eSports and rather than taking the time to provide fair odds they instead throw out low prices with high margins built in to reduce their own risk.
This is not the case without recommended bookmakers at the top of this page. All have taken the time and expended resources to get their eSports platform up and running. This means you not only get more markets but fairer prices on those markets, Unibet and Bet365 currently being the best across the board.
Like most sports, outright and match result markets attract the best prices are these are the most competitive markets, you can even compare these lines on some odds comparison websites. If you want to bet in greater depth I would recommend signing up to a few of our recommended eSports betting sites and comparing odds between them on a bet by bet basis.
Be careful when betting on eSports if you bet with high stakes or on long odds. Electronic sports betting is still fairly new and tends to be classed as 'other sports' when it comes to payouts. This can mean in some instances maximum payouts can be as low as £1000 or even lower. If you think you are likely to come near this limit it is worthwhile having a quick check of the terms first.
If you want to be on the safe side bet with Betway who have some of the highest limits in the industry at £25,000 on all eSports markets. Until eSports becomes more mainstream I don't think you will get better than this without special arrangement.
Match and Bet Fixing in eSports
Many have suggested that eSports betting is open to fixing and manipulation more than other sports. There are currently around 50 major alerts of match fixing each year as fears grow that competitive gaming is more vulnerable to corrupt practices than many traditional sports.
In the past most match-fixing will have taken place at a low level by competitors simply to win the game, basically cheating. This however changed dramatically since the bookmakers got involved. Now there is in the region of £50,000,000,000 staked annually on eSports it makes engineers, teams and players far more open to corruption. It also encourages the involvement of criminal gangs putting further pressure on lower level teams and players to cheat.
Most betting takes place in China and South Korea, where betting is illegal and therefore any bets placed are also illegal, this makes monitoring suspicious betting practices more difficult. In a regulated market, like the UK, it is much easier to detect suspicious betting as operators are obliged to prevent crime by law and will also share with each other if large sums are bet on certain lines at certain times.
Only time will tell if eSports is more corrupt than other sports. The counter-argument however is that detection of corrupt practices is easier in electronic games than real world ones as everything is tracked and recorded digitally, meaning it is easier to spot cheating and punish those involved.
If you are worried that your own bets may be effected by cheating then try to stick to the bigger outright result markets. Most fixing is aimed at minor occurrences in an attempt to avoid detection, it would be almost impossible to fix and entire match or tournament without it being known.