Your Ultimate Guide to Esports Betting
We can track the concept back to the early 1970s, but it wasn’t until the 21st century that esports betting truly hit its stride. Thanks mainly to vast technological developments, what started with a Stanford University video game competition developed into a billion-dollar industry.
Esports continues to grow, with larger tournaments being created and more prize money offered. It reaches over 400 million viewers worldwide and attracts lucrative sponsorship deals for professional players. The growing popularity of esports betting mirrors the substantial support for and investment many have in esports.
This information was last updated on May 26, 2022.
- What are esports?
- Best Esports Betting Site: DraftKings
- Upcoming Esports Events
- Esports Betting Sites
- What’s Legal?
- State by State
- Esports Betting Leagues and Markets
- Biggest Esports Betting Events
WHAT ARE ESPORTS?
Esports are competitive events just like your typical sporting event like basketball or football, only with video games. Players of all physical skillsets can enter an esports arena and be one of the top competitors, making it an accessible and fun pursuit for a wide variety of challengers. The next question you might have is an obvious one: can you bet on esports? The answer is yes, but you'll need our guide to know exactly what's available.
Last Updated May 26, 2022 12:34 PM ET
BEST ESPORTS BETTING SITE: DRAFTKINGS
DraftKings has long been one of the most popular daily fantasy sites in the US. With their recent rollout of sports betting, the popularity has only continued to grow. DraftKings is currently the best place for esports betting in the states where it is legal.
DraftKings covers most of the major esports tournaments. Fans of League of Legends, for example, can bet on matches from the LCS, LEC, LCK, LPL, and the World Championship. The website also offers excellent promotional offers to both new and existing users.
ONLINE SPORTSBOOKS WITH ESPORTS BETTING
ESPORTS BETTING SITES
Esports betting adds another dimension to sports betting and has garnered global support. While not all sportsbooks include this option in their sports lineup, those that do enjoy a substantial base of bettors targeting the best esports odds.
Some well-known esports betting sites with markets for leagues and tournaments are DraftKings, Caesars , and Betway. You can only bet on esports at these sportsbooks in states with legal esports betting but they aren’t all available in each such state.
Here is the list of the top esports betting sites, together with the welcome offers you can get once you register. Note, esports betting events are sporadic in the US, with state-level regulators often requiring sportsbooks to receive special permission to offer esports odds and betting lines. There are only a few states in which esports betting is specifically and explicitly legal. That said, fantasy esports is up and running at the top US DFS site, DraftKings, and has very few state restrictions.
|Esports Betting Sites||Current Welcome Offer|
|DraftKings||Sign up bonus up to $1,050|
21+, AZ/NJ/CO/IN/WV/PA/IL/IA/TN/MI/VA/WV only. T&Cs apply.
|FanDuel||$1,000 Risk-Free Bet|
21+, AZ/VA/NJ/PA/IN/IA/MI/CO/WV/TN/IL only. T&Cs apply.
|BetMGM||$1,000 Risk-Free Bet|
21+, AZ/NJ/CO/WV/IA/IN/TN/MI/NV/VA/PA/DC* only. T&Cs apply.
|Unibet||$500 Risk-Free Bet|
21+, VA/NJ/PA/IN only. T&Cs apply.
|Resorts||$250 Risk-Free Bet|
21+, NJ only. T&Cs apply.
|Caesars Sportsbook||$5000 Risk-Free Bet|
21+, AZ/CO/IA/IN/MI/NJ/TN/VA/WV only. T&Cs apply.
*DC sportsbooks are only available online within select sporting venues.
HOW TO PICK A TOP SPORTSBOOK WITH ESPORTS BETTING?
Selecting the best esports betting site is similar to choosing the best sportsbook to wager on classic sports. First, ensure that you pick a legal site. Currently, Connecticut, Tennessee, Nevada, New Jersey, Colorado, Virginia, and Washington have some form of legal esports betting.
Other factors to consider when choosing which of the esports betting sites to register with include the following:
- Betting markets available
- Welcome bonus for new customers
- Promotions and loyalty program for existing customers
- Banking options that you are comfortable with
- Convenient customer support options
- Competitive odds
- Realistic and manageable terms and conditions
Much like with regular sports, there are regional leagues and world championships where professional esports teams compete in a variety of games. Some of the most popular ones include CS:GO, League of Legends, Dota 2, Overwatch, Fortnite, and Rocket League. Look for a sportsbook that hosts your favorite esports events.
UPCOMING & RECENT ESPORTS EVENTS
|Game||Event||Location||Date (Subject to Change)|
|Valorant||2021 VCT Game Changers SEA: FSL Open Overtime||Online||September 5-9, 2021|
|Rainbow Six: Siege||2021 Operation League Taiwan Season 6||Taiwan||September 9 - October 31, 2021|
|Dota 2||The International 10||Bucharest, Romania||October 7-17, 2021|
|Hearthstone||2021 Master Tour Stormwind||Online||October 22-24, 2021|
|CS:GO||BLAST Premier: Fall Finals 2021||Copenhagen, Denmark||November 23-28|
|CS:GO||BLAST Premier: World Final 2021||TBA||December 14-19, 2021|
ESPORTS BETTING IN THE US: WHAT’S LEGAL?
The Professional and Amateur Protection Act of 1992 ruled sports betting illegal. However, when the Supreme Court revoked PASPA in 2018, it became each state’s right to pass laws legalizing sports betting in its jurisdiction. Does this include esports betting? The simple answer is no.
For most states, esports is not considered as a part of their legal sports betting package. However, some states have opted to include specific language legalizing these types of bets.
In daily fantasy sports, your virtual team consists of real, professional players. The success of your team depends on the performance of your players in real life. Similarly, you assemble your esports fantasy team from live esports competitors, and how they perform in esports games and competitions determines your success.
Legal esports fantasy is more widespread than live esports in America, with over 40 states offering DFS as a legal activity. If you reside in a state where esports betting is not allowed, esports fantasy is an enjoyable alternative.
DraftKings and FanDuel are the pioneers of daily fantasy sports and are live with esports fantasy in several states. Both operators offer regular esports fantasy contests for members, giving you the chance to win real money.
ESPORTS BETTING STATE BY STATE
There are very few states with legal esports betting. However, due to the popularity of esports, we anticipate that more states will move towards legalizing this. Here’s how the states with legal esports betting sites match up.
New Jersey was a huge contributor to the revocation of PASPA and one of the first to legalize sports betting. It also allowed esports betting, but only on state-sanctioned tournaments, providing limited availability to bettors.
The state Senate passed new legislation in July 2021 thanks to bill A637, otherwise known as the esports betting bill. This legislation allows all legal sportsbooks with esports in the Garden State to accept bets of up to $100. While this low wager limit may deter some enthusiasts, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement may sanction a higher limit down the line.
The State Congress in Nevada first allowed esports betting in 2017 at the William Hill Race & Sports Book at the Downtown Grand in Las Vegas. Bettors could only wager on a League of Legends tournament taking place at an esports event called IEM Oaklands.
In March 2020, the Nevada Gaming Control Board granted all the esports betting sites in the Silver State permission to offer betting markets on the Counter-Strike ESL Pro League, season 11. Some restrictions applied, but it was the first time sportsbooks could accept wagers for any esports games or CS:GO tournaments. Since then, the NGCB has allowed betting on further esports games and leagues.
House Bill 1327 categorizes esports events as sports events. This bill made it possible for the Centennial State to make esports betting legal from May 2020.
Some restrictions apply, in particular one prohibiting betting on esports games that involve high school participants. Additionally, a sports governing body must give its permission before betting can commence on any esports leagues or tournaments.
Tennessee’s situation regarding esports is very clear. The Tennessee Sports Gaming Act came into effect in July 2019 and states, in no uncertain terms, that online esports betting is legal.
It took a while before the first sportsbooks launched, but from November 2020, bettors in the Volunteer State could wager on a range of events, including CS: GO tournaments and LoL tournaments. DraftKings and FanDuel were among the first sportsbooks to offer esports betting to Tennesseans.
Virginia legalized online sports betting as a part of SB 384 in 2020. Included in the text of that bill is the following:
"Sports event" or "sporting event" means professional sports, college sports, and any athletic event, motor race event, electronic sports event, or competitive video game event."
Therefore, as operators choose to offer esports events for betting, Virginia-based sportsbooks will be able to add these options to their sites and apps while staying within the law.
Washington is inching its way towards a fully legal online sports betting package. It's not entirely there yet, but the language of legislation passed in 2020 and clarified this year indicates that esports betting will be legal there when online sportsbooks start to go live.
Connecticut has a limited sports betting program, with only three operators in the market. However, this doesn't mean that esports betting is in short supply in the Constitution State. Esports betting is explicitly allowed as a part of their online sports betting market, so you can get online and bet on esports (if available) in CT today.
ESPORTS BETTING LEAGUES AND MARKETS
Esports betting may have kicked off with just a couple of tournaments, but now allows wagering on a broad range of games and game types. The three main categories of esports games are Multiplayer Online Battle Area, including League of Legends and Dota 2; First Person Shooter, which includes CS:GO and Sport Simulators like NBA2K and FIFA Online.
The main betting markets closely resemble those that you see in sports betting and mostly cover all games and leagues. However, a lot is going on in each individual game, which adds to the list of betting markets that you can wager on. These are some of the more common betting markets available:
Whether we are talking about basketball or League of Legends betting, betting on the outright winner is one of the simplest betting types. As you might guess from the name, it refers to betting on the outright winner of a tournament. For example, LoL odds for outright winner depend on the number of participants and how far before or into the tournament you place your bet.
Although simple, betting on the outright winner of a tournament means that you will have to wait quite a bit before you find out if you won. That is, if you are lucky and the team you bet on lasts until the finals!
A head-to-head winner bet is basically the same as the outright winner, except it’s used when there are only two players or teams.
Most esports are played in several rounds, for example, best of 3, 5 or 7. When you bet that a team will win a map, you are actually betting that they will win a particular round or set of rounds.
BEST OF 3, 5, ETC.
As we’ve said, best-of-3 and best-of-5 matches are very common in esports. Apart from the overall Bo3 or Bo5 winner, you will also be able to bet on the correct final score in a matchup.
FAVORITE VS. FIELD
You will see favorite vs. field bets when there is a clear tournament favorite. With this bet type, you are betting that any of the other teams will win the tournament instead of the favorite.
ESPORTS GAME PROPS
Game props are bets placed on events during a game that don't necessarily have to do with the outcome. They are popular with esports enthusiasts and add to the game’s excitement and anticipation. Game props vary somewhat between categories and between games within the same category. Props available in First Person Shooter games will differ from those in MOBA games, and game props in CS:GO may be different from those in Call of Duty.
Keep an eye out for these popular game props:
This is an over/under bet. You wager on the total number of kills being under or over the number you anticipate.
The term “first blood” is characteristic of many competitive games, including League of Legends or Dota 2. It’s when a team scores the first kill in a match. First kills can be pivotal in the early game, which is why they are especially important in competitive matches.
This is why you’ll always see LoL odds listed for this bet type. Additionally, this is one of the betting types which is resolved the quickest. This is because it usually happens within the first few minutes of a match.
FIRST TEAM TO SCORE 10 KILLS
This one is more or less self-explanatory. In most esports, the number of kills usually corresponds to a team's success. So whether we are talking about Dota 2 betting or CS:GO betting, this is a betting type you will often encounter.
BIGGEST ESPORTS BETTING EVENTS
Esports tournaments have boomed in popularity, with thousands available for betting each year. You can attend tournaments in person. However, many bettors prefer to follow the live streaming laid on by the organizers. We outline some of the best tournaments for some of the top esports games below.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is one of the top games. There are plenty of CS:GO tournaments, but the Major Championship is the annual highlight. During this prestigious event, this CS:GO tournament consists of 24 teams which compete for a prize pot of up to $2 million.
Some of the other CS:GO tournaments and events with competitive esports odds are S-Tier, A-Tier, B-Tier, C-Tier, European Development Championship, and Intel Extreme Masters.
LEAGUE OF LEGENDS
The World Championship is undeniably the best of all the LoL tournaments and runs at the end of the season. With a prize pool of more than $4 million, it’s a high-pressure event with tough competitors, and one of the most-watched LoL tournaments.
Another of the top LoL tournaments with great esports odds is the Mid-Season Invitational that takes place around May each year. The tournament runs over more than one month, culminating in a final Knockout stage that determines the winner.
The International rates as the top Dota 2 tournament. This annual world championship attracts millions of viewers and features highly for esports betting. It also has the most substantial prize pool of all esports events.
The Dota 2 Major Championships started in 2015 to elevate the game and boost competition. It’s done both very successfully and remains popular with players and bettors.
The Valorant Champions Tour spans a year and features the best of the best in terms of competition. It consists of several stages with multiple tournaments, all leading to the final Champions event.
Other popular Valorant tournaments are VCT: Game Changers, Red Bull Campus Clutch, Nerd Street Gamers - Summer Championships, and Valorant Conquerors Championship.
ESPORTS BETTING FAQ
WHERE CAN I BET ON ESPORTS LEGALLY IN THE US?
Esports betting is legal in quite a few jurisdictions, including Colorado, Tennessee, Virginia, New Jersey, Nevada, and Washington. However, the availability of these bets (in-person versus online, only during certain events, etc.) varies from state to state and throughout the year. Other states are in the process of legalizing this activity, and we should see legal esports betting rolling out to more Americans soon.
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST TOURNAMENT IN ESPORTS BETTING?
The biggest tournament for bettors is the CS:GO Major Championships. This is a series of four CS:GO tournaments that take place throughout the year, affording plenty of betting opportunities for bettors at excellent esports odds.
ARE THERE ANY LEAGUE OF LEGENDS BETTING SITES?
As one of the most popular esports of all time, League of Legends features on all esports betting sites. In addition to the LoL leagues that run throughout the year, you can bet on the LoL tournaments at any legal sportsbook in your state with esports markets.
ESPORTS BETTING CONCLUSION
Esports is a valuable addition to sportsbooks. While some may not consider it a sport per se, it falls within the basic legal definition of a sport, which is why you can legally wager on leagues and tournaments.
The esports trend is gaining momentum worldwide. It gives bettors new and exciting betting opportunities and provides sportsbooks with an additional profit stream. The more popular it becomes, the more available esports betting will be across the US.
Now that you have an idea of how to bet on esports, you can start by finding, for example, a Dota 2 betting site with good odds and placing a bet. GLHF!