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An introduction to esports betting
The word ‘esports’ is a blanket term that refers to competitive video games played online. Usually played in teams, the top esport players from all over the world compete in leagues and competitions that amass millions of fans and bettors from all corners of the Earth.
And the prizes on offer for the winners of the biggest esports tournaments can reach into the millions. This makes esports one of the most exciting and profitable sports genres in the world. And players and gamblers alike can win life-changing amounts of money on esports.
Esports have been around for a lot longer than you might think. In fact, the first known video game competition was held at Stanford University, in 1972, involving the game Spacewars. But it was the arcade game Space Invaders, released in 1978, that introduced the idea of a permanently recorded top score for players to try and beat.
This new concept of players competing to beat each other on the same game on different machines culminated in the Space Invaders Championship in 1980, which attracted more than 10,000 participants. This heralded a new age of competitive gaming. Since then, and with the invention of the internet making competitions more easily accessible, esports have taken the world by storm. And with esports comes esports gambling.
So, which esports are the most popular? And which ones are the best to bet on? Let’s take a closer look at how you can wager on the world’s best esports today.
The most popular esports
If you want to bet on esports, first you need to know which ones are the most popular. Here we’ve listed the most played and loved esports on the market today.
So, let’s get stuck in.
CSGO (Counter Strike Global Offensive)
With 11 million players per month, CSGO is one of the biggest games around. A multiplayer first-person shooter, teams work as either terrorists or counter-terrorists in this complex and intelligent game.
Both sides have an agenda, and fans can watch and make CSGO bets on tournaments held all throughout the year. However, the most popular event has to be the Major Championship, where the prize pool is a cool $1 million. And with the right CSGO bet, fans of gambling stand to make a pretty sweet profit too.
Popular betting markets on CSGO include:
- Match-up winner: the simplest bet you can place. Predict which team will win a specific match or tournament
- Correct score: CSGO is usually played in a best-of-three or best-of-five format. Place your bet on which team wins by how many games. Slightly more complex than a match-up winner bet
- Pistol round winner: this refers to the first round of each game, where players don’t have much money to buy things like fancy guns or ammo. And you can bet on the result of this specific round; the ‘pistol round’
There are also other betting markets, such as handicaps and draw no-bets, making CSGO one of the most fun games to wager on in the esports arena.
DOTA (Defence of the Ancients)
Since the release of the original game in 2003, DOTA has brought out 3 more instalments of this multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game. And DOTA 2 has become one of the biggest games on the planet, with tens of millions of fans playing monthly.
Considered the champion of MOBA games, the DOTA sagas see the ‘Heroes’ get together to destroy the enemy’s central base, called the ‘Ancient’. And fans of the game and esports betting UK can tune into The International; the annual tournament held by the game’s developer Valve.
With the last prize pool standing at a whopping $34 million, it’s no surprise that both gamers and gamblers love this worldwide phenomenon of an esport!
Esport betting markets for DOTA include:
- Outright winner: the same as match-up winner. Choose which team you think will win the game or tournament and place your bet
- First blood: predict which team will get the first kill of a Hero
- Map total: bet on how many maps will be played by a team in one game
There are lots of other betting markets too. And with a little research, you can have a completely immersive experience with one of the most popular esports games around.
League of Legends
One of the other top esports on Earth is League of Legends. Since its release in 2009, this MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) game continues to capture the world’s imagination, with players going head to head as different ‘champions’ defending their part on the map.
With over 150 champions to embody, this game offers players a wide variety of experiences. And with 12 regional leagues operating throughout the year, it’s a great game to bet on at esports betting sites.
Popular betting markets for League of Legends include:
- First blood: predict who will get the first kill of the game
- Match duration: one of the unique quirks of LoL is that there aren’t fixed match times. So bettors can wager on how long a match lasts before a team is defeated
- First to take Baron: this refers to Baron Nashor, one of the central monsters that teams must defeat. Predict which team will take the Baron first and place your bet
As with other esports, there are lots of great betting markets and each bookies will offer a selection of great markets to bet on.
When the first game was released in 2017, nobody could have predicted Fortnite’s overwhelming success over the next few years. Now, with over 250 million players in just about every country on the planet, this series of games now offers multiple versions, such as Fortnite: Save the World and Fortnite: Battle Royale. The latter of which can involve up to 100 players, in a last-man-standing fight format.
Fornite’s success is due to a mix of fun gameplay and lots of variations. Battle zombie-like creatures and defend your tower in Fortnite: Save the World. Or build your own worlds and battle arenas in Fortnite: Creative. The possibilities to bet and play are endless!
Some of the most popular betting markets on Fortnite include:
- Outright winner: choose your favourite player to win the game
- First kill and most kills: choose who will get either the first kill, or the most overall throughout a game
- Prop bets: select the top 3 winners of a game, or winner by region etc.
Because Fortnite tends to be a 1-player game, some players have become celebrities. And bookies will give great odds when these top players enter a major tournament.
What to look for in esports betting sites
When it comes to esports betting sites, there are 2 main types: esports-first sites, that are dedicated to esport games primarily. These sites may also offer other sportsbook in addition to esports.
And then there are esports-second sites, which offer esports bets alongside regular sports bets as well.
Whichever type of bet site you choose, you should make sure that they have the following:
✅ Large selection of esports
First up, you want to make sure that the site you’re on offers a wide range of e sports betting across lots of games.
Make sure they offer the major titles, like Dota 2, League of Legends and Fortnite: Battle Royale. So that you have lots of opportunities and betting markets on all the big games, leagues and tournaments.
✅ Free bets and bonuses
Some sites will offer free bets and bonuses to their customers. Although betting on esports has been around for years, it’s only recently that bookmakers have got up to speed. And that means they’re looking for new customers all the time, and are prepared to offer some pretty sweet deals in order to entice you in.
So, look out for sites that offer things like a free bet when you sign up. Or deposit bonuses, where the bookies will give you bonus cash to bet with as a reward for making a deposit with them.
Also be on the lookout for sites that offer loyalty programs. These will give you more rewards for your continued custom. Generally speaking, these bookies will usually be the more established esports-second sites, which have a history of offering bonuses and rewards.
Esports-first sites, like CSGO betting sites for example, may not be so generous as they haven’t been around for as long.
✅ Payment options
Whether you’re playing at a traditional online bookies or an esports-first site, you want to be sure you can make a deposit and withdraw your winnings quickly and easily.
So, look for sites that offer a wide range of payment options, including debit cards, e-wallets like Skrill, Neteller and Paypal. You can also find some betting sites offering pay-by-mobile options.
✅ Streaming and In-play betting options
Esports are action packed, so you want a site that offers live streaming and in-play bets. For example, CSGO gambling sites will let players watch the game from the comfort of their PC, laptop or mobile phone. And will allow you to make bets while the games are in play.
Just be aware that, depending on the nature of the game or bet, some wagers won’t be accepted after the game has started.
✅ UK License
As with any gambling, UK esports sites are licensed and regulated by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC). Therefore, as a UK resident, we recommend only playing on licensed UKGC sites, to keep yourself safe at all times.
Spotting a legit site is easy. Simply look for the UKGC logo, which will be clearly displayed in either the header or footer of the website.
Bonuses and promotions for esports betting
Esports promos can be extremely lucrative, and a savvy gambler will always make use of as many bonus offers as possible.
They’re a great way to enjoy bets for free and possibly add loads of extra bonus cash to your balance.
As top esports are offered by some of the larger gambling operators as well, you sometimes find deals that can be used across a range of wagering products. This could include sports or casino bonuses, for example.
Other sites are devoted purely to the gaming genre and will have promos that are specific to that niche.
Here’s a quick look at some of the bonuses you can expect to get your hands on right now.
Free bets no deposit
One of the best deals you can find is the free bet bonus that doesn’t require you to make a deposit.
It’s a risk free way to enjoy the action and gives you a chance to try out a new site before you commit.
These types of promos aren’t usually the most valuable in a monetary sense as there is nothing to guarantee that you will spend your own cash at that site. For this reason, there has to be a certain amount of damage limitation for the operator.
This type of offer is a big favourite in the regular sports betting realm and it makes sense that it has made its way to esports as well.
Free bets with deposit requirements
If you want to see a bigger bonus come your way, then you could look for one that requires a deposit first. Gambling operators are far more generous in this instance as there’s some financial commitment on the players part too.
This type of bonus may come in two main forms. Firstly, it may be necessary to make a bet and then get an equal amount of credit back if you lose. The second, and most favoured, is where the site simply hands you a free credit to place a bet after making your deposit. If you win, then that’s great news. Moreover, if you lose, then it doesn’t cost you a penny and your own money is still available to do with as you wish.
Aside from the regular promotions that appear on esports and other gambling sites, you may also come across some deals that are very esports-specific.
These offers could be applicable for certain gaming events or contests, for example.
If there is a big tournament coming up, then you might see operators creating a special promo that coincides with the start date. A COD (Call of Duty) cup or Rainbow Six league is the perfect opportunity to bring in new fans to a betting site. Therefore, you should always keep your ear to the ground when these new events occur.
You don’t want to miss out on some top freebies.
Terms and conditions
All betting bonuses come with rules. As we mentioned before, the operator needs to cover their financial outlay and they do this by stipulating various conditions.
It could be that winnings from free wagers are paid out in credit rather than cash. This means that you can only use the money on the same site rather than going elsewhere.
You might also find that the amount that can be won from a bonus bet has a limit. This is fairly common with other types of gambling promotions. It allows the bookie to plan financially for certain scenarios.
Another popular caveat is a wagering requirement. In this scenario, you must gamble any bonus cash you receive a fixed number of times. After that, you can collect any winnings that remain.
Whatever the rules may be, they must be clearly stated in the terms and conditions. And this is why you should only play at sites that hold the correct licence. If you decide to play at an unregulated site based offshore, then you can’t guarantee that these details will be correctly explained.
Getting started with esports betting
If you’re new to the world of esports wagers, then there’s plenty to think about before placing a bet.
As with any time of gambling, you’ll want to do your homework and make sure that you find the perfect solution to suit your requirements. It’s not a one-size-fits all affair and what works for other people may not necessarily be right for you.
Here are a few of the biggest things to consider before coughing up the cash and taking a punt.
Compare esports betting sites
Comparing the different sites is an absolute must. Never go in head first and start placing bets without seeing what the competition has to offer.
Some operators spend vast amounts of money on creating an awesome UX and genuinely take the customers needs into consideration. On the other hand, some of the less-scrupulous firms are just about the profit and nothing else.
We study all of these sites carefully and only present you with the very best. We run a tight ship and you can feel confident that we look at every aspect of our partner sites. Feel free to use our lists to compare all the key factors that are important to you.
Make use of promotions
One of the best ways to try esport betting without risking too much of your own money is by utilising bonuses.
As competition grows, so too do the deals. And given that the esports world is experiencing huge growth, it seems likely that these promos will soar as well.
Check out the various offers available and see which ones you like the most. Check the T&Cs to make sure you understand the rules and then you’re good to go.
And remember, you can always join more than one site. As a result, you can score several valuable deals at the same time.
Bet on the games that you know and like
This is an important aspect of gambling that many people overlook. It’s not only about the money; it’s entertaining as well.
Betting on a niche that you have an interest in not only helps to enhance your experience. Furthermore, it gives you an edge when making your bet selections as well. Knowledge of the topic is a valuable asset and you can use it to great effect.
Some people place wild wagers without really knowing what they’re doing. Stick to what you know and you can avoid this scenario.
If you’re into CS:GO, for example, then you want to try something like CSGO Roulette. You already have a love for the game so why not potentially score some profitable wins too?
Find value bets
One way to get an advantage over the competition is to shop around for the best prices. Betting sites will all present odds in the same ballpark, but the slightest difference can mean a big opportunity for gamblers.
By researching prices before placing a bet will help maximise gains when you win a bet. It might sound obvious, but why place a wager that can net you £10 profit, when another could return £15?
This is where signing up to several sites can really come in handy.
Betting on esports on mobile
One of the fastest and most convenient ways to get to all of the action is to use a mobile device.
The vast majority of betting sites will offer the opportunity to take all of the gambling entertainment with you while on the move.
It’s just as good as using your laptop or PC but with the added convenience of not having to stay at home when you gamble.
Some gambling providers will give you the option of downloading a specific application.
The app will save all necessary data to your device and you can access it in just one click.
The beauty of playing on a sports betting app like this is that it has been designed specifically for mobiles. It offers unparalleled entertainment and it’s super fast as well.
Browser based betting sites
Alternatively, you can simply access the betting website by your mobile’s browser. It does add an extra step to proceedings but it is only a matter of clicking on your mobile browser and typing in the betting site web address.
Mobile optimised sites like these are recognisable in that they appear exactly the same as the full scale website. There will be a few tweaks here and there to make sure that everything appears naturally on smaller screens.
New UK esports bookmakers in 2023
We have a superb list of all the latest and greatest esports sites available on the net.
Simply take a look at our list of trusted providers and decide where you would like to create an account. They all offer a fantastic opportunity to get involved with this specific type of sports gambling.
Some sites dedicate their service to this form of betting. Creating a site solely for the purpose of providing e sports bets, is perfect if you specialize in e-sports.
The advantage of using these sites is that you will not be distracted by loads of information about all the sports that you are not interested in.
But the downside is that there might be fewer markets available as the operator is much smaller than some of the other more general bookmakers.
Betting on esports through a standard bookmaker
Standard bookmakers will not only offer esports but also a range of other fantastic sports as well.
Using a general operator like these will provide you with many more opportunities if you are interested in an array of sports entertainment.
However, there will probably be fewer markets available for esports fans.
Deposit and withdrawal methods for esports gambling
Getting your money moving is incredibly important. Once you have decided what bet you wish to place, then you want to get your cash into your account as soon as possible.
Debit cards are one of the safest and easiest ways to make a payment. The cash comes directly from your bank account and lands instantly in your betting account.
Withdrawals are also possible. Although these may take a couple of days to take effect.
And most bookmakers will not charge you for using this form of payment.
PayPal provides a fantastic service for those looking to get cash from one place to another and in a range of currencies too.
You can have the money come directly from your PayPal account. Or alternatively, link your debit card to your Paypal account.
It is incredibly fast and secure as well. Both deposit and withdrawals are possible and should happen pretty instantly.
Skrill appeared around the turn of the century to assist buyers and businesses alike.
You are able to top up your account with funds from your bank or another source. Or you can receive money from other people as well. This includes cash in various currencies.
Payments are instant and there shouldn’t be any fees for using this service. However, Skrill charges you 1% to top funds up into your account.
This product is extremely similar to Skrill. It was created around the same time and provides the same service.
You can add money to your account and send it off anywhere you need in the world. The payments are instant and super secure.
There is a fee of 2.5% to top your account up. But the difference with this product is that you can generally make much higher transactions. So if you are a high roller, then this could be the payment product for you.
Bank wire transfer
Making a payment by bank transfer is extremely secure but not the fastest method available.
At the cashier section, you can select the transfer option and you will receive details for the betting site bank account.
Simply enter these into your internet banking and make the payment to them. Money will take a few days to arrive in your account.
Keep an eye out for sites that offer instant transfers. These are very similar to standard transfers but a third party will speed the process up for you. Bear in mind that there will be a fee for using this kind of product.
Here are a few popular questions that fans ask us on the esport gambling topic.