Betting on sports has always been big business in the United States. Sports bettors in Las Vegas wagered $4.8 billion in 2017. And while the exact amount is debated, the illegal betting market in America is worth billions of dollars annually, too.
Now take that鈥nd add esports to it.
Esports is a huge industry in its own right. It鈥檚 worth more than $224 million annually in the United States, and experts predict that it鈥檒l reach $1.5 billion globally by the year 2020. Mixing it with online betting is akin to making a Molotov cocktail.
You can be a part of that explosive growth right now too by betting on your favorite esports games. The first step to getting started is to join a recommended sportsbook 鈥?such as the ones in the list below.
|Rank||Betting Site||Deposit Bonus||Get Started|
|50% Up To $1,000||Visit Site|
|50% Up To $1,000||Visit Site|
|50% Up To $500||Visit Site|
|100% Up To $1,000||Visit Site|
It鈥檚 important that you strongly consider our recommendations above. We have decades of combined experience in the industry. We know an excellent sportsbook when we see one.
That said, we鈥檇 understand if you were skeptical and wanted more information before you make a decision. That鈥檚 why we talk more about how to choose an esports bookmaker later in this guide.
Before we get to that, though, we want to take a few minutes to talk about the current betting laws in the United States. Just recently, a law was overturned which makes it possible for states to pass their own betting laws.
This doesn鈥檛 mean it鈥檚 legal for you to bet 鈥?not yet, anyways. It depends on your state鈥檚 laws. We talk about that and more in the following section.
We have great news and鈥kay news.
The great news is that in May 2018, the Supreme Court determined that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) was unconstitutional.
The PASPA effectively outlawed sports betting across the United States. There were a few exceptions 鈥?states like Oregon, Nevada, and New Jersey 鈥?that were given roughly a year from the date PASPA went into effect (January 1st, 1993) to pass their own sports betting laws.
New Jersey failed to do this and spent the next 25 years trying to get it overturned.
In 2011, they came close. New Jersey voters voted in favor of a state constitutional amendment that would allow sports betting. The following year, they enacted a law that would allow sports betting at New Jersey鈥檚 casinos and racetracks.
However, this law was challenged by several organizations that included the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and NCAA. These sports organizations feared that legal betting would affect the integrity of the game. They argued that New Jersey鈥檚 2012 law violated the PASPA.
New Jersey tried again in 2014 by passing a law that repealed the former state law banning sports betting. Similar organizations filed suit against this law and won, so New Jersey asked the US Supreme Court to take the case.
They did, and as the saying goes, the rest is history.
These changes in the law might mean something. They might mean nothing.
We鈥檙e not trying to be mysterious, but the truth of the matter is that while the PASPA being overturned is a good thing, it doesn鈥檛 mean much until your state passes its own sports betting legislation.
That includes New Jersey, Nevada, West Virginia, Delaware, and Mississippi.
There are a few states where recent bills have been passed 鈥?New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. They鈥檙e on the cusp of having betting legalized or illegalized. But nothing鈥檚 in effect yet.
As for everyone else 鈥?either bills have been introduced or no progress has been made at all. For these states, it can be years before sports betting is made legal/illegal in these states. Maybe longer.
You can see a state sports betting bill tracker at ESPN. This will show you which states have passed bills, which states have introduced bills, and who鈥檚 not doing anything at all.
Ultimately, if you鈥檙e in one of the states that have legalized sports betting, you can go to your nearest casino or online and make bets now. But there鈥檚 no guarantee they take action on esports matches.
If you can鈥檛 officially bet legally, or you can but can鈥檛 find a sportsbook that offers esports betting, then you have two options to choose from.
This is the only other option you have if you want to bet online for real money. It鈥檚 not explicitly legal for you to do this, but it鈥檚 not exactly ILLEGAL, either. Not in most states, anyway. The laws relating to offshore gambling sites are typically targeted at the operators of those sites, not the people who use them.
You will have several bookmakers to choose from if you go this route. Nearly all of them will offer action on esports matches. You can read our reviews to see which sportsbook will be the best fit for you.
You may face challenges, with banking being the most common. However, if you have Bitcoin or are willing to buy Bitcoin (or other cryptocurrencies), then you can side-step the most common banking issues American gamblers have.
We talk more about Bitcoin including the benefits to using it later on in this guide.
Another option is to join a betting site that offers the option to bet for free. One example of this is Unikrn.com.
They have their own cryptocurrency which you can buy, win, or receive and use to bet on their website. You can use their crypto to win more of their UnikrnSilver, UnikrnGold tokens, or win prizes such as game skins.
You can bet here for real money, too, or will be able to soon once they have their licenses sorted out.
You can read our Unikrn.com review for more details.
However, what鈥檚 tricky about real money betting here is that you can only bet on esports matches where the participants are 18 years or older.
A small hurdle, sure. But Unikrn.com has to sort that on their end. And it鈥檚 not something you should let bother you if you want to bet on esports, especially if offshore betting isn鈥檛 a viable option for you.
Here are our thoughts.
If you want to bet esports, your best option really is to join an offshore betting site. You鈥檒l have an excellent selection of betting markets, plenty of promotions and banking options to choose from, and you can win real money.
Winning real money is far more fun than winning tokens.
However, we recommend you know your local laws before you move forward to reduce/eliminate the chances of you having to deal with any unwanted consequences.
Assuming you鈥檙e good to go, the next section will discuss how to find the best esports bookmaker to join.
It鈥檚 important that you take your time when choosing a betting site to join. This goes for any sportsbook 鈥?it doesn鈥檛 matter if you鈥檙e betting basketball or esports, or if you鈥檙e betting at offshore sites or legal sites.
Every site is different. Research is key to finding the right one.
It is especially important for offshore sites because there鈥檚 an increased risk you take on when you join one of these sites. They can steal from you, take months to pay you, or offer unfair action.
The worst part is that there鈥檚 little, if anything, you can do about it since they鈥檙e not located within the United States. Anything you could do would likely be economically impractical.
We don鈥檛 say all this to scare you. It鈥檚 just important that you know what the risks are. Telling you this scary stuff might also encourage you to take the following steps more seriously.
So, how do you reduce your risk of joining a cruddy casino? The first thing we recommend you do is check for the non-negotiables.
We recommend you avoid ANY unlicensed bookmakers.
You might also want to avoid bookies that have had their licenses suspended or revoked at any time, unless they鈥檝e subsequently demonstrated that they can be trusted.
You read forums to see what other customers think about betting sites.
This allows you to make sure the sportsbook is paying their customers quickly and treating them fairly.
This might be hard to determine if you don鈥檛 know what to look for.
A couple of things you want to look for include low bonus playthroughs, reasonable banking limits, and other player-friendly terms. Our reviews also cover this information.
You鈥檒l have to find this information out firsthand by testing their support, reading forums, or reading our reviews. The goal is to make sure their support is quick to respond and competent in answering your questions.
You鈥檙e unlikely to have a good experience, and that鈥檚 the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario could be that you get ripped off or cheated in some way.
Those are the basics you want to look for. The fundamentals. The non-negotiables. If a sportsbook meets these requirements, then you can move on to the esports stuff.
Here are some of the things we recommend you look for.
There are so many esports games out there. However, some sportsbooks only cover a few of them 鈥?League of Legends, Overwatch, StarCraft II, Dota 2, and Heroes of the Storm being the most popular.
You might have to dig to find the bookmakers that offer action on the less popular games.
Some of the best esports bookmakers have Twitch streams embedded into their site. This can be useful for watching esports events you want to bet on.
Most times, you don鈥檛 even have to have an account to watch them.
Many sportsbooks offer game data that includes wins/losses/ties, individual player scores, and more.
This information can be invaluable if used correctly. Analyze it properly and it can lead to you making better betting decisions.
Some sportsbooks offer the ability to bet on esports matches live as the action unfolds.
Live betting opens up a whole new range of betting opportunities, and be very profitable if approached in the right way.
You鈥檒l find that some sportsbooks offer the minimum 鈥?things like spread betting, moneylines, to win, and so on.
However, other bookmakers offer additional markets such as who will win a map, who will get the first kill, group winner, over/unders, and more.
The more you can say yes to the questions above, the better the sportsbook will be. Some of this is bettor-dependent, of course. You could find a sportsbook most people think sucks, but you鈥檒l love their markets or the fact that they offer NBA 2K lines when no else does.
If you have any other questions about what a sportsbook covers, shoot them an email and test their support. You can also read our reviews.
And that wraps up just about everything you need to know about choosing a sportsbook. There is one last thing we want to talk about, which is banking. Banking is usually a pain in the butt for American bettors.
The following section provides a solution you might want to try.
One of the challenges American gamblers face is banking. Thanks to the UIGEA, banks aren鈥檛 supposed to process payments to/from illegal and/or offshore sites.
This results in a bunch of headaches. Your payment may be declined. Or the sportsbook will struggle to pay you. Then, when they do finally pay you, your bank declines the payment, or the check doesn鈥檛 clear.
There is a solution to these challenges, though. You can use Bitcoin instead of traditional payment methods.
We鈥檙e not going to dig too deep into what Bitcoin is. There are guides on our site that covers Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in more detail.
The short version is that Bitcoin is a decentralized currency. This means that there鈥檚 no one (such as the government) making rules for how you can use it. It鈥檚 a peer-to-peer (me-to-you) currency. This means there are no middlemen.
There are several benefits to using Bitcoin (to gamble online).
You don鈥檛 need to create an account or give anyone your information before you buy, sell, use, or invest in Bitcoin. This means no one (including friends, family, government, etc.) will know how you鈥檙e using it, which includes gambling online.
You won鈥檛 have to give the gambling site your personal details, either.
It鈥檚 important to note that anonymity is only available if you join Bitcoin-only gambling sites. These are betting and gaming sites that ONLY accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as payment. If you join a hybrid site 鈥?one that accepts both crypto and fiat currencies 鈥?then anonymity won鈥檛 be a benefit.
It鈥檚 cheaper for sportsbooks to accept Bitcoin since there are no 3rd parties to deal with. They鈥檙e not paying processing fees that they would otherwise be paying for processing fiat currencies.
Some bookmakers pass these savings on to their customers, resulting in lower vig on the betting lines.
Bookmakers have to worry about chargebacks from debit/credit card users.
However, that鈥檚 not an issue with Bitcoin since you can鈥檛 do a chargeback. Since there鈥檚 no risk, some sportsbooks will accept higher deposit and betting limits.
Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer currency, which means there鈥檚 no middleman to deal with. Every transaction goes directly to the recipient without making any stops along the way. T
his means you鈥檒l receive your cash-outs in 15-60 minutes. That鈥檚 much better than the 1-7 days you would usually have to wait for other payment methods.
Again, there鈥檚 no payment processor handling your money, so there are no fees for the sportsbook to pass onto you. You might have a small fee to pay from the blockchain (for processing the payment), but it鈥檚 peanuts when compared to the high fees that many bookmakers charge for cash-outs.
Those are the biggest reasons. The benefits are hard to beat. What鈥檚 more is that there are hardly any downsides to using Bitcoin.
We recommend you read the guides above to learn more about Bitcoin, why you should use it, and how you can get started today.
One question we鈥檝e seen time and time again is whether esports should be considered a real sport. How can sitting on your couch or in a comfy leather chair playing video games be considered a sport?
But you鈥檇 be surprised. The following are several reasons why or how playing video games is no different than playing sports like basketball or baseball and thus should be considered a legitimate sport.
Esports are strategic. Professionals can spend hours practicing to perform a specific move or shot better. Then there鈥檚 the stress from the matches themselves. All of this can make your heart beat harder/faster as if you were exercising.
Not only that, but the hours spent practicing and the stress from competitions can wear players down mentally and have an effect on their reflexes, decision-making skills, and memory.
Many gamers report spending 10-15 hours per day practicing. Some practice even more than that.
They spend all this time practicing so that they can develop their skills in the one game they decided to master.
This is no different than a professional basketball player. In order for them to stay on top of their game, they need to practice regularly. The phrase 鈥渦se it or lose it鈥?applies here.
It鈥檚 no different for professional gamers.
They spend all that time perfecting their jump shots, head shots, or finishing moves.
Pit a player who practices like a professional against someone who plays for fun, and the player who takes the game seriously will come out ahead.
This applies to esports just as much as it does basketball.
This, too, is like other sports. Look at any other sport or event, and you鈥檒l see two or more people competing against each other while we all watch.
Esports tournaments are no different. Players and teams compete against each other for cash prizes. We all watch them, too. It鈥檚 estimated that more than 427 million people will watch esports by the year 2019.
What鈥檚 more is that there are special stadiums or arenas being built to host these matches. These will have areas for spectators to sit, watch, and cheer their favorite players and teams on.
Other countries have already begun to recognize professional gamers as athletes. For example, in the United States, pro gamers can get P-1 visas. These are typically given to athletes (like basketball or football players).
The South Korean Air Force has their own esports team for professional gamers who had to come in to do their mandatory military service.
A good example is Olof Kajbjer Gustafsson, whose screen name is olofmeister. He鈥檚 a Swedish professional gamer considered to be one of the best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players in the world. He currently plays for FaZe Clan.
In April 2016, he announced that he was going to take a short break from competitive play due to a repetitive strain injury on his hand. This is no different than someone twisting an ankle, dealing with ACL injuries, or any kind of overuse injury that athletes experience.
Gamers can experience many other injuries, too, ranging from carpal tunnel to neck and shoulder pain due to injuries sustained from bad posture.
This along with the other reasons above are probably some of the better arguments that support the idea that esports is an athletic endeavor.
There are other minor arguments, too. For example, there are players who cheat or fix matches. Then there鈥檚 the fact that esports might make the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France. Then you have the professional athlete-like earnings. American professional gamers have gained more than $81 million in earnings. Some of the top players in the sport have amassed more than $4 million in individual earnings.
Then there鈥檚 the fact that you can bet on esports.
The bottom line 鈥?no matter how you look at it, esports is similar to sports like basketball, hockey, tennis, or soccer. The biggest difference is that you鈥檙e trading a ball for a controller and a field or court for a chair in a room.
Esports is a huge industry. It鈥檚 going to be a billion-dollar industry within the next few years. Add betting to the mix, and it鈥檚 like throwing gas on the fire.
If you want to get in on the action and start betting on esports yourself, the fastest and safest way is to join one of the recommended sportsbooks above. They have the best selection of esports betting options, offers, banking options, and more.
Just scroll back to the top, choose a bookmaker, and you鈥檒l be making bets before you know it.