Betting on esports is no longer a niche past time, with lucrative tournaments watched by millions of passionate fans across the globe. We’ve put together a list of the top esports bookmakers in the UK, with our experts particularly recommending Bet365.
The electronic sports, or simply ‘esports’ industry is among the fasting growing in the world of sport. Each esports event sees the very best professional gamers pitted against one another, competing on multiplayer video games such as Overwatch, Starcraft 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). Much like any other sport, fans flock to the bookies looking to put their esports knowledge to the test, spice up their viewing experience and of course, land a profit! Not sure where to start when it comes to betting on esports? Let us take you through everything you need to know before you head to the bookies!
The Story So Far
While the popularity of esports has skyrocketed in recent years, competitive gaming is nothing new. Players went head to head in gaming tournaments such as the Space Invaders Championship as early as the 1980s! Of course, gaming has come a long way since then, with online gameplay allowing players across the world to face off pretty much whenever and wherever they please. The turn of the millennium saw the launch of the largest esports league today – Major League Gaming, as well as the Electronic Sports World Cup.
The emergence of online streaming services like Twitch has done wonders for the popularity of esports, with millions of viewers tuning in to watch the top esports competitions. Twitch gets around 30 million viewers every day, and it’s estimated that global viewership of esports will reach a billion by 2025. Physical viewership numbers have seen a similar spike – 2013’s Season 3 League of Legends (LoL) World Championship took place in a sold-out Staples Center! With over 100 million esports fans across the globe and cash prizes in the seven-figure region, it’s safe to say esports has well and truly arrived, earning its place alongside more traditional sports like American Football. In fact, viewership for League of Legends and DOTA 2’s most prestigious tournaments, such as The International has trumped huge sporting events including the NBA Finals and MLB World Series in the past.
Esports Betting Markets
As every major tournament passes, the hype train surrounding esports only picks up speed. The prize pools become more lucrative and the view counts continue to grow at an astronomical rate. It should come as no surprise then, that a huge number of esports punters speculate on the outcomes of esports games, much like fans of football and horse racing.
Of course, any esports bettors wants to see the returns of their successful predictions. In search of potential profit, punters head to the top online betting sites, looking for wagers that return great value. The betting markets on offer vary depending on the game of your choice, however, there are a number of common options that you’ll find when betting on just about any esports game. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular esports betting markets.
- Outright betting – The outright betting markets of any sport simply allow you to place wagers on the outcome of a particular event. An example of an outright esports bet would be backing the winner of the League of Legends World Championship.
- Match result – Often referred to as the ‘money line’, placing this wager simply means betting on the outcome of a match. Here, you’ll almost always be required to choose between two individuals or teams.
- Handicap – In esports matches between two teams or individual gamers, you’ll usually find that there’s a bookmakers favourite. In other words, one side is deemed as most likely to win. In these instances, you might struggle to find good betting value. To level the playing field and attract bettors, esports betting sites place a negative handicap on the favourites and a positive handicap on the underdog.
- Totals – Commonly known as the over/under, these markets allow punters to bet on the number of specific events –such as kills or map rounds– being over or under a predetermined figure set by esports bookmakers.
Live Esports Betting
Early esports bettors were limited to pre-match betting markets, but today you can expect to find a wide range of live markets available at the best esports betting sites.
Say you’re betting live on League of Legends at Betway, for example. The bookmaker will let you wager on which team will destroy the next tower or slay the next dragon. Once that match is done, you might then switch over to DOTA 2 and bet in-play on which team will be the first to reach 5, 10, 15, or 20 kills.
Savvy punters often turn to live betting when looking for more favourable betting opportunities, depending on how a game is unfolding. It’s a good choice for esports buffs who know the games and teams well, and can feel comfortable making quick calls as the action unfolds.
Bet on Esports Action on the Go
Betting on the likes of CS:GO, Call of Duty and DOTA 2 doesn’t mean you have to be glued to your desktop computer. These days, virtually every bookmaker has a mobile-friendly website you can access through the web browser on your phone or tablet. You won’t need to install any software — all you have to do is log in and place your bets.
That said, we always recommend downloading the native mobile app, if the bookie has one available. These apps offer the extra convenience of being accessible without having to go via your browser and can offer faster functionality too. What’s more, you can enable push notifications, so you won’t have to worry about missing out on promos and bonuses.
Settle Your Bets Early
Most bookies will offer cashout on some esports markets, much like traditional sports betting. Cash out allows you to settle your bet early, claiming a portion of your winnings before the end of the event. The size of this payout will vary depending on the time elapsed and score at the time of cashing out.
In our February 2021 interview with leading iGaming software supplier EveryMatrix, Malte Hegeler, Head of Product Development OddsMatrix, shared some insight into why cash out isn’t as popular in esports as it is in traditional sports betting.
“Cashout is considerably less used in esports, where the esports ratio between cashout bets and overall stakes is half of the same ratio in traditional sports betting. That happens because cashout is much more frequent for pre-live bets, while in esports live betting has a 93% share, and things happen much faster.”
Compare Welcome Bonuses
When choosing between the best bookies that offer esports betting, the odds and betting options on offer may not vary enough to let you filter your shortlist down to just one. While you might find the best odds for an esports tournament at one bookie, there’s no guarantee they’ll offer the best esports odds for the next event, as bookies price competitively.
One deciding factor might be the welcome bonus. As its name suggests, this kind of bonus offer is reserved for new customers only and is used by just about every gambling operator to attract bettors. These bonuses come in various forms, so let’s take a quick look at the most popular.
Matched Deposit Bonus
This is where the betting site matches your first deposit to a certain percentage, up to a maximum amount. For example, an esports bookmaker may offer “100% up to £100” for new players, which means an initial deposit of £50 will give you an extra £50 to bet with.
No Deposit Bonus
Like the thought of having bonus funds waiting for you in your account, as soon as you sign up? That’s what you’ll get with a no deposit bonus, which — as you might have guessed — doesn’t require any deposit at all.
Many top betting sites will give you free bets when you sign up and deposit a minimum amount. You may also be offered “risk-free bets”, where a losing bet will see your stake refunded to you in the form of free bet credits.
Remember to always read the t&cs with any welcome bonuses. You’ll want to check if:
- Certain payment platforms, like Skrill or Neteller, are ineligible for welcome bonuses
- The bonus amount needs to be wagered a minimum number of times before you can withdraw winnings (the “wagering requirement”)
- There’s a deadline by which you have to bet the bonus or meet the wagering requirement
How to bet on esports for real money
Choose a top online bookmakerWhile esports is definitely growing in popularity, esports betting is still in its infancy. With that in mind, choosing the right online bookmaker is very important - not every sports bookie provides comprehensive coverage. Fortunately, we’ve done the legwork for you. Rather than going from one site to another looking for the best esports coverage, you can simply choose from our list of the top licensed betting sites. Our expert team has carried out research and scoured the internet to find out exactly what bettors want and which bookies cater to their needs best. All you need to do is pick your favourite esports bookie.
Sign up and deposit to claim your bonusThe hard part is over. You’ve chosen your bookmaker, now you just need to sign up. You can do this via a desktop or mobile platform. All you’ll need to do is provide some personal details like your name, phone number and email address. This is for security purposes and is standard practice at almost every betting site. With that part cleared, it’s time to make your first deposit. All the bookmakers on our list offer a variety of options ranging from cards and e-wallets to prepaid vouchers. If you’ve signed up to a bookie that offers a deposit bonus, your account should be credited immediately.
Pick an esports game and choose your marketChoose from the list of esports usually found on the home page and pick an event if you fancy a flutter. You can take your pick from ongoing tournaments or events in the near future. Once you’ve found a game or match up you like the look of, check out what markets are available. Remember, you’re not restricted to just betting on the outright winner. Delve deeper and see if you can find some value in other markets.
Live streamsSome bookmakers now offer you the option of watching live esports. So, you can watch the action unfold and watch your bets play out in real-time! Not only is this great entertainment but it also helps to develop your understanding of the sport if you’re a beginner. You might pick up some useful insight that you can put to use next time you place a bet.
Claim an Existing Player Promotion
Welcome bonuses are one thing, but how about ongoing promotions for existing members? The good news is that the top UK sportsbooks do have a regularly updated menu of promos on offer, including incentives that are specific to esports like Fortnite, Fifa and Counter Strike: Global Offensive.
Betway is a great example. It lets you opt into its “Esports Club”, which will award you a £10 free bet every week that you put at least £25 down on esports doubles, trebles or accumulators. Betway also regularly offers tournament-specific promos such as its ESL Pro League: Ace Special, where you’ll bag a free bet if an ace is scored on a match you’ve wagered on.
Meanwhile, over at dedicated esports bookmaker Midnite, you can join the Midnite Bet Club, where you’ll get a weekly £5 free bet if you place £25 acca bets with at least two legs.
Try Out a New Esports Betting Site
Some bookies, like Ladbrokes, Bet365 and 888, have been around so long they’re household names. But it’s always worth keeping an eye out for new UK betting sites, as these plucky upstarts can offer exciting new experiences. New sites may push the envelope in terms of design, and also offer generous welcome bonuses to catch the interest of bettors.
Serious esports fans may also enjoy knowing they’re part of a site that’s completely dedicated to this specific industry. Midnite and Unikrn are prominent examples of betting sites run by people who live and breathe esports. This means these bookies can provide expert tips, insights and commentary on games and tournaments, alongside a huge spread of in-depth betting markets.
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Place Your Bets
Now that we’ve taken you through the ins and outs of betting on esports titles and the various bonuses on offer, you’ll know exactly what to expect when you place bets on esports matches. Whether you’re an avid Call of Duty fan or a complete newcomer to the scene, our carefully curated list of top esports betting sites is sure to provide you with a new favourite. Once you’ve picked out an option that ticks all your boxes, all you need to do is sign up, claim your exclusive bonus and bet on esports today!
Your Questions Answered
Can I place an accumulator bet at the top esports betting sites?
Yes. To build an accumulator all you need to do is add multiple bets to your betslip. The great thing about accumulators is the potential to land huge wins from small stakes.
Why are some esports betting markets handicapped?
As with any sport, there’s often a clear favourite and an underdog. With low odds on the favourite and the low likelihood of the underdog pulling off an upset, betting sites use handicaps to level the playing field. Let’s say you’re betting on Rocket League, you can bet on your favourite with a handicap of -9.5, for example, which would require them to win by at least 10. Likewise, you can bet on the underdog with a handicap of +9.5, which would mean they need to avoid losing by more than 9.
Can I bet on esports on mobile?
Yes. Our top esports betting sites offer full support for mobile devices such as mobile phones and tablets. You’ll never need to rush home to place a bet, you can bet wherever you are.
Can I bet on esports in-play?
Yes. In-play betting is a great way to make money from a game that’s in progress, especially if you’re watching a live stream. You can assess what’s happening in the match and make your predictions on the outcome. This is a great option for players who know their stuff, as they can often read the game and predict when the tables will turn. New players can get in on the in-play action too, if you have a hunch and fancy a flutter on the team that looks down and out, you’ll be able to back them to win with esports in-play betting.
How do I win a handicap esports bet?
This depends on whether you decide to back the bookies favourite, with a negative handicap, or the underdog, with a positive handicap. To win a bet placed on the negative handicap, your pick was win by more than the handicap figure chosen by the bookie. To win a wager placed on the positive handicap, your chosen team must avoid losing by a value that is equal to or more than the handicap figure.
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