Legal eSports Betting Guide
Participation in eSports betting is skyrocketing in 2020 thanks to massive player bases in the United States and around the world for the best multiplayer video games. Some of the most popular titles include games like CS:GO, Dota 2, League of Legends, Fortnite, Overwatch, Madden, NBA 2K, and Rocket League, among many others.
During the 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic and the lack of “real” sports to wager on, online sportsbooks began offering more eSports betting odds on major tournaments and events. Now, with quarantines lifted and life returning to normal, a whole new swath of gamblers has discovered just how fun eSports betting can be.
If you’re an eSports n00b, don’t worry. In our legal eSports betting guide, we review the best eSports betting sites, discuss applicable US gambling laws, and explain the differences between real-money wagering and skin betting. So check out our quick breakdown, load out, and level up!
Is it legal to bet on eSports?
Following the repeal of PASPA in May 2018, a handful of states have chosen to enact legal sports betting legislation. In most US states, eSports betting is not explicitly banned, but it is not included on the list of approved betting markets, either, and is therefore mostly unavailable domestically.
Fortunately, there are no federal laws that prevent US players from gambling at the top eSports betting sites overseas, and all the pages listed here are the best in the business. Unless you live in WA or CT – which have specific mandates barring all online gambling – you can safely and legally sign up with these offshore sportsbooks. (While the WA and CT laws are unenforced and all sites accept players from both, we nevertheless insist that you follow all local gambling laws.)
Bovada Sportsbook #1 USA Betting Site
50% Sports Welcome Bonus Up To $250
If you’re just getting started betting on eSports games, Bovada Sportsbook is the best option for new players. As the most popular online betting site in the US, Bovada caters to every sporting market, including eSports. Here, you’ll find eSports odds on just about every major tournament in the world, and the market is active all year long.
- Licensed and regulated out of Costa Rica under the Bodog brand
- Most eSports betting lines anywhere
- Live eSports betting
- Mobile-optimized for Android and iPhone betting
- Full sportsbook, racebook, casino, and poker room
- Bitcoin accepted + same-day payouts
- 18+ minimum betting age to join
- Residents of DE, MD, NJ, NV not accepted
- Fewer deposit options than some other sites
Best eSports Betting Sites For 2020
While many online sportsbooks advertise eSports odds, most books you’ll find on the Internet are unreliable, too new to trust, or have bad ratings within the betting community.
If you want to bet on eSports in an exciting, fair, and streamlined environment and get your payouts on time and in full, you’ll need to pick from only the best eSports betting sites. We’ve got them all listed right here, and each one is worth checking out to shop lines for the most attractive odds on eSports games.
US States With Legal eSports Betting
To date (mid-2020), only a few US states have explicitly mentioned eSports betting in their sports betting legislation: Indiana, Colorado, and Tennessee.
Indiana – Indiana is so far the only US state to outright ban domestic eSports betting, presumably because of fears surrounding gambling addiction and the misguided idea that eSports gaming is marketed to children or minors. We hope that Indiana will see the potential and popularity of the eSports betting market and reconsider the law. This ban does not extend to online esports betting sites operating outside of the US, such as the ones listed here.
Colorado – In CO, local eSports betting is allowed by law, provided that the contests are sanctioned by a licensed league, overseen by an appropriate governing body, and the participants themselves are at least 18 years old. The last requirement – given the fact that some of the world’s best eSports players are minors – could be a dealbreaker for sportsbooks in the state. CO residents are not prohibited from betting on esports at online sportsbooks.
Tennessee – TN, the only US state with exclusively online gambling, allows for online eSports betting, as well. As long as the games in question are reliant on the skills of the professional gamers at the helm, TN sportsbooks can offer a full selection of eSports gambling. In addition, Tennesseans can access the top legal esports betting sites we feature above.
Other States – In all other US states, eSports betting is neither approved nor disapproved legally. Those states with legalized domestic sportsbooks may be bound to offer only a selection of explicitly outlined sports, but there is nothing stopping their gaming commissions from adding eSports games to the approved list. Of course, you don’t have to wait, because to enjoy betting eSports, sportsbooks operating offshore are safe and legal to use. (Please note the above exceptions for WA and CT.)
eSports Online Betting
Online eSports betting is the chief way that gamblers can get access to eSports odds. The best US esports betting sites all operate over the Internet from offshore jurisdictions, allowing them to legally take action from American bettors (and other international punters).
Every site recommended here has been in the sportsbook business for years and has established itself as a real market leader. When you bet eSports online, you
eSports Betting Types Explained
The rules of betting for eSports – and the types of eSports bets on offer – mirror those for other sports markets. If you’ve ever wagered on any athletic contest, you’ll know what to expect. All the US eSports betting sites listed here offer the following general eSports odds and lines.
Straight Moneyline eSports Bets – In eSports, straight bets are usually called “Match Winner” bets, and you simply pick which team you think will win the contest, straight up.
Point Spread eSports Bets – Also called the “Advantage” wager, this eSports bet works just like a typical point spread. The favorite has to win by a given point margin for a wager to pay out, while the loser can lose by the same margin and still be a winner at the sportsbook.
Totals eSports Bets (Over/Unders) – eSports over/unders are just like any other kind of O/U bet. Over/unders will be accepted on things like total kills for individual players and teams, total points scored between both teams in a given match, and so on. This should be familiar to all sports bettors.
eSports Prop Bets – eSports props include things like “First Blood” (the team to score or kill an enemy combatant first), the first team to rack up a certain number of game wins within a larger match, and more. Legal online sportsbooks can get creative with eSports props, so always check out the boards before wagering. You might find an Easter egg or two!
eSports Futures Bets – Futures bets include wagering on tournament winners, MVP award recipients, and more. Just like betting on the Super Bowl, you can place a futures wager on the team to win the Dota 2 International and other major championships several months out from the events themselves.
eSports Live Betting
Live betting, also called in-game betting, is the most immersive way to wager on eSports (and all other sports markets). Instead of putting your bets in before the contests get underway, live eSports betting allows you to wager on dynamic odds that shift in real-time while the games are being played.
In-game eSports betting lets gamblers recover bad pregame bets, double down on good wagers, and make small side bets all game long on various eSports player and team props. Live betting on eSports is the closest you can get to the action without being a pro-level player yourself.
Mobile eSports Betting
While there are many eSports titles that can be played via mobile, you can also place mobile eSports bets on the entire market, regardless of the platforms involved. Many eSports are played on consoles like PlayStation and Xbox, though the majority are played on PC.
Fortunately, you don’t need a PC or Mac (or even a desktop or laptop computer) when betting on mobile devices. You don’t even need an eSports betting app! All you need is a modern mobile device, an Internet connection, and a membership at any of the reputable eSports betting sites (eSportsbooks?) listed here.
Each site operates a dedicated web app that conforms to fit any iPhone, iPad, Android phone, or other tablet, and you’ll get a pixel-perfect touchscreen betting experience every time. Best of all, offshore eSports betting sites aren’t geofenced, so you can bet on video games from anywhere in the US, 24/7/365.
What Is eSports Skin Betting?
In eSports, skin betting is a type of gambling that gamers themselves engage in. Because so many online multiplayer games have cosmetic features that players can earn or purchase – and which vary widely in rarity and value – many games allow their participants (both professional and amateur) – to wager skins.
Skin betting is a feature of these video games themselves, and it is not something an online eSports betting site supports. If you want to bet eSports skins, you have to actually play the games to do so.
eSports Betting Tips
If you want to make the best eSports betting predictions, there are a few tips you can use as part of your overall strategy. This eSports betting guide is by no means a complete list of all the possible strategies at your disposal, but it should help you stay ahead of the curve whenever you bet money on eSports online.
- Familiarize yourself with the players of each game and learn their strengths and weaknesses. Because most eSports tournaments are streamed and recorded online, you can access past contests for free (via Twitch, YouTube, etc.) whenever you need to brush up on the action. Research is your friend when picking the best eSports odds!
- Learn the games you’re betting on. As with football betting or basketball betting, you wouldn’t put money on something you know nothing about. If you’re not a gamer, the learning curve might be steep, but it’s worth it.
- Consider the venue. Many eSports tournaments take place in giant auditoriums with tens of thousands of cheering spectators in the stands, while others take place strictly online. Some teams have “home-field advantage” when playing before a live audience, which doesn’t factor into the latter mode of play. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
- Consult past eSports betting statistics. You can use several different online resources (including this one!) to research past eSports odds for various events. Use this information to your advantage to place informed bets.
- Follow eSports betting news. eSports betting is a popular market – the fastest growing gambling market on earth, in fact. As such, there are plenty of outlets that cover eSports news and eSports odds every single day. Use these to stay updated and keep your bankroll topped off.
Top 10 For 2020
No online eSports betting guide would be complete without a rundown of the biggest eSports games. Bettors in this market need to have a cursory understanding of the games they’re wagering on, and understanding the best eSports games is crucial to any gambling success. These are the most popular eSports titles currently being played at the international level:
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, or CS:GO, is a first-person shooter (FPS) and is the most popular eSports game by tournament earnings. All the sportsbooks listed here are dedicated CSGO sports betting sites, and you’ll get plenty of eSports odds and props on this world-beating FPS. CS:GO tournaments pay out more than $10 million per year over the course of several hundred events.
Developed by Valve, Dota 2 – short for “Defense of the Ancients” – is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) title, and it’s the second most popular eSports game on earth. There are over 100 annual Dota 2 tournaments, culminating in the end-of-the-year International, which garners more viewers than the Super Bowl. The Dota 2 International tournament alone paid out nearly $20 million in 2019. You’ll find the best Dota 2 odds at the sites listed here.
Rainbow Six Siege
Rainbow Six Siege has been an eSports FPS staple for years, and it currently ranks as the third highest paying title on the tournament circuit. Published by Ubisoft, there are dozens of annual Rainbow Six tournaments, with prize pools totaling in the several millions of dollars. For Rainbow Six betting odds, all you need to do is visit one of the recommended sportsbooks on this page. Just be discreet – this is a sneaking mission, remember!
League of Legends
League of Legends (Riot Games), colloquially called LOL, is the fourth most popular eSport going. LOL eSports betting odds are available at every major legal online sportsbook, and you can win real money if you pick the winners whenever gambling on this MOBA. Just don’t bet on a loser, because LOL notwithstanding, losing your bankroll is no laughing matter.
Fortnite, developed by Epic Games, wasn’t the first of the “battle royale” genre to make a splash, but it certainly made the biggest one. Fortnite is one of the most popular video games of all time, and on the eSports circuits, it’s shot up the boards very quickly since its 2017 release. The game is the fifth most popular title in terms of prize money, and you can win plenty money of your own betting on Fortnite odds online.
PUBG – short for PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS – is a South Korean phenomenon that first breathed life into the battle royale genre, putting it on the (ever-shrinking) map. While Fortnite has surpassed the title in popularity, PUBG is still a major force on the pro gaming circuit, and PUBG eSports betting is more popular than ever.
Psyonix’ Rocket League has no genre. It’s a car-based soccer game. With rocket boosters. But it’s so quirky, competitive, and fun that it’s become a major eSports title with dozens of tournaments and millions of dollars in prize money paid out each year. Rocket League betting is just as popular as the game itself, and you can get up-to-date betting lines at any site listed here. Fun fact: The precursor to Rocket League was Psyonix’ PS3 title “Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars.” Branding, it seems, is everything.
Blizzard Entertainment is one of the biggest names in eSports, and Hearthstone is their most popular title for the professional circuit. A turn-based card game, Hearthstone is slower-paced than most of the other games on this list, and it’s contested between just two players. For those betting on Hearthstone eSports, this makes it more of a challenge, as you must be intimately familiar with the rules of the game to a larger extent than most other eSports games require.
Magic: The Gathering Arena
Developed by Wizards Digital Games Studio, this Magic: The Gathering property (aka MTG Arena) is the ninth-rated eSport of 2020. There are only a few tournaments held each year, but the payouts are huge, with upwards of $2 million in prize money being disbursed annually. Like Hearthstone, Magic: The Gathering Arena is a card game, and you’ll need to understand every spell in the book if you want to make money on MTG Arena betting.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision, is a popular FPS, and it’s the most mainstream shooter on the list. As the tenth most popular eSports game, COD: Modern Warfare also boasts a large number of gamblers who follow the action year-round. If you want to bet on Call of Duty eSports tournaments, you can do so at any of the sportsbooks we recommend. Just pick your bets (er, loadouts) appropriately!
eSports Sports Games
While eSports is a massive industry and represents the fastest-growing betting market, the majority of titles are actually not sports-themed. However, such “traditional” sports games are increasing in popularity, particularly due to the global sports lockdowns during the 2020 coronavirus outbreak. As a result, the biggest sports games in eSports are just getting bigger, and you can wager on all of them at most reputable betting sites.
Madden 21 eSports
Madden football is among the biggest names in video game sports, and it’s the biggest sports-themed eSports game for US players, fans, and bettors. The Madden series is developed by Electronic Arts’ EA Sports imprint, and Madden 21 is the newest release. By overall earnings, Madden 20 is currently ranked as the 63rd most popular eSport, and Madden 21 should dethrone it immediately upon release.
NBA 2K21 eSports
2K Sports has a slam dunk eSports hit on their hands with the NBA 2K series. As the most popular basketball eSport anywhere, even the NBA itself has invested in the game’s growing eSports market with the NBA 2K League. When NBA 2K21 launches this fall, it is primed to make waves, as the former iteration, NBA 2K20, is ranked 64th among all eSports titles on the tournament circuit.
FIFA 21 eSports
EA Sports’ FIFA 21 is the flagship version of its wildly popular sports game. The FIFA franchise is the most played sports video game series on Earth, and as an eSport, the game’s variants currently account for seven of the top 100 eSports worldwide. FIFA 19 is ranked highest at 28, with FIFA 18 (37), FIFA 17 (49), FIFA 20 (61), and FIFA 13 (93) following. EA’s FIFA Online series is also popular in the eSports marketplace, occupying three slots in the top 100. As FIFA 21 was just released (Oct. 2020), it probably won't break out onto the top list until sometime next year, but major eSports leagues and tournaments will be shifting to the newest FIFA version sooner than later.
MLB The Show 20
Developed by Sony Interactive, MLB The Show is the flagship consumer baseball video game. However, while it has an eSports presence, it is not in the top 100 in terms of tournament play or prize pools. MLB The Show 21 will come out in March 2021, so this year’s version is still the most current on the market.
NASCAR Heat 5
NASCAR Heat, developed by 704Games, is the official NASCAR racing game in the video game world. It is popular on the eSports circuit, but it’s just outside of the top 100 titles. NASCAR Heat 5 recently launched, replacing NASCAR Heat 4 as the flagship edition. Racing games are not well-represented in the eSports community, though iRacing.com ranks at 67 and features NASCAR tie-ins (but is a different product entirely).
EA Sports’ NHL series is the most popular hockey video game going, and though it isn’t particularly sought-after in the eSports market, it has plenty of avid fans and bettors. NHL 21 launches soon, and it will replace NHL 20 as the game of choice, putting the previous iteration on ice.
EA’s UFC series is one of the most recognizable fighting games on the market, but for eSports players and bettors, it is not as popular as the more traditional arcade fighters that populate the top 100 list (like Super Smash Bros. Melee, Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, etc.). UFC 4 is slated for a mid-August release, and it will replace UFC 3 with a new roster featuring all the best mixed martial artists currently with the promotion.
Characteristics of the Best Esports Betting Sites
Our eSports betting guide was built to help you understand how and where to bet on eSports. However, for peace of mind, you should also know about our process in selecting the sites we’ve included here.
Every offshore site that offers eSports betting odds needs to live up to the following standards to make the cut, as there are hundreds (if not thousands) of less trustworthy and downright illegitimate online sportsbooks out there:
- Legally licensed and regulated in a recognized gambling jurisdiction
- Regularly audited for fair play and certified iGaming compliance by governing bodies and third-party watchdogs
- Offer secure SSL/TLS encryption
- Offer mobile-optimized eSports betting options
- Plenty of betting lines covering a wide range of esports tournaments and events
- Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency support
- Multiple trustworthy banking methods for deposits and withdrawals
- Valuable eSports betting bonuses and other promotions
- Friendly promo terms and conditions
- 24/7 customer service
- Bettors aged 18+ accepted from most or all US states