Betting on esports is a new venture for most sportsbooks. From the early days of CS:GO skins betting to some less-than-legal third party sites to now having some of the biggest betting companies in the world dipping their toes in the digital world, betting on esports has come a long way. There are plenty of questions about regulation in the world of esports betting with a history of scandals and scams littering a sketchy past.
But with last year’s American Supreme Court decision to allow sports betting to become a state decision and 11 states legalizing sports betting, esports betting is legitimizing. We will dive into that past history of esports betting in a future article. For now, let’s look at all the places a bettor can place an esports bet.
For your money, the best place to wager on esports. Unikrn has been focused on the esports betting market since the site was founded in 2014. That history in esports has allowed the site to develop the widest offering of esports opportunities. With financial backing from Mark Cuban and Ashton Kutcher among others, Unikrn has the funds to be an entirely professional organization. The site was legal in Australia and the UK but the Supreme Court decision was crucial to the growth as it allowed them to tackle the American market. In a blog post following the decision, Unkirn CEO Rahul Sood said “our dream has become real.”
Unikrn offers live betting on an absurd amount of games: League of Legends, CS:GO, Dota 2, Apex Legends, Call of Duty, Fifa, Fortnite, Hearthstone, King of Glory, NBA 2K, Overwatch, PUBG, Rainbow Six, Rocket League, Starcraft 2, Starcraft: Broodwar, Street Fighter V, Smash Bros, Teamfight Tactics, Quake, Warcraft 3, Halo 5, World of Warcraft, and Madden.
That’s 24 titles. Plus you can live bet on streamers as well. As of writing, TSM Viss is playing an Apex Legends game and live odds allow players to place bets on whether he will win or lose. It’s truly the most interesting site to use to bet on esports, and it’s available in the widest range of countries.
Unikrn users can place bets with actual money or with Unikoin Gold, the site’s cryptocurrency. Currently valued at just over a penny per UKG, the gold doesn’t hold much value right now. But during the crypto bubble of January 2018 which saw Bitcoin rise to absurd levels, Unikoin rose to about two dollars a coin. That value has clearly cratered since that point but UKG could rise again in the future. Plus, with plenty of real money offerings as well, Unikrn is the most expansive esports betting site out right now.
Americans beware, Betway is not accepting bets from any location within the US. But if you are anywhere else from Angola to the United Kingdom, there is a decent chance Betway will be a great home for esports betting. Betway is partnered with ESL Pro League, IEM, BIG, Invictus Gaming, Ninjas in Pyjamas and Made in Brazil, showing the sites clear focus on esports opportunities.
The site offers odds in League of Legends, Dota 2, CS:GO, Rainbow Six, Hearthstone, Overwatch and Call of Duty. More games are added – and sometimes taken away – all the time so that may continue to update. Still, that is almost all of the top-tier esports with some more niche titles thrown in for good measure. They may not match up to Unikrn’s offerings but Betway is an established brand and a clear partner of esports teams and leagues.
Fanduel and DraftKings
Lumping these two America-based giants together. Both operated in a legal gray-area during the previous decade. That gray-area was daily fantasy as building a fantasy roster was classified as a game of skill and not technically gambling. That format allowed these two sites to build massive user bases and set them up to capitalize on the aforementioned Supreme Court decision. Neither site is moving quickly into esports but both are beginning to offer new opportunities in the digital world.
The site offered their first esports wagering with League of Legends Worlds 2019 in Paris. The line was just Fun Plus Phoenix vs. G2 straight up, one of the most vanilla bets possible in sports betting but a fitting start for Fanduel’s involvement in esports. Unfortunately for bettors, Fanduel’s online sportsbook is only available in four states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Indiana. So while Fanduel may be one of the biggest sites, it’s not the best destination for most esports bettors.
While Fanduel has offered that one line, daily fantasy contests on Fanduel aren’t available for esports yet. But DraftKings has brought League of Legends daily fantasy public with a wide range of contests available for different budgets. For League of Legends fans, this is one of the best ways to wager on the game. Daily fantasy is legal in most states and European countries, plus DraftKings offers some nice bonuses with secure pay-outs and the format is a fun way to enhance League of Legends viewing.
One final site is worth mentioning because it brings in an interesting new way of wagering. Thrive Fantasy puts players head to head almost like playing daily fantasy, except instead of drafting a roster, you make a series of prop bets. A future article will go over the different types of bets one can place but here’s a quick example of a prop bet for people unfamiliar with the term.
100 Thieves plays Evil Geniuses in the LCS tonight. Bang, EG’s AD Carry, has a prop bet of 2.5 kills. A bettor then chooses the over, meaning Bang would get three kills or more, or the under, 2 kills or less. Over awards 105 points while the under awards 95 points which indicates that Thrive believes it is slightly more likely Bang ends up under 2.5 kills. The bettor then chooses five of these prop bets with different LCS players. Once the games are completed, the person who has the most points wins the top prize, but the top six players will all earn some money. This specific contest was a free-roll, meaning that no money is required to enter. Not surprisingly, payouts are also less for freeroll’s than for contests that require an entry fee.
Right now Thrive Fantasy is offering contests in League of Legends, CS:GO, and Dota 2. To learn more about Thrive Fantasy and betting on esports in general, check out this podcast with Thrive Fantasy CEO Adam Weinstein.
Written by Mitch Reames