Sports Betting 101
Basics by Sport
eSports A New Betting Option
The concept of betting on ESports is a relatively new one which has just gained popularity over the last few years. This is especially true when it comes to licensed and regulated Internet gaming providers as only a few of them have added the competitions and games to their sports betting platforms.
Even with that, ESports in and of itself is not a new concept at all. Dating back to the 1970’s, video game competitions have existed ever since there were, well, video games. In fact, in 1980, a Space Invaders tournament was held and sponsored by Atari that garnered over 10,000 participants. That’s pretty impressive considering the Internet was not around back then for individuals to be able to more efficiently coordinate the events!
Most people are familiar with the debacle that was the blatant cash grab of the E.T. game for Atari. For those of you who may have forgotten about it, it was single-handedly almost enough to kill the entire video game industry completely. The public reacted to what was a game that flat out didn’t work with great anger. In fact, many of the unused cartridges were literally buried in the desert while others still protested the game by burning it in effigy.
Needless to say, there were not any E.T. tournaments taking place.
The death of the industry would have also marked the death of ESports, which would have been a real shame as it had just started to gain mainstream attention. Coming off of the heels of the extremely well-received Space Invaders tournament, ESports had started to be covered by major publications. The two most, ‘Legitimate,’ publications to begin covering the phenomenon were Time magazine and Life magazine.
After the temporary hiatus of the popularity of electronic games, Nintendo Entertainment System came in with their original NES and absolutely floored players with the Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt titles. It took awhile for people to warm back up to the concept of video games, but it helped out that Nintendo brought to the market a product the likes of which they had never seen before.
Prior to the advent of Nintendo, the video game industry had built up its ESports infrastructure somewhat laying in place a ground work that is essentially followed to this day. For one thing, ESports were not relegated only to live events, but High Score world records began to be tracked in their own annual publication for several of the games Atari put out. Eventually, for some of the most popular games, The Guinness Book of World Records eventually started to include High Score records for people around the world.
The result was a framework for an extremely popular medium for video game enthusiasts. Eventually, the enthusiasts realized that there were other aspects of the game beyond high scores that could be tracked and have competitions for World Record purposes. One of those was the notion of trying to beat a game as quickly as possible, and it was from that the, ‘Speed Run,’ was born.
The Speed Run concept is not entirely different from the High Score concept, and Speed Runs can also take place live and in a head-to-head tournament setting. The two participants simply need to be seated at two different units and start the game at the same time. The speed runs themselves have also branched off into categories that include blindfolded speed runs and speed runs with certain handicaps put in place.
Several people also became interested in attempting to, ‘Solve,’ a game from a technical standpoint. Essentially, what they have done is developed computer programs to play games for them, over and over again, until the program determines the optimal strategy for the game and/or the quickest possible way to beat it. While they usually do not take place during any sort of tournament, there are usually unofficial tournaments between such individuals to build a program that, ‘Cracks,’ the game first.
There are even official Rules for the concept of speed runs that vary from game to game. For example, some of the older video games are subject to randomness regardless of how a person actually performs. In the original Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out for both arcade and the NES, for instance, how long opponents take to get up after they have been knocked down is essentially random (it’s a boxing game) in some cases. The problem with that is that a, ‘Perfect game,’ from a speed standpoint, could be busted up by pure randomness in a way that is not the fault of the player.
When it comes to that particular game, the, ‘Fix,’ was actually built in. The game calculates the amount of time that the player is actually actively fighting opponents on its own, so the amount of time that an opponent spends getting back up essentially does not count against the player.
Some games that have speed run competitions are much more simple than that to adjudicate. The way they work is that the speed run just goes from start to finish. As soon as the player hits the button for, ‘Press Start,’ the time starts and the time ends when the player has officially beaten the final boss or completed the last task. They could theoretically also include the time it takes for the final credits to roll, but that would be largely superfluous because that should take the same amount of time every time.
Other types of video game competitions include many different genres of video games, with first-person shooters perhaps being the most popular genre. One of the most well-known current games for tournament and professional game play is Counter-Strike Global Offensive, better known as GS:GO for short. Furthermore, fighting games that are arcade-like in nature are also a popular game for tournaments and competitions. One of the most popular games for those purposes is Super Smash Bros. WiiU as well as the, ‘Smash,’ games that came before it.
The concept of competitive ESports has even spread to sports themed games. In fact, the Madden series of games for the NFL has a series of tournaments every year that eventually lead to a huge and well-publicized live event in which the winner takes home tens of thousands of dollars. One of the most well-known finishes to the tournament featured DJones and SpotMePlzzz, and if you want to see it, all you need to is search for them in a YouTube query.
The live Internet streaming of such competitions as well as tutorial videos is hardly without precedent. As early as the 1980’s, there were television shows devoted to video game competition, and in many cases, competing on video games was an aspect of some game shows. The Internet has simply served to bring like-minded people together in that regard.
There are two markets for ESports betting which consist of an above-the-board betting market hosted by trusted traditional sports betting providers, such as Pinnacle and LadBrokes. The second market is a market that is so dark that I would call it as, ‘Black as night,’ and it seeks to take advantage of players who are not at all savvy to what is going on as well as to get children hooked on gambling from a very young age. Fortunately, the creators of the games in question are working to put the kibosh on at least the most well-known of these providers.
ESports as an Industry
While the concept of ESports may seem silly to those who are not familiar with it, it is an industry that is worth over a billion dollars a year, not including the actual betting. The industry is multi-layered and includes the actual players, sponsors and tournament organizers.
While many people begin getting into ESports competition for the fun of the game, the game eventually becomes a serious pursuit for those who want to excel at it. It is called, ‘Sports,’ for a reason and that is because the dedication and training that it takes to become one of the best in the world is little different than that which is required for professional athletes. Granted, the games themselves are nowhere near as physically demanding, but they do demand an impressive degree of hand-eye coordination as well as tremendous dexterity and alacrity of mind.
The hand-eye coordination comes from the fact that players often have to respond to visual or audio cues that take place in as little as one, ‘Frame,’ and to be successful must be able to act immediately. In order to take advantage of an opportunity, a player must be able to recognize the situation and take action when presented with a stimuli without delay.
In terms of stamina, these players practice for many long hours because, when it comes to tournaments, the early tournament stages can be somewhat grueling and might require long hours of facing off against opponent after opponent. Further, there is also the matter of qualifying for such tournaments to begin with, which often necessitates being one of the better rated online players in the game’s massive multi-player mode. That is the case both with the Madden games as well as the Smash titles.
These players may initially get into it for the love of video games, but make no mistake that it does become, at least in part, a business for them. Several players are assigned to certain teams and play under contract through which they may be guaranteed a certain salary as well as some percentage of all of their tournament wins. Independent players who are very successful might even garner their own sponsors who pay them to plug/use their merchandise. In the first few years of the ESports boom, most of the sponsors were gaming and computer related.
Sponsors in the first few years of ESports becoming popular online would include companies that manufactured and/or distributed video game and computer game-related goods. In that sense, ESports was very much a self-contained industry for a long time. The companies that would sponsor players might be companies that manufacture mouses, controllers, the games themselves as well as other gaming related products. DXRacer is a sponsor of gaming-related podcasts, for example, and they are a maker of video game chairs, among other things.
The sponsorships that were once limited to gaming companies have now expanded to include more mainstream companies and it is not unusual to see some advertisements for energy drinks, or other things, in the background of these events. Some energy drink companies may even sponsor players and give them bonuses for using the products on camera.
Sponsorships and contracts are not the only means by which the ESports participants can make money. Obviously, they can make bank by winning tournaments, as well.
Perhaps the biggest revenue stream for many of these ESports players is the act of live streaming themselves playing their games of choice. They may live stream themselves taking on opponents from across the world, or they may put together tutorials to help individuals who want to learn how to play the games better themselves. These tutorials are often a fairly stable revenue source because the subscribers to these channels, the most popular hosting site being Twitch, will pay fees to have access to the channels that will be split in some way between the hosting site and the player streaming the live play.
Many video game players utilize YouTube rather than a site such as Twitch that is specifically designed for live hosting. Rather than charge their fans a fee on direct, they upload their videos to YouTube and collect their share of the ad revenues from the ads that come on before and during the videos. Many such players have both a Twitch Streaming account AND a Youtube channel and may essentially use the YouTube channel to promote their Twitch live streaming. In fact, several of these Youtubers put on videos that were taken of the Twitch live streaming in an effort to get their subscribers to follow them live.
For several of these players, the amounts of money they bring in are nothing near paltry and there are many people out there that should do so well as to make as much as some of these guys do. For the best ESports players out there, it is not unusual for them to be pulling down in the high five figures (USD) or low six figures per year. Many other second tier players still pull in the low five figures. Either way the industry is very popular, and even with the collapse of what has become known as, ‘Skins,’ betting the players should be just fine as much of the money that they bring in comes by way as a result of their subscribers being interested in them.
If you are interested in Skins betting, you can find more info here
Licensed out of Curacao and operating since 1998, Pinnacle Sports is one of the oldest and most trusted online sports betting resources that can be found anywhere on the Internet. Though they do not accept players from the United States, for anyone located abroad, Pinnacle Sports is a one stop shop for ESports Betting.
Pinnacle does a fantastic job and the layout of the site is positively stellar. They are also one of the few Internet sports books to develop a completely separate set of pages just for the purpose of ESports wagering. Most of the time, players have to deal with the other types of sports betting littering the page and a layout that is not at all user-friendly.
It’s totally different with ESports betting on Pinnacle. Before anything else, Pinnacle makes clear that they take the world of ESports very seriously, and they back that up also by sponsoring and live streaming a wide variety of events on their own site.
If you have a preferred sportsbook or online casino that offers ESports and you enjoy playing other things there already, then I could certainly understand staying there and playing. However, if your sole interest is in ESports, then there is no better site than Pinnacle which clearly takes both you and the games seriously.
Pinnacle is not only one of the first major online casinos and sportsbooks, they are also one of the first to offer ESports betting and have been in the game of ESports since 1990. They pride themselves on the fact that they have taken in more than five million individual wagers to date, and quite frankly, they should be proud of that statistic. They are certainly the foremost of ESports operators.
The design of the site is fantastic, it is bright, vibrant, exciting and sure to attract the Millennials who take the ESports the most seriously. Whereas many other sports betting sites operate the ESports pages on their usual plain Jane betting platforms, Pinnacle treats it as its own industry and the only nod to traditional sports betting are in links to their own sports pages.
Pinnacle also scores very highly in both User Reviews, User Satisfaction and professional reviews across our entire family of websites. Pinnacle performs well in terms of player development, fairness, paying out quickly and in terms of customer service. On the sportsbook side for traditional sports, Pinnacle is well known for offering very competitive odds and, for that reason, it should be assumed that ESports on the site are no different.
Pinnacle offers access to the widest variety of ESports betting events every single day. In addition to that, they offer the widest range of exotic andor proposition bets for players interested in having a wide variety of gambling options and the potential to win huge!
This is much more than the head-to-head or MoneyLine wagering only that is offered on several other sites who do nothing more than give a nod to ESports. It cannot be emphasized enough how Pinnacle is leaps and bounds beyond all competition (except SkyBet offers a wide variety of bets, as well) to such an extent as they could not even be meaningfully considered competition.
For those reasons, I cannot recommend Pinnacle highly enough. While I do not personally engage in ESports betting, if I did, there is no doubt that I would do it at Pinnacle if it were available to ESports bettors in the United States. It is just awesome.
Bet365 has mixed reviews as a virtual casino provider and has a history of offering games that some of our resources have found to be questionable. For one example, they continued to offer Spielo G2 products after those products were found not to correspond with the fair odds of the physical games that they represented. In other words, the games were essentially gaffed.
Some users on our family of websites have enjoyed what is available at Bet365, but the reviews have largely been mixed. The Affiliate Guard Dog has also applied the predatory tag to Bet365 as it has engaged in the act of changing its affiliate policies and then retroactively applying the new policies to some affiliate sites. In other words, they are changing the terms of the arrangements with sites such as ours after the fact and basically just telling the operators of sites like the ones in our family, and others, “Live with it.”
If you are already a Bet365 player anyway, and are interested in betting Electronic Sports, then there is nothing wrong with placing some bets on that site. However, if you do not currently participate on any betting sites and are looking bet ESports, I would strongly recommend looking into Pinnacle first as their platform is far and away the best available on the market as of the time of this writing.
Between the blandness of Bet365’s betting platform and the history of issues they have had with players and affiliates alike, I am afraid that I simply cannot recommend that anyone play at Bet365 is their primary interest is ESports unless you are already a customer there for other casino and sportsbook options. By itself, it is simply not a stellar ESports product.
The first thing that we should say about LadBrokes is that it is also a major online gambling site that has been in existence since the beginning. LadBrokes has also had a physical casino presence during its entire run as the company began in 1886.
LadBrokes performs well in both user and professional reviews and scores across our entire family of sites and is considered to be an extremely safe casino to play at for those able to access it. Unfortunately, United States players are not able to play at LadBrokes. The site is known for having prompt and courteous customer service, to pay players in a timely manner and to resolve any player disputes quickly and fairly.
LadBrokes also merged with the massive Gaia Coral Group back in July of 2015 and the combined entity is known as LadBrokes Coral. This has not resulted in any meaningful change to LadBrokes already impressive casino and sportsbook operations.
For the time being, unfortunately, LadBrokes does not seem to take the industry of ESports terribly seriously and its limited offerings are little more than a cursory nod to the industry. For the time being, they appear to only offer wagering options on two of the games out there, CS:GO and League of Legends. Furthermore, the majority of their betting options for these games are as plain as they come consisting of betting on the winner straight up (Moneyline) or handicapping the amount of kills that the winner will eventually win by, which is essentially the same concept as point spread betting.
If you are looking for a wide range of potential events to bet on, then LadBrokes is not going to be the choice for you as they seem to only roll out odds on some of the most major events. In addition, if you like to bet the Proposition bet or the more exotic bets, while they might expand in the future, LadBrokes does not seem to be the best choice for that as of this April of 2017.
If you are already a LadBrokes punter, then you might decide to add ESports betting to your repertoire if you have an interest in it. However, if ESports is your only interest and you are not currently affiliated with any other sites in terms of being a punter, then I would strongly suggest taking a hard look at what Pinnacle has to offer first.
In terms of player safety, player development and knowing that you are going to get paid if you win, it is tough to beat LadBrokes. It is just that their ESports platform is extremely limited and bland as of the time of this writing. They are not even really dipping a toe into the pool, they are more like dipping the very tip of a toe in.
BetWay is very much a mixed bag in terms of a place to gamble on ESports and overall. It scores reasonably well across our family of sites, and it has some strong user reviews, but it is not necessarily the most renowned in terms of player treatment. Unfortunately, they have a very mixed history when it comes to the bonuses they have offered and how they treat the players who play the bonuses.
For one thing, BetWay often seems to automatically apply bonuses to a player’s account meaningfully forewarning the player and whether the player wants the bonus or not. If you do not want to play with one of their bonuses, and perhaps you shouldn’t, then you are going to need to go out of your way to speak to customer service and make sure that no bonuses are going to be applied to your account unless you request them specifically.
As if that were not enough of a pain in the ass, if you’ll excuse the term, BetWay will also occasionally use the bonuses that they basically force upon you as an excuse to not pay out your winnings! Winning bonus players will often be accused of the capricious and arbitrary offense of, “Violating the spirit of the bonus,” whatever the hell that is supposed to mean. For all I know, it means nothing more than playing the bonus and winning as a result.
The result is a very negative one-two punch that would cause me to avoid BetWay. BetWay seems to be upset if I win while playing on a bonus, but at the same time, I have to go WAY out of my way to make sure that I am not playing on a bonus.
I’m not saying to avoid BetWay entirely, if you have already played there and have had a good experience, then by all means, continue to do so. It bears reiteration that they do have decent overall reviews across our family of websites.
In terms of the ESports offerings themselves, BetWay offers the fewest options in terms of both events and individual unique betting options. Proposition and exotic bets are essentially unheard of on this site and it seems that the betting options may be limited to as few as two or three events at a time, sometimes. Furthermore, the platform for the ESports betting is absolutely not at all different than the platform for betting on traditional sports.
While the interface is certainly sufficient and easy enough to understand, it is a great one for traditional sports bettors who do not need anything flashy, but for the market most likely to be interested in ESports, it is about as bland as an unbuttered and unsalted baked potato. Let’s hope that they decide to improve upon their design in the near future in order to facilitate a more dynamic betting atmosphere and offer a wider variety of betting options.
Ireland-based Paddy Power is another one of the largest and longest-running online gambling an sports betting websites and the company has been attracting punters since 1988 in both their physical and online operations. This was another company to complete a serious merger in 2015 as it merged with BetFair to form the new company Paddy Power Betfair. For the time being, the Paddy Power and Betfair branded sites still operate as separate products even though they now both belong to the same parent company.
Paddy Power has earned a stellar reputation and ranks very well amongst our family of websites in terms of both user and professional reviews. The reputation that they have for treating their punters with courtesy, kindness and fairness is well-deserved. They have a long-standing history of being one of the most trustworthy online gambling sites for those fortunate enough to have access to them. As with many of the others, unfortunately, United States based players cannot play there.
The Paddy Power site falls somewhere in the middle of all of these sites when it comes to the number of different events and games that they cover for ESports betting at any given time. Beyond that, they do not seem to offer the full gamut of proposition and exotic bets that are available at sites such as Pinnacle and SkyBet. However, Paddy Power is still one website that we think both current players and new player should at least consider for their ESports punting due to their stellar reputation and long-standing history of excellent customer service.
While we would still recommend taking a good look at Pinnacle because Pinnacle treats ESports betting as its own completely separate entity, as it should, Paddy Power offers more betting options than sites such as Bet365.. For that reason, it is at least worth taking a look. It is unfortunate, however, that the site is not unique to their other sports betting options in anyway. It is essentially the same exact platform as that which is offered for traditional punting, but that is not going to do much to attract Millennials who are much more likely to be drawn to a site such as Pinnacle.
For those of you already playing at Paddy Power, of for those of you with a wider range of gambling interests, we strongly recommend taking a look at that site for their overall catalog of games. They have slot offerings that rival those of any website out there, as well as virtual and live table games that are both dynamic and exciting. The presentation of the ESports betting product, unfortunately, just happens to be somewhat sterile.
EGB Online is something of a new presence in the online gambling market as they formed in 2015 and, it seems, only for the purpose of ESports betting. We do not know much about them and there is not much in the way of user reviews or scores on our family of sites because they do not operate any sorts of traditional casino or sports betting product.
Despite the fact that EGB Online does ESports and ESports only, Pinnacle still manages, probably because of their vast resources, to produce a more dynamic and visually impressive site with an extremely friendly and easy to understand user interface.
If your only interest is in ESports betting, then this site may be worth a look, but we would tend to recommend Pinnacle because they have a stellar reputation and have been in the business of online gambling for a long time. We would not necessarily advise against checking out EGB Online, and their user interface is certainly fairly impressive, we just don’t know enough about them to actually recommend them.
SkyBet is part of the Sky Betting and Gaming websites based out of Leeds, England and has been in operation for several years. SkyBet reviews pretty solidly in terms of both User and Professional scores across our family of websites and, for the time being at least, is generally regarded as a trusted online casino for those who might enjoy access to it.
There have been no major issues that could be confirmed reported to us that would lead us to believe that SkyBet is anything other than a legitimate source of fair games at which players can be expected to be treated both courteously and fairly.
Under the, ‘Sky,’ brand, Sky operates a wide variety of gambling options. They have Sky Bet for both traditional and ESports betting, Sky Casino, Sky Bingo, Sky Poker and Sky Vegas. The overall product offering across these many brands under the Sky umbrella is nothing short of impressive and rivals that of any other individual or family of online betting locations.
In terms of the different exotic and proposition betting options and number of events that they cover, SkyBet stands alone as a location that can compete meaningfully with Pinnacle in terms of ESports betting. Unfortunately, the user interface for ESports betting is not as unique or dynamic as that at Pinnacle for Sky Bet as the interface itself is identical to their traditional sports wagering products.
We would recommend that any players already playing at Sky Bet with an interest in electronic sports betting could continue to use Sky Bet for that purpose as the do offer access to a wide variety of events, games and positions that a punter is able to take. For those with an interest in ESports and not other forms of gambling who do not currently have a site at which they play, we would strongly recommend taking a look at SkyBet and Pinnacle and deciding which you would be most comfortable with. Far and away, these are the two best sites for ESports betting and the others mentioned barely meaningfully compete in that market.
After thoroughly looking at all of the products offered from the various betting websites that have been mentioned, we would very narrowly recommend Pinnacle first and foremost for ESports betting due to the dynamic and modern design and feel of the website, their history as a online casino provider and an extremely friendly user interface. Sky Bet was close as them and Pinnacle seem to be very comparable on the sort of gambling options that are offered, but we still take Pinnacle overall because of the devotion to ESports that is apparent by way of the design and interface.
Of course, if you are looking for the best ESports operation for you, then we would suggest at least taking a look at both Pinnacle and Sky Bet as they are tied for betting options. The only real question for you, as a player, is which website design and interface you prefer. We think that Pinnacle is terrific, modern and will appeal to the target market of Millennials, but something that is not quite so, ‘In your face,’ might be more up your alley.
Will ESports Perform Well Long-Term?
ESports is already performing well and represents a betting market in which overall a billion dollars or more is placed in wagers around the world. The end of the major skins betting websites that were cracked down upon by Steam/Valve certainly took away from the overall value of the ESports betting industry, but those websites and operators were mostly terrible and targeting vulnerable minors, anyway. Inexcusable.
When it comes to legitimate online gambling operators offering ESports options, the number of them overall seems to be growing, but several of them do not seem to take the industry as seriously as perhaps they should. The user interfaces for the players are bland and uninviting and are also not sufficient to appeal to the target market who will currently be most interested in the games, namely individuals in their twenties and early thirties.
Fortunately, there are sites such as Pinnacle with their over five million individual bets taken, and SkyBet, who are devoted to the ESports industry and are willing to cater to all of the punters who are willing to bet on ESports. For individuals with an interest, just about every possible combination of betting options is available at those sites and a plethora of games, tournaments and events are covered.
Hopefully, SkyBet and Pinnacle will prove the financial viability of the market and the other sites will seek to produce a product that can meaningfully compete with them. Such competition will certainly be a positive for the players as it will serve to improve the odds that the player are offered and will create competition in the marketplace. With an increased number of operators, it will be important for the sites accepting ESports bets not just to roll out a wide variety of events and options, but also, to be competitive on the kinds of lines they are laying out for the punters to choose from.
Unfortunately, the sites that do not take ESports betting seriously enough will basically be subject to a self-fulfilling prophecy as their ESports gaming win numbers will be unimpressive. The simple fact of the matter is that if they do not build themselves up into being as impressive as sites such as Pinnacle, ESports purists (those with little to no interest in other forms of gambling) will be unlikely to play there and sites such as Pinnacle and SkyBet will get to dominate the betting market.
We hope that we have presented you with a good sample of the ESports options that are available to you as a player and that you have enjoyed reading about some of the history and ongoing events in the world of ESports. We certainly do not support gambling by children and hope that Valve/Steam will experience continued success in their crackdown on the skins betting sites that are out there.
Fortunately, there are many legitimate betting outlets, such as Pinnacle and SkyBet that offer ESports options such that players know they are getting a fair shake. We definitely recommend that bettors of legal age continue to frequent those sites, or start frequenting them, as opposed to participating in gambling as these illicit, fraudulent and unregulated third-party websites.
While the lack of these illicit betting websites have caused the ESports betting industry to decline overall, the regulated and licensed ESports industry has grown over the last several years and is expected to continue to do so. We hope that the long-term operators continue to experience continued success and that the legal industry continues to grow.
As the industry grows and current operators continue to improve and offer new options, we will update this page periodically to reflect that information. Furthermore, if operators who have existed in the realm of online gambling for a long time add an ESports betting platform, then we will update this page to reflect that, as well.