Best Esports Betting Sites for 2017

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What is the best esports betting site?

Any ranking system is bound to be subjective, and our ratings for the major esports gambling sites are no exception. To help place our esportsbook ratings into perspective, here are the primary factors that we consider when building a rating for any individual esportsbook. Obviously, some factors may be more important to specific players than others, but we believe these are the basic questions players should be asking when considering if an online sportsbook is right for them.

Our esports betting site reviews

Reputation check

One of the great things about the modern online sports betting industry is that it’s much harder for a rogue site to stay alive than it was a decade ago. Today, a simple Google search is often enough to unearth the questionable past of an operator (if such a past exists), social signals such as Twitter and Facebook interactions can provide a further window into the legitimacy of a betting operator, and consumer reviews from a variety of outlets are only a click away.

The reputation of an operator, and the tenure behind that reputation, are foundational pieces of our ratings and esportsbook reviews.

Fund access and security for esports bettors

  • How easy is it for players to request withdrawals?
  • What are the turnaround times for cashing out?
  • What do players have to say about their experiences with cashing out via social media and forums?
  • How many options are there for getting money on and off the site?
  • What is the site’s policy regarding player funds – are they held in a segregated account?

The answers to these questions are a significant part of the analysis that goes in to assigning our ratings for esports betting sites.

Variety of esports coverage

Once you’ve established that you feel comfortable trusting an online sportsbook with your information and funds, the next step is considering how the lineup offered by a given sportsbook coordinates with your esports interest.

We recognize that offering a lot of esports isn’t the same as offering the best betting product, but we do provide a ratings boost to operators who combine a quality product with broad product coverage, as most gamers and esports fans don’t limit their interest to only one title.

Scope of esports gambling product

This criterion is highly subjective, as different players will prefer different types of bets. Some players are happy with match betting at low limits. Others prefer high-stakes wagering on exotic outcomes. We assign a minor weight to this factor in recognition of the fact that there is no single best betting menu for all players, but also with a nod to the reality that the broadest menu will likely satisfy the widest audience.

Esportsbooks vs traditional sportsbooks

The esports betting landscape contains both traditional online sportsbooks (like betway) that offer esports alongside other sports like football and tennis and esports-first sportsbooks (such as Unikrn) with a primary (or even a completely exclusive) focus on esports.

The points that favor esports-first sportsbooks:

  • esports-first books will generally offer broader esports coverage.
  • esports-first books will often provide more esports streaming or other content around the betting product.
  • esports-first books may provide a more familiar experience for a gamer or esports fan than a traditional sportsbook.

On the other side of the coin:

  • Traditional sportsbooks are generally more established.
  • Traditional sportsbooks tend to serve more markets than esports-first books.
  • Limits are often higher at traditional books like Pinnacle.

Fundamentally, your choice should always come down primarily to the site where you feel most comfortable, and then to the site that provides the product that best matches your needs. On those points, there’s no reason why either an esports-first book or a traditional sportsbook would be inherently superior.

Sportsbook betting vs lounge / skin betting

Informal betting sites site as CSGOLounge are popular options for gamers. We believe there are a number of advantages to choosing to bet at an esportsbook.

Informal markets are just that – informal. You often have little idea who is actually behind the site or insight into the inherent fairness of the site. You also don’t necessarily have a path for recourse if something goes wrong with your bet or your balance.

There’s also the problem of turning in-game items into cash. Not all players have an interest in betting in-game items as a way to generate a cash return. But for those who do, transferring items into cash is a difficult, time-consuming and often risky endeavor.

Moving your betting to a mainstream sportsbook mitigates both of those concerns. You get to work with an operator that is often heavily licensed and regulated – in fact, many of the sports betting operators we list are publicly-traded companies. That provides a level of transparency and assurance that you’re never going to get with informal betting markets. And since you’re dealing in cash the whole time, there’s no concern about price volatility or the hassle of selling your items.

Read more about popular, safe alternatives to CSGO skin betting.

Opening bonuses at esports casinos and sports books

In addition to VIP programs and other ongoing promotions, esports casinos sites typically offer new players some sort of sign up incentive. These incentives range dramatically from sportsbook to sportsbook, and the terms and conditions behind the bonuses can often make it difficult to accurately compare the values of competing bonuses with just a surface analysis. Below we offer a brief guide to interpreting the most common – and most critical – terms and conditions associated with bonuses for new players at esports casinos and sports books.

All esports gambling promotions have terms and conditions (aka, the fine print). The terms are often minor, but can be significant. We strongly encourage players to read the fine print and to ask operators questions if they’re unclear on any aspect of a promotional offer.

We especially stress two common conditions of opening bonuses that all players should be aware of: 1) expiration dates (many bonuses are only available for a limited time and may additionally need to be earned within a limited time period) and 2) playthrough (many bonuses require you to wager an amount relative to the bonus before the bonus can be used or withdrawn).

Deposit bonuses at esports casinos

Deposit bonuses are not entirely unlike free bet bonuses, but they tend to involve larger amounts of money and slightly more complicated terms for unlocking that money.

  • Minimum Deposit: There is usually a floor for match bonuses, meaning you must deposit at least some minimum amount.
  • Bonus Rate: There’s typically a percentage attached to a bonus – that’s the match rate. Whatever you deposit will be “matched” by that rate (up to the limit on the bonus).
  • Bonus Limit: The cap on the bonus.
  • Wagering Requirement: Changing bonus funds into playable funds requires you to wager a certain amount of real money.
  • Window: There is usually some time frame involved, both for collecting the bonus and for earning it.

The opening deposit bonus at bet365 esports is a good example of a first deposit bonus for esports bettors.

  • Make a minimum deposit of $10 within 7 days of creating your account.
  • Bet365 will match your deposit 100% with a max bonus of $100.
  • To convert your bonus into bettable funds, wager 1x the amount of your deposit.
  • You must wager (settled bets) at least 3x your deposit amount + bonus before you can cash out.
  • Turnover requirements for bets: Any single bets placed at odds of less than 1.50 (1/2) do not count towards any turnover requirement. For multiple bets, the minimum threshold is 1.50 (1/2) or greater to count towards any turnover requirement.
  • If you cash out prior to meeting this requirement, the bonus is voided.
  • You have 90 days to meet the requirements.

Generally speaking, deposit bonuses tend to be product agnostic – meaning you don’t need to bet on any particular kind of sport or make any specific kind of wager (save the minimum odds requirements) in order to earn the bonus.

Other types of promotions offered by sportsbooks are tied to a particular sport. For example, the start of Premiere League brings with it a slew of football-related promotions that incentivize fans to start the season off betting. Right now, we don’t see too many of those sorts of promotions for esports events, but that’s something we expect to change before too long. After all, with tens of millions of people tuning in for championship events for Dota 2 and more viewers spread across the various major CS:GO events, the opportunity to ride a substantial wave of attention will prove too attractive to ignore for long.

Not all sportsbooks offer such promotions. For example, Pinnacle esports does not provide deposit bonuses or free bets. Instead, the company focuses on offering the best odds available in lieu of giving indirect value to bettors via signup promotions or similar incentives.

Free esports bets at sportsbooks

The term “free bet” actually describes a wide class of promotions with unique terms. Generally speaking, the concept behind the free bet either comes down to:

  1. The sportsbook giving you some funds upfront that can be used to make a wager (but can’t be withdrawn), or
  2. The sportsbook rebating your first bet (or bets) should those bets end up not working out in our favor.

Nothing too complicated at work here. The sportsbook knows that if you take their free bet – which is often a relatively small amount of money – then there’s a good chance you’ll become a customer. We’re all creatures of habit, and once we’ve tried a place, we’re more likely to return. In the scenario where the book guarantees your initial bet, they have some additional upside – the customer is happy when they win, and happy when they lose as well. That sounds like a customer who is likely to come back.

The terms and conditions for free bets are unique to each offer. Here are some of the basic facets typically found in terms and conditions to give you an idea of what’s in play:

  • New Customers: As the name suggests, welcome bonuses or new customers bonuses are only available to players who haven’t already made an account.
  • Playthrough: The sportsbook may require that you wager a set amount of money before your bonus becomes money that you can cash out. This is a common practice that is used to deter bonus fraud by eSportsbooks.
  • Odds or over: Free bets will often come with a requirement that the player place a wager involving some minimum odds or greater.
  • Account confirmation: The operator may require some verification of your identity before processing a bonus (again, a fraud prevention measure)
  • Eligibility Window: There may be a limited amount of time after you sign up that the sportsbook allows you to claim the bonus.
  • Bonus Expiration: The eSportsbook may set a limit on how long you have to earn the bonus or complete the requirements attached to the bonus.

Here’s an example. Betway eSports offers a free bet of up to £30/€30/$30. To earn it, you must:

  • Create an account.
  • Deposit a minimum of £10/€10/$10 using approved payment methods within 7 days.
  • The free bet will then be automatically credited to your account.
  • You must place bets totaling the value of your deposit.
  • You have 7 days to use the free bet.
  • The free bet can only be used in a single wager.
  • Free bet stake not included in any returns.

Online sportsbooks aren’t as generous with free bets as they once were. But with esports betting on the rise, we could see competition between top esports betting sites bring the free bet back into vogue.

Esports betting options by country

Regulated markets

Esports betting is readily available in clearly-regulated markets such as the United Kingdom. Bettors from the UK should confirm that an operator is licensed by the UKGC if the site is offering services to players from the UK.

A number of widely-licensed, global operators such as bet365 offer esports, ensuring that the product is available in at least some form in most regulated markets.

Grey markets

Some markets have either an absence of law regarding online sports betting or deep ambiguity in their law regarding such activity. In these markets, legality is fluid and different operators take different approaches to activity in the market, but a number of esports betting options at well-regarded sites are available.

We advise players in these markets to approach the activity with caution, confirm local law regarding potential criminal liability as a player, and prefer esports betting options that are licensed in an established jurisdiction like the UK.

Other

In markets such as the United States and South Korea, online sports betting is widely considered explicitly illegal by authorities. There are options available to players from these markets, but we do not specifically advise players from such jurisdictions to wager on esports online and make our best attempts to not promote operators that appear to cater to those markets.

Do all sites offer the same matches?

While a number of different operators offer a variety of eSports betting products, there is a real difference in the coverage of major eSports titles from one site to the next. Check out our esports odds tracker to get a sense of who is offering what.

Why don’t all sites offer all esports?

Despite the fact that Pinnacle took the first esports bet way back in 2010, the truth is that esports betting is still a relatively new phenomenon. That means some books are moving cautiously, and just trying out some of the more popular, proven esports. So while you’ll find quite a few esports listed at books who have been working on esports for some time (like Pinnacle and Betway), you’ll likely find far fewer at a site such as bet365 where esports are only starting to become a focus point.

The newness of esports betting also means that there is a limited understanding of how the markets for individual esports should be priced – it’s not like football or golf where there are entire industries already built around providing data and pricing for betting on live events. esports betting involves a learning curve for online sportsbooks, and that learning curve means that it will be some time before all major esports are covered by all online sportsbooks.

If a site offers an esport, does that mean it offers betting on all matches?

Not necessarily. Again, some online sportsbooks are basically dipping their toes in the water when it comes to eSports, so they may choose to only focus on the major events like The International while neglecting to offer fixtures on smaller events. We are developing an esports odds tracker that will allow you to get a quick view of where events are or aren’t being offered.

How can I tell if a site offers in-play or other advanced wagering on an esport title?

Generally speaking, the more focus a sportsbook places on eSports, the greater variety of wagers that you’re going to find at that book. So sites like Unikrn, Pinnacle, and betway are all going to have more exotic wagers and a greater array of betting options than sportsbooks like Unibet and Ladbrokes that are still growing into their eSports offering.

Is esports betting any different legally than sports betting?

The answer to this question has yet to be determined.

At this point, we are unaware of any jurisdiction that has taken a different regulatory approach to esports betting than the approach taken to traditional sports betting. Many major operators, including William Hill and Ladbrokes, offer esports betting, so we infer that concern regarding regulatory pushback is minor.

But it’s true that esports and traditional sports are fundamentally different experiences. At some point, those core differences may force gambling regulators and lawmakers to rethink their approach to esports betting.

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