The popularity of esports in the USA has grown. Statista projects that esports viewership in the USA will reach approximately 46 million by 2023. As viewership numbers grow, so does esports betting in the USA.
How Esports Betting in the USA Works
Esports betting is complex in the country as only a small number of states allow regulated sports betting, and just a few states have approved esports betting in the USA. A good idea is to become familiar with US betting laws if you are a resident and wish to place bets on esports matches. US betting laws are complex to learn, so take your time when reading through them.
Betting laws will vary state-to-state, meaning esports betting is totally legal in some states, regulated in others, and illegal in the rest. Knowing these laws will help you navigate the esports betting scene without worrying about bad decisions.
Regulations and Licensing
For most people, understanding the betting laws in the USA is difficult. Most of the country has deemed sports betting to be illegal. Even bookmakers that are well-known in the USA are limited by state laws. Sports betting and esports betting in the USA are behind much of the rest of the world from a regulatory standpoint. So, it’s always best to do your research well ahead of getting into online betting.
The good news is that state politicians are working to pass laws to loosen the restrictions on esports betting. New Jersey is one of the states to make esports betting legal.
The states where esports betting is completely legal are Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Certain states regulate esports betting, meaning that certain rules and restrictions apply, but is not completely illegal.
Regardless of the state you live in, always make sure to research your state’s betting laws. Doing so will help you avoid potential complications with bookmakers.
Esports betting in the USA by state
Let’s take a look, briefly, at esports betting, by state, for some of the major states in the USA.
Esports betting in California
Sports betting, and thus esports betting, is illegal in California. Efforts to change regulations in 2022 failed, and currently, it’s estimated that 2024 is the earliest that sports betting may become legal in California. To make that happen, it’s likely that California will need a constitutional amendment that must be voted upon.
Esports betting in New Jersey
New Jersey is an early adopter of sports betting and esports betting and sports betting has been legal in the state since 2018. Esports betting in New Jersey sees one of the largest betting markets, where gaming bets are offered alongside sports options and online casinos.
Laws in New Jersey currently allow bets of a maximum of $100 (with a maximum return of $500) on a list of approved games and events, which include:
- League of Legends World Championship Finals & Qualifiers
- Any League of Legends tournament run directly by Riot Games
- eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series
- GG CSGO Legend Series
- CSGO Blast Premier League, ESL-Pro League, and IEM ESL Events
- Dota 2 ESL Events
- VALORANT tournaments tun and organized by Riot Games
Esports betting in Nevada
Las Vegas, of course, has an extensive history of gaming and gambling, and it’s hosted numerous championships. Esports betting has been reviewed by The Nevada Gaming Control Board, but there are two caveats:
- The only fully-approved bets are head-to-heads and outrights
- All wagers must be made before the match in question begins
So, esports betting in Nevada does have some restrictions, the above mean that in-game or live betting isn’t allowed. However, hundreds of betting sites in Nevada have added esports betting and pro-gaming to their sportsbooks, including DraftKings.
Esports betting in Colorado
Esports betting and online wagering were legalized in Colorado in 2020, and esports events are classified as sports events. However, esports games that are not sanctioned by a sports governing body or events that have high-school participants are still not legal to bet on.
Esports betting in Delaware
Delaware was actually the first US state to legalize sports betting, but esports betting is restricted. There are only three legal options for sports betting in the state, offered by retail sportsbooks and located at authorized gambling venues.
Esports betting in Pennsylvania
Sports betting is legal in Pennsylvania, and currently, lawmakers are pushing for the legalization of esports gambling. As of April 2023, new legislation is progressing through the Pennsylvania General Assembly that could make the state the next US state to legalize esports betting.
Esports betting in Tennessee
In 2019, regulators passed laws in Tennessee that legalized online-only sports betting and included reference to esports betting, making it clearly legal in the state for residents.
The legalization of sports betting and esports betting in some states in the USA has opened the door for the industry. Betting regulations are changing quickly in every state. It’s always worth checking for the most recent regulatory news for the state you live in.
Choosing an Esports Bookie
When it comes to choosing an esports bookmaker, you must know the site you are dealing with. Since esports betting laws differ state-to-state, knowing which sites are legit will help prevent problems.
Although there are plenty of trustworthy esports betting sites, there are many you need to avoid. Avoid using sites that have not obtained legal licensing from competitive leagues and are unregulated by the state. Using these sites will put your personal information and deposits at risk.
Before placing any bets, know the types of platforms that exist. Certain bookmaker sites are hybrids while others are esports-first sites. Hybrid sites include other sporting leagues to bet on while esports-first sites are strictly only for esports betting.
Once you decide on either a hybrid or esports-first platform, you should pick a betting market to start in. League of Legends, Counter-strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 are a few betting markets to look at.
Finally, you’ll need to look into trusted platforms that offer the betting market you want.
DraftKings is one platform that offers esports and has a good reputation. DraftKings is particularly popular for CS:GO betting in the USA, unsurprisingly as Counter-Strike is one of the most popular esports titles to bet on.
Betting Odds and Types of Wagers
You should become familiar with the types of esports wagers and betting odds if you are serious about winning esports bets. The most commonly seen wagers offered by betting platforms are:
- Outright winners (futures)
- Over/under bets
- Odd/even bets
- Correct score
Certain wagers are exclusive to a specific game. Some game-exclusive bets you will see are “Team to destroy first tower” for LoL, “Total maps played” for CS:GO, and “Team to kill first Roshan” for Dota 2. Some esports betting sites offer “alternative bets”, which provide you with even more betting options.
USA betting sites may use different terminologies to describe wager types. Be aware that although these terms might differ, they are the same as the most common wagers.
Learning how to convert betting odds and how they are calculated will help you make better decisions when placing a bet. Each betting odd is calculated to probability or percentage. The types of esports betting odds you’ll want to familiarize yourself with are as follows.
- Decimal odds
- Fractional odds
- American odds
Much of the legal focus on stopping online betting in the United States was on money laundering and organised crime, particularly the way payments were processed. This makes it very important that you choose a properly safe, secure and reputable payment method to process your payments.
When it comes to making sure that your esports betting USA style is safe, there are three categories of payment methods to choose from. These are:
Credit and Debit Cards
Visa and Mastercard credit and debit cards are accepted at most online bookies and remain the safest and most convenient method to use. Due to their size and history, Visa and Mastercard both have very robust systems in place when it comes to security and swift and accurate processing of payments.
E-wallets are electronic payment methods that are specifically designed for use online. Paypal is a famous e-wallet, though many experienced gamblers may be more familiar with Skrill and Neteller. It is important to note, though, that using e-wallets can sometimes prevent you from receiving welcome bonuses from some of the esports betting sites USA punters can use.
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have become more popular as a way of funding betting accounts in recent years. There is growing consistency among bookies when it comes to accepting cryptocurrencies.
Other Opportunities for US Residents
Fantasy esports allows gamblers to create their own team using a roster of active players. Each player will go through the roster of a specific league and pick five players to form a team. The player with the team composition that performed the best during the season will be the winner. This type of betting is different because it gives players an opportunity to use their knowledge and judgment to form the team they think is best.
DraftKings Fantasy Esports
Draftkings fantasy esports is an online and mobile betting platform that offers fantasy leagues in LoL, CS:GO, Rocket League, Call of Duty, and eNASCAR.
DraftKings is one of the most trusted names in sports betting and offers one of the largest selections for fantasy esports. The platform also provides users with daily fantasy esports content.
Is esports betting legal in the USA?
Esports betting laws are quite complex in the USA. It differs state-to-state.
Is esports betting legal in Nevada?
Yes, Nevada is a state where all esports and sports betting is legal.
Is esports betting legal in New Jersey?
Yes, New Jersey is another state where esports betting is legal.
Which esports tournaments can I bet on in the US?
Tournament selection will depend on the games offered by the platform, but you should be able to find bets for most esports tournaments.
In which US states can I bet on esports?
Esports betting is 100% legal in Nevada, NJ, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Esports betting is regulated, but not 100% legal in Arkansas, Delaware, NY, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Rhode Island, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.
How old do I have to be to bet on esports in the US?
The legal age to bet is 21 in most states while it is 18 in others.
Featured Image Editorial Credit: Leonel Calara / Shutterstock.com