eSports Sportsbooks - esports betting sites and online esports sportsbook sites
I know that I have heard people talk about them before … but what even are eSports?
I suppose the best place to start is at the beginning, right? Before we can go into all of details regarding the best eSports sportsbooks and what makes one eSports betting site better than the next, we must first set a solid foundation regarding what eSports are, how they got their start, and where they seem to be going. How else would one know whether eSports betting is for them or not?
eSports (not to be confused with the video game developer, EA Sports, of course) is a form of organized video game competition. Technically considered a sport, naturally there are no athletics required of eSports players – at least not in the way we might traditionally define “athleticism.” There is, however, plenty of virtual athleticism required to be a professional eSports player. In other words, you have to be the Labron James of your favorite video game in order to make it in this sport.
eSports competitions are often very large affairs. They have been known to sell out arenas, in which players’ screens are broadcast for all to see on 360-degree Jumbotrons. Fans and fellow players alike populate the stands, rooting for their favorite players. Matchups can take place between individuals, doubles, or on teams. A team of eSports players is usually put together by a sponsor (often a video game developer, hardware company, or the like).
It is true that organized gaming competitions have been a part of video game culture for quite some time (remember those enormous Nintendo and Sega competitions that took the world by storm in the 90s? How about the arcade contests even before that?). However, eSports as it exists today (as a professional organized sport) did not really take off until the latter half of the 2000s. The advent of live streaming technology was largely responsible for the surge in eSports’ popularity.
By the middle of the 2010s, eSports had grown to become a significant (and inseparable) aspect of the video game industry. In fact, developers began funding events and designing games specifically with tournament style play in mind. Today, eSports and video games are so intertwined, I doubt they will ever be separated again. eSports is an integral and profoundly popular part of video gaming culture.
Are eSports considered sports? How can they be on a sportsbook if they are just people sitting around playing video games?
It has been interesting to watch the controversy surrounding whether it was okay to label eSports as a “sport.” There are, of course, different perspectives to this debate: there are those who believe that the popularity of some games justifies their being considered as sports, and there are those who believe that playing video games in no way, shape, or form, can ever be put in the same group as “true sports.”
Popularity, though, is not the only piece of evidence used by proponents of calling eSports “sports.” Sporters (if we can call them that) often argue that anything can be considered a sport that requires “careful planning, precise timing, and skillful execution.” Furthermore, sporters also point to the fact that not all “traditional” sports require physical exertion or outdoors play (think of chess, darts, billiards, etc.).
Nevertheless, there is certainly a great deal of pushback from, let’s call them “sports truthers,” who think it laughable that anyone would even consider putting eSports in the same category as basketball, football, baseball, or the like. When ESPN acquired the video game streaming company Twitch, for instance, they were quick to distance themselves from any suggestion that this move implied that they believed eSports were sports proper. ESPN president John Skipper described eSports as “not a sport – [they are] a competition.” On a Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel episode, too, panelists laughed away the suggestion that eSports might be considered “sports.”
How have these two camps been able to meet in the middle? Well, there has been a bit of linguistic acrobatics involved. Some refer to eSports as a “mind sport,” satisfying both sides of the debate. Sporters can rest easy by eSports being called a sport, and sports truthers get their caveat – this term does not imply physical athleticism. Does everybody win with this term? Well, there is still a heated debate, but I think this label is probably as accurate as it gets.
Regardless of where you fall on the great eSports debate, there is a good chance that they will be officially inducted as an Olympic sport in the years to come. The International Olympics Committee released a statement on eSports in October of 2017, saying, “Competitive ‘esports’ could be considered as a sporting activity, and the players involved prepare and train with an intensity which may be comparable to athletes in traditional sports,” but any video games used for Olympic competition would have to be in accordance “with the rules and regulations of the Olympic movement.”
This decision still seems to be getting hashed out with members of the committee. The most recent news surrounding eSports consideration for the Olympic games occurred in December of 2019, when the IOC reiterated the fact that it would consider eSports for the Olympics, but that it would only consider games that simulated physical sports and that there were two paths for eSports Olympic consideration: 1.) games that somehow promote good physical and mental health lifestyles, and 2.) any virtual and augmented reality games that require some form of physical activity.
Although we are still eagerly awaiting the IOC’s final decision on eSports, two things remain certain: 1.) there are plenty of awesome eSports competitions going on right now, and 2.) if you are looking for a solid selection of sites that will let you bet money on eSports, you have come to the right place. When it comes to sportsbooks, whether eSports are “true sports” or not is not of much concern. All that matters is that they are competitions on which money can be wagered. Betting makes things so simple sometimes, doesn’t it?
What games can I bet on with eSports sportsbooks?
Well, as is the case with a more traditional online sportsbook that lets you bet on football, baseball, basketball, etc., the variety of eSports on which you can bet will depend entirely on which eSports sportsbook you end up choosing. eSports betting is not quite as established (yet) as your more traditional sportsbooks are, so, a lot of these eSports sportsbooks might look significantly slimmer than you are used to. There is a range of games available on any given site, but I have seen anywhere between 5 and 12 eSports categories offered on the best eSports betting sites.
When it comes to what games you can expect to be able to bet on, on these sportsbooks, well, that, too, differs from site to site. Generally speaking, though, there are a few games that tend to show up on just about every site, the games that, naturally, are played in the most tournaments. These games include:
-Call of Duty
-League of Legends
-Defense of the Ancients (DOTA 2)
-World of Tanks
I may be missing one or two that pop up every now and then, but these are the eSports that I have seen most frequently in my quest for the best eSports betting sites.
Do these sites let me live stream eSports competitions as well?
eSports betting sites are the ones that most consistently do have live streaming capabilities. This is somewhat common on traditional sportsbooks, too, but the coverage is nothing compared to that of eSports. Because live streaming is so integral to eSports broadcasts and competition, I think that you would be hard pressed to find an eSports sportsbook that does not have live streaming. One thing I know for sure: if an eSports betting site does not allow you to stream most of its featured tournaments, it is not worth your time or money.
Even if you are not a huge gaming fan, it might be worth looking into eSports betting simply because of how immersive and riveting it can be – it is like you are live betting every time. Plus, in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, eSports is going to be one of the few sports still being played. Keep your betting eye sharp while you wait for the world to kick back into gear … why not?
Do eSports betting sites accept players from the US?
Here’s the thing with that … eSports sportsbooks, regardless of whether they are considered real sports or not, are still definitely a real form of internet gambling. Therefore, finding a US eSports sportsbook is likely to be just as difficult as finding a traditional online US sportsbook. That being said, there is often a great deal of crossover between eSports sportsbook sites and traditional sportsbook sites. So, if you can find an online sportsbook that accepts US players, there is a good chance that it will also feature eSports.
Another glimmer of hope for my fellow Americans: eSports betting sites, as they cater to gaming culture (and thus are often made by members of the gaming community), tend to be a bit more technically savvy than your average traditional sportsbook. Therefore, a great deal of the best eSports betting sites probably accept Bitcoin – and if a betting site accepts Bitcoin, there is a much higher chance that it will accept US players as well.
So, what makes the best eSports betting site?
Honestly, when I am looking for the best eSports betting sites, my criteria are not all that different from when I am looking for the best betting sites of any sort. They must meet the same basic requirements: great site design and user experience, plenty of useful features, a solid spread of sports to bet on, plenty of active markets, good odds, alluring promos and bonuses are a plus, and a reputation of credibility, safety, and excellent customer service. Of course, this does not cover every single little thing that goes into a site being considered one of the best eSports betting sites on the web, but it is a good starting point for you to get a better idea of what to look for.
Still, though, I would like to push back against the idea that there is one monolithic eSports sportsbook site that is objectively better than all the rest. Each eSports sportsbook on this list is here for a reason, each excels at something different. Some offer incredible odds but are maybe lacking in site design. Others have beautifully intuitive and immersive sites but could stand to improve their spread of eSports available. In short, no site is perfect.
No site is perfect, surely, but some sites are going to be much closer to perfect for you. Finding the best eSports sportsbook is really just a matter of finding the eSports sportsbook that most closely aligns with how you prefer to bet on eSports. Of this list of the best eSports sportsbooks, I guarantee that you will find the right one for you.
And with that, happy betting and good luck. I truly hope that you find the perfect eSports sportsbook for you!