Why Betting Is the Most Underrated Part of Esports

By Michael Stevens in Esports on November 3, 2019


Minute Read

When it comes to esports growth, the first things that come to mind are the massive tournaments and packed arenas. Competitive gaming has grown to the point where it’s become a popular spectator sport around the world.

Therefore, most of the current esports investments are on the teams and leagues. Celebrities like Drake, Jennifer Lopez, and Steph Curry have poured money into these aspects of the industry.

But one of the most underserved parts of esports is the betting side. While many online bookmakers offer esports gambling, there’s still a lot of room for growth.

That said, I’ll discuss why this sector of the industry presents such an opportunity. But first, I’m going to cover more on exactly how competitive gaming got to this point.

The Rise of the Esports Industry

Esports were far from a global phenomenon over a decade ago. In fact, it was hard to find many tournaments outside of South Korea.

Most gamers had to move to Korea and focus on StarCraft if they wanted any shot at being a professional.

Eventually, the market expanded to include other games. But esports was still an underground activity for the most part.

By the mid-2010s, Valve was giving the industry a much-needed boost. The famed game publisher started a skins-trading industry through Dota 2 and Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO).

Screenshot of CS:GO Videogame

Players quickly took to the idea of buying/trading unique weapons and items. Suddenly, huge in-game economies dedicated to skins sprang up.

But gamers weren’t just earning, buying, and trading skins. They also started gambling for them.

The ugly side of this new industry was underage wagering. Illegal betting sites — all of which ignored legal gambling ages and licensing requirements — served the need for skins betting unabashedly.

At its height, the skins wagering industry was handling $5 billion in annual bets. A good portion of this money came through kids using their parents’ credit cards to gamble online.

Valve finally got tired of taking the blame for third parties that offered skins gambling. They sent cease-and-desist letters to the biggest operators, most of which exited the industry by 2017.

As a result, the skins betting industry is now a shell of what it used to be. This segment did leave a lasting mark, though, by introducing more gamers to the idea of esports.

Skins wagering increased the competitive nature of amateur players. In turn, these same gamers became more interested in seeing how the pros play.

Another byproduct of skins gambling is that it showed traditional online bookmakers the demand for this style of betting.

From Skins to Sportsbooks

Obviously, regular bookmakers offer a different service than skins sites. Nevertheless, they’re essentially serving the same customer base, minus the underage segment.

Plenty of betting sites now feature esports lines. Both regulated and unregulated bookmakers have seen large returns from the activity.

Many Americans deal with unregulated operators, which are based in places like Antigua, Belize, Costa Rica, and Panama.

These sites aren’t always trustworthy. But they at least pay more attention to customers’ ages than the aforementioned skins services.

Regulated bookmakers in countries like the UK, France, Italy, and Spain also offer esports gambling. These operations are usually reputable, having gone through a stringent licensing process.

Chances are that many other nations will try cashing in on this rising industry. After all, the amount wagered on esports in the US alone is expected to hit $23.5 billion.

At the time of this writing, New Jersey is the only state with a regulated online esports betting market. One can only imagine how much this type of wagering will grow as it becomes available in more states and countries.

Why Is Esports Betting Set to Take Off?

Esports gambling has already arrived to a degree. However, it’s not exactly on par with the Super Bowl or World Cup regarding total betting action.

There’s a lot of room for growth within the industry. Those involved in bookmaking will soon come to see this growth potential based on several reasons.

First off, esportsbooks don’t have to pay licensing fees to publishers. Contrast this to leagues and esports teams, which must front various fees to be involved.

Another benefit is that betting sites don’t have to invest in a single esport. Such investments can be risky when considering the hot-and-cold nature that the industry has for certain games.

One year, Dota 2 may be the hit game. The next, Fortnite could capture everybody’s attention.

Screenshot of Dota 2 Videogame

A bookmaker doesn’t have to worry about this fickle nature. Instead, they can just offer lots of bets on whatever is popular at the moment.

These attractive aspects are likely to draw more betting sites into the fray. As this happens, bookmakers will spend more time marketing esports and, in turn, attract more gamblers.

A Fresh Industry

Online sports betting was once the new thing. First, offshore bookmakers capitalized on sports gambling from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s.

Regulated sportsbooks then brought the activity to mainstream audiences. Gamblers would see their favorite teams/athletes associated with a specific sportsbook and rush to place their bets.

These days, though, internet betting is nothing new. The market is saturated more than anything.

This isn’t to say that online bookmakers aren’t still profiting off sports gambling. But a newer operator will have more difficulty coming in and competing with established competitors.

Esports, however, are a different story. Competitive gaming is still relatively new to the average gambler.

Additionally, esports give betting sites a chance to capture young gamblers’ attention. A 21-year-old who has no in interest wagering on basketball or football may be fully interested in gaming.

Taking everything into account, you can likely expect plenty of new operators in the coming years.

How Can You Get Involved in Esports Betting?

You may have no interest in entering esports gambling from a business standpoint. But the good news is that you have numerous chances to participate from a casual gambler’s perspective.

Plenty of online bookmakers now offer esports lines. These include both traditional betting sites and esportsbooks.

The latter are entirely dedicated to competitive gaming. They have more markets and bet types than regular sports gambling sites.

You don’t necessarily have to choose an esportsbook. But I highly recommend one if you’re serious about wagering on competitive gaming.

Once you decide on a betting site, the next step is to register for an account. Much like traditional sports gambling sites, registration is a breeze at esports betting hubs.

After completing the account registration, you need to make a deposit. Most betting sites accept major credit cards, bitcoin, e-wallets, and bank transfers.

You’ll also want to pay special attention to any available bonus offers. Many sites give new players either a free bet or deposit bonus.

The last step is to start wagering on your favorite video games. You should have no problem with this if you’re familiar with common bet types and odds.

If not, then you can learn most of this info within 10-15 minutes. This small-time investment is a small price to pay for all the fun that you’ll have with esports betting.


Most of the attention associated with esports’ rise is on the teams, leagues, and variety of tournaments. After all, these are the factors that draw fans.

However, the betting side of esports should also prove to be a boon. What began with skins gambling is spawning into a full-fledged betting market.

Many online bookmakers are already serving this industry. Plenty more will likely enter the fray within the coming years.

Some of the key factors that’ll draw operators include:

  • No fees paid to publishers
  • The ability to focus on multiple games
  • A fresh industry

That said, you can likely expect to have many more options when it comes to esports betting both in the regulated and unregulated sectors.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for Panoramacity since early 2016.

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