Two industries that have exploded the past couple of years are Bitcoin and esports. Both are massive industries in their own right. Experts estimate that esports will bring in $1.5 billion in revenue annually by 2020. And Bitcoin’s market cap surpassed $100 billion at the end of 2017.
In this guide, we want to talk about the intersection of these two gigantic industries – using Bitcoin to gamble on esports online. We’ll talk more about your options and what to look for in the guide below.
The very first step to take before you make any bets is to choose a sportsbook. Our top picks are below. These are the best sportsbooks in the world if you want to make bets on esports using crypto like Bitcoin.
These are excellent choices above. You can join any bookmaker and have an excellent time. That’s not just hot air, either – you can read about all the effort we put into ranking sites in the following section.
We also provide recommendations for other types of bettors. For example, we have guides that recommend esports sites based on where you’re betting from. You’ll find those guides below.
You’ll also find some other Bitcoin and cryptocurrency resources further down this page. Many of those recommend sites in other categories, too.
But how do you know you can trust our recommendations? Do we just pick random sportsbooks to recommend, or is there a process to the madness?
Read the next section to find out.
About Our Recommended Esports Betting Sites
It’s important to us that you know that our recommendations aren’t made off the cuff. They’re part of a lengthy process that we don’t take lightly.
What’s our process look like? Well, we spend several hours researching each sportsbook. We look for information regarding the following factors.
License – Does the betting site have a current license? Which jurisdictions are their licenses through? Has their license ever been suspended or revoked?
Reputation – A license will only take a sportsbook so far. This is why we also look to see how the community feels and what they like most or least about them.
Offers – We look at the different types of offers the sportsbook has and how many of them apply to esports bettors. Equally as important are their terms. We read their bonus terms to ensure their playthrough requirements are reasonable and not predatory.
Mobile Betting – Most people use their phones to communicate, play games, and bet sports nowadays. So, it’s important that the betting sites we recommend offer a native app or compatible mobile browser sportsbook.
Support – You’re going to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars at the sportsbook you join. This is why it’s so important to us that the site has top-notch customer support. They need to have several channels you can use to reach them. It’s also important that they respond quickly and actually help you with your problem.
These are make-or-break items that apply to all sportsbooks. If they fail in any one of these areas, it’s hard to give them a good rating, much less recommend them to our readers.
But that’s not all we look for. We also dig into each betting site to ensure that they’ll be a good match for our Bitcoin esports bettors. This means we look for the following things.
The esports games, matches, and markets you can bet on. The more, the better
Whether you can watch live streams/matches
The types of betting features or options the sportsbook has, such as early cash-outs or team/match data
If you can join and bet anonymously – an option that some people love that’s only available at Bitcoin-exclusive bookmakers
How fast you will receive your payments
Whether the sportsbook offers fee-free banking
This entire process of researching and reviewing sites takes hours. We take into consideration our own personal experiences, as well as the experiences of others. Then we use all this information to give each sportsbook a rating.
It’s important to also note that these ratings aren’t just about esports orBitcoin betting sites, but rather the two of them combined. Our recommendations are of sportsbooks that offer the best of both worlds.
Those are the rankings you see above in the table – the rankings we re-review and update as necessary.
This is how you know you can trust our recommendations.
A Brief Overview of Esports’ Explosive Growth
Video games have been around forever. We were playing the Atari in the ‘70s and the first Nintendo console in the ‘80s. Heck, many of the games that are played competitively have been around for a decade or two.
However, esports is relatively new. It grew in popularity in the 2000s, and by 2010, it became a staple in the video game industry. Developers even started to create games with the professional esports subculture in mind.
The annual revenue was $345 million, which was dwarfed by the NHL, NBA, MLB, and NFL, which have revenues between $4.5 and $14 billion. However, esports is expected to reach $1.5 billion globally by 2020. That’s without taking esports betting into account.
Those are not the only figures you want to look at, either. Another figure you want to look at is the prize pools gamers are playing for.
The 2018 International Dota2 championships had a $25 million prize pool. That’s a massive prize pool that loses to the $43.8 million the Wimbledon 2018 had but crushes the Daytona 500 ($15.5 million) and 2018 U.S. Open ($12 million).
The 2017 LoL Championship had a huge prize pool, too – $4.9 million. This was a considerable amount more than the 2018 Tour de France ($2.7 million) or the 2018 Kentucky Derby ($2 million).
This growth has happened in just the past 7-8 years. That’s what’s so crazy.
Here’s another example – viewership. ESPN – which has been around since 1979 and is the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” – receives 7.1 million viewers daily. However, Twitch – the world’s largest live streaming platform – receives 8.5 million daily views.
Those numbers are nothing compared to the League of Legends World Championships in 2016. They received 43 million viewers, which is 12 million more than who watched Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
What’s even more nuts is that 40% of the people watching don’t even play video games.
Where Esports May Be Headed
Esports isn’t slowing down at all. Everyone is looking to get in on the action.
Take the NBA, for example. They’ve partnered with Take-Two Interactive to form the NBA 2K League. They announced the league in early 2017, and 17 of the 30 NBA teams have their own NBA 2K League not but a couple of months later.
The first season started in May 2018 and ended on August 25th, 2018, with the Knicks Gaming team winning the championship.
This won’t be the only season, either. The NBA 2K League and Twitch announced a multiyear agreement to live stream all the games. More teams have joined the league, too. So you know there’s more to come.
Colleges are getting in on the action, too. In March 2017, the Big Ten Conference crowned a League of Legends champ and was the first collegiate sports league to do so. They broadcasted it on the Big Ten Network. Pac-12 schools are considering doing something similar.
Then there’s the possibility of esports making it into the Olympics. Yes, you read that right – esports might become an Olympic event. People figured esports would be introduced as early as the 2020 Tokyo Games. However, more recent reports have suggested that the soonest we’ll see esports in the Olympics is at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France.
They have some hurdles they need to clear before they get there. For one thing, the Olympics have their own set of values, which don’t allow violence.
That’s okay, though, because there are plenty of other games that can be played that don’t have violence. We’ll look at some of those games later on.
The bottom line – esports isn’t slowing down. It’s estimated that 427 million people will watch esports by the year 2019. You might be one of them, if you’re not already – especially if you plan to bet on esports once you read this guide.
Why Esports Bettors Should Consider Using Bitcoin
Let’s talk a little about Bitcoin and why esports bettors should consider using it. First things first, what is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a digital, decentralized currency. In English, that means that Bitcoin is a currency that you can buy, invest in, and use that has no government or third-party oversight. It’s a peer-to-peer currency.
Bitcoin is also referred to as a cryptocurrency. There are several cryptocurrencies that generally work the same way and have similar benefits to Bitcoin. A couple other examples include Ethereum, Dogecoin, and Litecoin.
Owning Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can be risky. Make sure you understand the risks involved before investing your money.
For one thing, its value fluctuates from day to day. Sometimes the swings are huge. You can buy Bitcoin for $7,000 per coin one day and watch it plummet to $5,500 the next.
Bitcoin also has no oversight, which leaves the doors open for scammers. People can say they’re sending you money, then never send it, and you won’t ever hear from them again.
You also have shady people using Bitcoin to sell illegal drugs, firearms, and other illegal things on the black market.
However, most of these things can be avoided or managed with a little education. We’ll provide you with a few resources at the end of this section.
But first, since we talked about some of the downsides to using Bitcoin, we now want to cover some of the reasons you should consider using it to gamble on esports online.
The following are some of the most important reasons why you might want to consider using Bitcoin.
When you use Bitcoin, you don’t have to create an account or give anyone your details to buy, sell, or use it. You use addresses instead, which are made up of a long string of numbers and letters.
Every time a payment is processed, you see this address logged onto the blockchain, a public ledger that everyone can see.
This means that if you join a Bitcoin-exclusive sportsbook – one that only accepts Bitcoin for payment – you’ll be able to bet anonymously. No one will know you’re betting online. You won’t have to give the sportsbook your personal information, either.
Another benefit to using Bitcoin is that payments are processed much faster compared to traditional payment methods. The reason for this is pretty simple.Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer currency – there are no 3rd parties to wait on.
This cuts payment timeframes to basically nothing. Instead of waiting 5-7 days for a check, credit/debit card payment, or a couple of days for an e-wallet transfer, you might wait 15 minutes to an hour.
3Low or Zero Withdrawal Fees
Since there are no third-party processors – there are no middlemen handling payments – there’s no reason for sportsbooks to charge you banking fees. And most don’t.
You might have to pay a small fee for the blockchain to process your payment. But this amount is tiny and pales in comparison to the 5% to 12% or $35-$75 that many sites charge to cash you out.
Don’t forget that you should also be able to avoid having to pay any fees your bank might charge, such as $35 or more for an incoming bank wire.
4Deposit and Bet Larger Amounts
One of the risks betting sites take on is players having the option to submit chargebacks on their debit and credit card deposits. Someone could play, lose their money, and then submit the chargeback.
This costs sportsbooks money. It also costs honest people like us money because sportsbooks will charge higher fees or impose lower limits to offset their costs and manage their risk.
Bitcoin solves this problem, though. Once you send your Bitcoin to a user, there’s nothing you can do to get it back. The only way to get it back is if the user you sent the crypto to decides to send it back.
Since there’s less (if not zero) risk for the sportsbook, they can and often do allow players to deposit and bet more money.
5Americans Can Bet Hassle-Free
It can be a major pain in the rear for Americans to bet online. Due to the UIGEA, banks aren’t supposed to process payments to/from offshore gambling sites because offshore bookmakers are operating illegally.
This can cause several headaches for Americans. You might not be able to make a deposit because your bank won’t approve it. Or the sportsbook might not be able to find a processor to handle the payments. Incoming payments or checks might be bad or turned down. The problems can go on and on.
Bitcoin side-steps all of this. There’s no government oversight, which means there’s no one telling you how you can or can’t spend your money. There are no third-party processors or banks to worry about. And payments ship fast.
These are the reasons why Americans – and anyone else interesting in betting on esports – should strongly consider using Bitcoin to bet online. If you’re interested in giving it a shot, the following guides should help you get started.
What Are the Most Popular Video Games for Esports Betting?
What if you’re new to all of this? Say you’ve never bet on esports before. Where should you start? What esports games or matches should you bet on?
Our first recommendation would be to start with what you know or like. Now, that might not be video games, but maybe you like basketball. In that case, betting on NBA 2K would make sense. If you like football, bet on Madden.
If neither of those appeal to you, then maybe choose another popular game based on the following criteria.
5 Most Popular Games Based on Prize Money
Here are the top five esports games in the world based on prize money awarded.
Dota2 – $169,669,866.45
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – $60,224,736.20
League of Legends – $55,358,454.16
StarCraft II – $27,438,769.55
Heroes of the Storm – $14,628,269.93
5 Most Watched Games on Twitch and YouTube
The following were the five most watched games on Twitch in August 2018.
Dota2 – 47.3 million hours
League of Legends – 19.5 million hours
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – 7.4 million hours
Hearthstone – 5.1 million hours
Street Fighter V – 3 million hours
And here’s the YouTube list
League of Legends – 8.9 million hours
Dota2 – 3.3 million hours
Fortnite – 400,000 hours
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege – 400,000 hours
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds – 400,000 hours
Ultimately, you can’t go wrong betting on League of Legends, Dota2, StarCraft II, and CS:GO. Just remember, though, that the most popular games are always subject to change. New games can come along and overtake existing ones, or games can just drop out of favor for some reason.
We recommend you start by betting on the most popular games because you’ll have more matches and leagues to bet on. You’ll likely have access to more live streams, betting data, and other features, too.
And by betting on more popular games to start, more sportsbooks are likely to offer action on them. This means you’ll have more choices for where to betandhave more betting options available.
Bitcoin and esports are two crazy huge markets that you’d have to be blind not to have noticed. Millions and billions of dollars are passing through both industries in the form of ad money, prize pools, player salaries, and more.
That’s not even taking online gambling into account.
So, it’s a no-brainer to recommend that our readers give esports betting with Bitcoin a closer look. There are so many benefits to using Bitcoin ranging from anonymity to higher limits that it’d be crazy not to.
Then you have esports’ year over year growth. This means that as time goes on, you can expect to have more opportunities in terms of bookmakers to join, and esports games and markets to bet on.
We suggest you hop on board this wagon while things are still early. You can even say you were one of the early adopters.
And the fastest and safest way to get started is to choose a trusty bookmaker to bet with. You’ll find an entire list of them at the top of this page.
Scroll up and choose an esports bookmaker to join now.