Esports is experiencing an explosive growth spurt. It’s expected to become a $1.5 billion industry by 2020.
That said, the sport is lagging a little in the United Kingdom. There’s no clear reason why. It could be due to the lackluster results from the country’s top teams and pros. However, it looks like they’re getting better, so maybe they will soon catch up with the rest of the world.
That means this is a perfect time to jump on the esports betting bandwagon. Get in now and try to find some value on your favorite UK teams, players, and games. Getting started is easy. The first step you need to take is to choose a quality sportsbook – such as one of the bookmakers in the list below.
Every bookmaker in the list above has been vetted by us to ensure that you’ll have a safe and enjoyable experience betting online. That includes making sure that each bookmaker will have plenty of esports betting opportunities, too.
Of course, you don’t have to take us at our word. You can see an explanation of everything we expect from the bookmakers we recommend in the following section. We’ve also published reviews you can read where you’ll learn what each sportsbook has to offer.
For everyone else, we’re going to cover a wide range of information below. After we talk about how we choose bookmakers, we’ll then discuss the rise of esports and betting in the UK. Then we’ll wrap things up with a shortlist of the most popular esports games you can bet on.
How We Choose Our Esports Bookmakers
Joining a bookmaker isn’t hard to do. All you need to do is find one that you like, create an account, and then make your deposit. You’ll be making bets in a matter of minutes.
The question is – will you like the sportsbook once you start betting?
So many people get in a rush to start betting right away, or maybe they see a deposit bonus they needed to claim yesterday. They get in a rush, make a bad decision, and end up joining a sportsbook they don’t like.
Or worse, they join a shady book.
We want to help you prevent that from happening. The best way to do that is to ensure that the sportsbook meets certain standards and offers esports betting opportunities before you sign up.
Let’s talk about our standards first.
The following are the minimum requirements or standards every betting site must meet before we’ll recommend them to our readers.
Every sportsbook must have a current license. Their license must be in good standing, and we prefer sites that have not had their licenses suspended or revoked.
We prefer sportsbooks licensed through the UKGC, MGA, or AGCC. We recommend you be cautious joining sportsbooks licensed/located in Panama or Costa Rica.
Some bookmakers look great at first glance. They have lots of esports markets, offers, and excellent customer service.
Then you look at their terms and conditions and realize they’re predatory.
This is why we comb each bookmaker’s terms and conditions to ensure their bonus terms, banking limits, win limits, and more are player-friendly.
Having a license is a good start. It means the sportsbook met the gambling commissions’ requirements to operate a gambling site.
That doesn’t mean they treat customers the right way, though. This is why we read forums to see how each sportsbook treats their customers, and we only recommend the ones that go above and beyond.
Quality Customer Support
Read through betting forums, and a common theme you’ll see are customers receiving poor customer support from sportsbooks.
That won’t fly with us. Not when we’re spending hundreds or thousands of dollars with them.
We look for bookmakers that offer multiple support channels, respond to support requests quickly, and are helpful and knowledgeable.
These are the bare minimum requirements. If a bookmaker fails in any of these areas, we simply won’t create an account, much less make a bet there. And you can bet that if we wouldn’t bet there, under no circumstances would we recommend you to.
The information above covered the minimum standards each sportsbook must meet before we’d consider joining them. However, those are just the basics. It’s also important to us that if we want to bet on esports, the sportsbook offers esports-related action, features, and promotions.
Here are a few things we look for.
What Esports Games Do They Offer?
Some bookmakers only cover the most popular games, such as Dota 2, StarCraft II, or League of Legends. But what if you want to bet on NBA 2K or Madden?
Make sure the sportsbook offers action on those games before you sign up.
What Markets Can You Bet On?
Some bookmakers cover the bare minimum – moneylines, spread betting, and so on.
The best sportsbooks will offer additional markets such as maps, first to x kills, headshots, and more.
Can You Watch Live Streams of Matches?
Sure, you could always log into Twitch and watch matches there. But why not kill two birds with one stone? Many sportsbooks will offer Twitch streams from inside the sportsbook. You can watch matches there while you bet.
What Features or Options Do They Offer?
Can you bet from your mobile phone? Do they offer live esports betting? Can you cash out of bets early? Do they offer any data or tips you can use to make your bets?
These are just some of the things we look for related to esports betting. They aren’t required. However, if you want to bet on esports regularly, then they are pretty darn important.
Once we have all the facts and have tested the sportsbooks ourselves – assuming they meet our high standards – only then do we recommend them to our readers.
The Rise of Esports
Chances are you’re aware of esports. You know it exists…unless you’ve been living under a rock. But do you know just how huge this industry is?
A decade ago, we weren’t even talking about it. Esports was just starting to gain traction. Tournaments were still small, and spectators were limited to friends and family.
Esports was nothing like it is today. Here are a few examples of how esports has grown to show you what we mean.
1Look at How Much Money Professional Gamers Earn
You think gamers were making hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars a few years ago? There’s no way.
Professional gamers can make anywhere from $8,000 to $15,000 per month in salary alone. That doesn’t include prize money, which can be tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even millions.
On top of that, they receive revenue from outside sources. They can make $3 per subscriber on Twitch or $1 for every 200,000 views in ad revenue from video platforms such as YouTube. Many videos receive hundreds of thousands or even millions of views.
Then there are company sponsorships, such as companies that make energy drinks, gaming chairs, or computer parts.
Top players can easily clear $100,000 to $500,000 annually. The best players in the world can earn even more than that.
2They’re Playing in Custom-Built Arenas
In 2015, the first custom arena was built for esports matches – the Esports Arena. The company that backed that arena is planning on building 10-15 more arenas over the next few years.
The Esports Arena in the Luxor (in Las Vegas) boasts 30,000 feet of gaming space, a gamer-inspired menu, 50-foot LED video wall, and the option to buy gaming passes so that you can play games, too.
3Esports Will Become an Olympic Sport
Don’t believe us? Just Google it and see for yourself.
There were talks about introducing esports at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. However, if that doesn’t happen, then the 2022 winter games in China or the 2024 Olympics in Paris are also currently in discussion.
Many professional athletes train several hours per day for as many as 6-7 days per week. Their training is essentially a full-time job, never mind the time they spend in competition.
Professional gamers are no different. One report looked at the pro gaming team LG Dire Wolves. They compete at League of Legends (LoL) tournaments. Here’s what a typical day looks for them.
8:00am – Wake up
8:30am-10:30am – Gym, shower, breakfast
10:30am-11:30am – Video review
12pm-3pm – First team practice block (aka scrims)
3pm-4pm – Break
4pm-7pm – Second team practice block (scrims)
7pm-8pm – Dinner
8pm – 12am – Solo practice
That’s 10 hours of hands-on practice. Then you add an hour for reviews on top of that. That’s 11 hours per day trying to perfect their craft.
Then there’s the gym. Obviously, they’re not running or jumping in competition. However, the gym helps them to keep their minds sharp and to prevent injuries due to bad posture and carpal tunnel.
Many professional gaming teams have coaches, too. And if you think that’s shocking, Google “pro gamer coaches,” and you’ll see job listings, options to hire a coach, and more.
5Millions of People Watch Esports Matches
What makes this industry so large and lucrative is all the people who watch it. For example, 43 million people watched the League of Legends final in 2016. Compare that to the 31 million people who watched Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
The 2017 LoL World Championship drew 106 million viewers. And that’s nothing compared to the 450 million or more people who are expected to be esports spectators in 2019.
What’s absolutely nuts about those viewer numbers is that an estimated 40% of them don’t even play video games themselves. Not even for fun.
If that doesn’t clue you in to esports’ explosive growth or popularity, nothing else will.
Esports Betting in the UK
If esports is growing in popularity, you can bet that betting on esports is growing, too.
One report showed that only a small portion of people who have watched esports have also bet on it – less than 7%. And only 35% of the people surveyed are even aware that esports exists. This data was collected from people living in the UK.
However, other reports show that UK-based pro gamers are lagging behind those in other countries in terms of results and winnings. This might explain why there’s less interest in it.
The UK teams are slowly catching up, though, so it’s reasonable to think that as they get better, the interest in watching or betting on the sport will rise, too.
What’s great about that for UK bettors is all the options you have for where to bet. Plenty of UK bookmakers cover esports tournaments.
We’ve listed several great options above. All those sportsbooks have been vetted by us to not only accept players from the United Kingdom but to also offer an excellent assortment of esports betting markets and offers.
Find Sites and Guides for Specific Types of Esports Games
One of the things you’ll notice once you get into esports betting are all the games you can bet on. And like any other type of sports you can bet on, we recommend that you learn one or two sports inside and out before you move on to learning others.
In other words, learn how to bet basketball profitably before you try to bet on soccer games.
The point of doing this is that you can figure out what makes these games tick, what typical odds look like, and more so that you can become a profitable bettor.
With that in mind, we wanted to list some of the most popular esports games you can watch, play, and bet on. That way, you can decide where you might want to start first.
Bet on First-Person Shooter Matches
First-person shooters are firefighting games played from a first-person perspective. These games are both individual and team based.
Here are some of the most popular games you can bet on in this category.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – This game features two teams: the Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists. The Terrorists plant bombs or capture hostages while the Counter-Terrorists prevent bombs from being planted or rescue hostages.
Overwatch – This is a team-based game where each team works together to complete objectives. Objectives can include securing control points, transporting goods across a map, and more.
Other popular first-person shooter games include Call of Duty, Quake, Doom, Battlefield, and Team Fortress.
Bet on Sports Matches
Sports games are just how it sounds – these are games where you play football, basketball, soccer, and other sports as if you were in the big leagues.
The following are the most popular sports games you’ll find in esports.
NBA 2K – This is a well-known franchise that’s been coming out with new games every year since 1999. What’s unique about this game as it relates to esports is that the NBA is working with Take-Two Interactive to develop and run their own NBA 2K league. More than half of the NBA’s teams have their own esports basketball team.
Madden – This is another franchise that’s come out with new football games every year since 1993. This game is developed by EA Tiburon for EA Sports. One neat thing about this game is that Electronic Arts hosted a $1 million Madden NFL 17 Championship Series.
Rocket League – This game is a soccer game without people – cars are used to move the ball instead. This game was first released for the PS4 in July 2015. Several Rocket League competitions have been held by Twitch, ESL, and Major League Gaming, including a $100,000 2v2 tournament that you could watch on NBC Sports.
FIFA – This is a soccer game that’s been coming out every year since 1993 and is released by Electronic Arts (EA). You’ll find some of the largest FIFA Football communities in Germany where they’ve hosted the Electronic Sports League and the World League eSport Bundesliga.
Bet on Multiplayer Online Battle Arena Games
Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games are team-focused games where two teams of five players try to destroy each other’s base. Characters can often be upgraded to become more effective.
The following are some of the most popular MOBA games.
Dota 2 – This game is one of the most popular and profitable games in esports. For example, The International 2018 had a prize pool north of $25 million. Nearly $170 million has been awarded since 2013. The top 60 Dota 2 players in the world have all won more than $1 million in prize money.
League of Legends – This is another game that has led to millions of dollars in prize pools and tournament winnings. The LoL 2016 World Championship had a $5+ million prize pool. The year before that fell just shy of $5 million, as did the 2017 event. The top 7 players in the world all have won more than $500,000, with the top 3 having earned more than $900,000.
Other MOBA games you can play or bet on include Smite, Heroes of the Storm, and Defense of the Ancients.
Bet on Fighting Games
Fighting games are typically the two-player games where you choose from a list of characters, all of whom have a different list of combat or fighting moves. To win, you usually have to win 2 out of 3 matches.
The following are the most popular fighting games you can play and bet on.
Street Fighter – The first Street Fighter was released in 1987 by Capcom. The franchise has sold more than 40 million units and more than 500,000 arcade units. Street Fighter is the third-biggest franchise for Capcom behind Resident Evil and Monster Hunter.
Super Smash Bros. – This is a crossover fighting game from Nintendo with characters that come from most of their own franchises. The first Smash Bros. was released for the Nintendo 64 in 1999. Competitions have been held since 2001. The Smash Wii U at EVO 2016 became the largest tournament ever with 2,662 players.
Other fighting games you can play or bet on include Marvel vs. Capcom, Killer Instinct, Tekken, and Mortal Kombat.
As we said above, we recommend you find one or two games to focus on. Our suggestion would be to choose games you enjoy playing or watching. If you don’t know what those are yet, see if you can play the games with a friend or at an arcade. You can also watch someone’s stream on Twitch.
Finding something you enjoy playing and/or watching will make the betting aspect of things that much better.
Esports and esports betting is huge right now, and it shows no signs of slowing down. We don’t blame you at all for being interested in it. In fact, we encourage you to jump in now while the industries are still young.
If you have a specific game you want to bet on in mind, we strongly encourage you to look at the game guides and betting site recommendations listed in the previous section. Those will give you betting site recommendations more tailored to the games you want to focus on.
However, if you want a more general esports betting experience, you can’t go wrong with our list of bookmakers located at the top of this page. Just scroll up and choose a bookmaker to get started now.