Casinos around the world have been forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, brick-and-mortar gambling institutions aren’t the only ones who’ve been affected. Sportsbooks have also been hit hard, as most major sporting leagues have either cancelled or indefinitely postponed their seasons.

As online bookies desperately search for a way to retain customers, they’re turning to a relatively new option. It’s known as “Esports,” and it’s become something of a phenomenon over the last decade.

What is Esports?

In the simplest terms, esports takes video games and transforms them into a competitive sport. Some events feature one-on-one play, although team competitions have proved to be the most popular with fans.

Yes, there are fans, and lots of them. In 2017, for example, a research firm found that esports drew 258 million unique viewers. By comparison, the NFL drew 204 million unique viewers for their 2016 regular season games.

Most are content to watch games via online streaming services such as Twitch. However, more and more esports arenas are being built, allowing thousands to cheer on their favourite teams in person. Players have their own followings, and many have become millionaires thanks to a combination of winnings, merchandise, and sponsors.

Professional leagues are popping up all over the globe, and a combination of investors and fans have sent profits through the roof. Many tournaments offer prize pools worth millions, and the overall industry is expected to make $2 billion annually by 2021.

Betting on Esports

Thanks to COVID-19, more people than usual are stuck at home with an excess of free time. Since most sports are on hold, some are beginning to discover the allure of esports. And, of course, those desperate to wager on something are also taking notice.

Betting on esports is similar to placing a wager on any other team sport. The most common option is to bet on the winning team. However, some bookies have a wide array of options available. As always, it helps to shop around.

Cash vs Skins

When you bet with a sportsbook, you’ll be making a standard cash wager. In other words, you’ll either win or lose money, depending on the outcome of the content.

However, a form of gambling known as “skin betting” is also wildly popular. This is where players put their own stock of custom in-game gear on the line. If they win, they’ll receive a new piece of gear to sell, trade, or hold onto.

Audience members watch an esports match in an arena.

Most Popular Esports Games

Each video game is like a whole other sport, as no two are alike. While the popularity of titles can rise or fall over time, the following are currently some of the biggest.

  • Overwatch – A first-person shooter that pits two teams of six against each other as they attempt to escort payloads across a map or defend locations. Each player can choose from a roster of over 30 characters.
  • Fortnite – This game has three distinct modes, with Fortnite Battle Royale being the most popular. This option pits up to 100 players against each other, all with the goal of being the last player standing. Players can fight alone, with a partner, or in a squad with a maximum of four.
  • League of Legends – This online battle arena game pits teams of champions against one another. Dozens of available characters range from fantasy to steampunk, and their powers and abilities increase during play. This is currently the most watched esport on the planet.
  • Dota 2 – This multiplayer battle arena game takes place between two teams, each with five powerful fantasy character. Player versus player combat is emphasized, with the ultimate goal being to destroy the opposing team’s base. This is currently the most lucrative game in all of esports.
  • Starcraft II – This real-time strategy game was released in three parts. Each expansion of the game focuses on a different race fighting for supremacy in space. Available in both single and multiplayer mode.
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – Each match of this first-person shooter pits a team of terrorists against counter-terrorists. It was released in 2012 and boasts around 11 million players per month.

Other Egame Betting Options

If you’re looking for something to wager on, there are other egaming options currently available. Some bookmakers are allowing bets on computer simulated versions of NBA2K20 and Madden NFL 20. ESPN is also currently airing an NBA2K20 tournament in which real basketball stars compete against one another.

Additional Reading

For more news from the world of gambling, be sure to look at the following: