We at GreatGamers are have very different opinions on betting in esports. Some of us think it's a perfect tool to finance the discipline's development - and that it brings the esports experience even closer to the "normal" sports one. Others, though, see betting as a cancerous tumor that provides just another money-related issue to the industry already infested with lootboxes and microtransactions.
Under your skin
Betting in general is a huge, and a very complicated business. Licenses, regulations and laws - regional, national and international - are extremely complex, as gambling (part of which betting technically is), for obvious reasons, is not an activity like any other. Hence, starting a betting business in esports is not as easy as a lot of people think...
...if you use real money, that is. To counter regulations, services like SkinGame or CSGOPositive offer what is called skin betting: you earn your skins while playing and lootboxing in games like CS:GO or DotA2, and then you bet those skins agains others. The tricky part is, the skins you won, are perfectly sellable on real market for real money. As Business Insider tells us, in 2016, sites such as CSGO Lotto, CSGO Lounge, and CSGO Diamonds dealt with a lawsuit filed by a player against the owners of the gambling sites and Valve Corporation, which produced and developed CS:GO. The suit claimed that Valve was "complicit in creating, sustaining and facilitating [a] market" that permitted players (including underage players) to skin bet in the game.
Valve was eventually cleaned from these accusations, having sent a lot of sease-and-desist to a lot of trading websites, but the business of half-legal skin betting still marches on.
Don't believe skins can bring you cash? Check this out - and we're not even talking serious, high-priced stuff:
Where's the money, Lebowski?
The esports betting market is enormous and ever growing. It's a known fact. Some people (like a consultancy company called SCCG) forcast that in 2020 the growth of all esports-related industries will be to around $12.9 Billion. There is also an estimate of 6.5 Million unique participants placing wagers on esports games.
So, a customer would be placing ~$2000 in bets. Not bad, eh?
And yet, although this may seem a large amount, this is well below the average of the mainstream sports betting and traditional online gambling. The annual loss on these wagers is around $100, which is lower than the average loss for traditional gambling. This often encourages more people to start placing bets. In 2017 there was a drop of total bets placed - they went down to $3 billion from $5.5 billion. This is a direct effect of the restrictions valve placed on skin betting discussed above. But as we know, people in esports are real warriors, and there is little doubt that the overall numbers will break records soon.
What types of bets exist?
In esports betting, there are five main types of bets; Outright, Match, Handicap, Accumulator, and Special.
Outright bets are the ones you see in pretty much every esports event and tournament. Depending on the game being played, the bet is placed on a player or team (makes sense). Like in lots of sports - for example football with it's World Cup taking place right now - the bet is being placed on the entirety of the tournament. As there are often many teams and players competing (I mean, "often" means "always" when we're talking about serious events), the odds will be quite high. It will be hard to find a match favorite with odds higher than 2 to 1 in a single match, but in a tournament, for an outright bet, it will be common to find odds around 6 to 1 for a tournament favorite. The other style of outright bet is having bets placed on statistics rather than overall game outcome, such as most kills. Yes, betting can be cynially bloodthursty .
Match Bets are bets that are (surpisingly) placed on a single match. The bet is placed on the outcome. Depending on the game there are three options - Win, Lose, and Draw. Match bets are the simplest form of bets, and not just in esports, which is why they also are the most common form betting. Either Cash, Skins or Cryptocurrency can be used depending on the bookkeeper.
Handicap Bets are a way to get more value from a match with low odds. Those who think that those bets can only be placed by handicapped people are wrong. A handicap essentially places a minus handicap against the player that is the favorite to win whereas the player who is less likely to win gains a positive handicap. This means the player less likely to win gets a head start, and the favorite must play catch-up. Typically, the odds for both players will be around 1.9.
Accumulator Bets are often used if the better is struggling to get value from their bets. In its purest form, it is - just as the name suggests - an accumulation of bets. Rather than waiting for merely one wager, the dude or the girl willing to risk his or her money on those Overwatch pros, is waiting for multiple simultaneously. An accumulator is riskier, but those risks yield a greater reward. This is often where large sums of money are won. It's not rare to see people winning thousands from bets of $2- 3 (by "not rare" I don't mean that it happens all the time, cause remember that betting is a risky thing ; although, where such gains exists, they are most likely due to Accumulator Bets).
Special Bets are the least common type of bet for esports. They are available in more traditional sports, so it is likely that one day they will become more commonplace in the esports industry -
They are often referred to as a "Novelty bets". They offer odds on something that is very unlikely to happen within a tournament. For example, a common type of bet you will see placed on some baseball game sport is a streaker appearing on the pitch (I had to give an example from something non-football). They are often bets placed just for a bit of harmless fun to make an event more interesting and with decent odds.
Should I bet?
Depends on two things: how much free money you have, and how much of an expert in a certain game / tournament you are. Maybe, you will bet one day to who will get the GreatGamers awards.
Tell us what you think about esports betting in comments!