Esports Betting Guide

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You can legally bet on esports year-round in three US states: Colorado, Tennessee, and New Jersey. In Nevada, licensed sportsbooks can request approval for esports events, and regulators have approved esports betting in the past. This esports betting guide will answer all your questions about how to bet on esports and where you can do it legally.

Other US states with legal sports betting aside from those listed above do not offer esports betting. The only exception is retail sportsbooks located on tribal lands in Michigan and New York, which can legally accept esports bets.

Best Online Sportsbooks For Esports Betting In The US

SportsbookStatesNotes
TwinSpiresCO, NJOffers betting on Call of Duty, League of Legends, Overwatch, and more almost every day.
PointsBetCO, NJIf your esport isn’t listed, use the “Name a Bet” function to request esport bets.
William Hill (Caesars Sportsbook)CO, NJ, NV, TNLimited to the biggest events or by request.
DraftKingsCO, NJ, TNDraftKings Daily Fantasy esports indicates the sportsbook would be willing to offer esports betting in states that allow it.
BetMGMCO, NJ, NV, TNLimited to the biggest events or by request.
BetRiversCO, NJ (as SugarHouse)Limited to the biggest events or by request.

Overview Of Each US State That Allows Betting On Esports

Colorado Esports Betting

Colorado boasts the best esports betting market in the US. According to the state’s approved list of sports wagers, you can bet on the following 14 esports events and tournaments:

  • Call of Duty (COD)
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO)
  • Dota 2
  • League of Legends (LoL)
  • E-Nascar
  • NBA2K
  • Overwatch
  • Rainbow Six
  • Intel Extreme Masters XV
  • DreamHack Masters Winter 
  • ESEA Season 35
  • BTS Pro Series Season 3
  • ESL One Germany 
  • 2020 Global StarCraft II League Season 3

You can also place 19 different types of bets on esports events. However, the options will vary based on the esport as well as the sportsbook. These include:

  • 2 Way
  • First Blood – Map X
  • Group of Tournament Winner
  • Handicap Kills – Map X
  • Map Result Betting
  • Map Score (Best of 3);  Map Score (Best of 5)
  • Map Spread Betting
  • Map Total Betting
  • Map Winner
  • Match Winner
  • Region of Winner
  • Round Spread Betting for a Map
  • Round Total Betting for a Map
  • Spread Betting
  • Total Betting
  • Total Kills O/U – Map X
  • Tournament Winner
  • Winner of Group
  • Winning Region

Tennessee Esports Betting

Tennessee allows year-round esports betting on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) games and League of Legends (LoL) games.

However, according to the Tennessee Lottery’s Approved Events List, the only CS: GO betting option in Tennessee is Blast League. You get a few more options with League of Legends, including:

  • LCK- League of Legends Champions Korea
  • LCS- League of Legends Champions Series
  • LEC- League of Legends European Championship

The exact types of bets will be dependent on the sportsbook offering esports bets.

New Jersey Esports Betting

At the time of writing this article, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has last updated its Approved Events List on January 11, 2021, and the following esports were included:

  • eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series
  • Vie.GG Legend Series (CS: GO)
  • League of Legends World Championships

That means New Jersey esports betting is limited to big championship tournaments, but regular season leagues seem to be off the table. However, licensed operators can request additional eSports betting options, so that’s a possibility for the future.

Like with Tennessee, the types of eSports bets available will depend on the sports betting app.

Nevada Esports Betting

Nevada does not include esports betting on its List of Pre-Approved Events, but it has approved betting on esports in the past. According to its approvals page, the Nevada Gaming Control Board allowed operators to accept the bets on the following 2020 esports competitions:

  • 2020 ESL ONE-DOTA 2 Birmingham
  • 2020 DreamHack Masters Spring
  • ESL One: Road to Rio
  • ESL One Rio CS: GO Major 2020 
  • 2020 Call of Duty League
  • 2020 League of Legends European Masters
  • 2020 North America League of Legends Championship Series
  • 2020 League of Legends European Championship 
  • 2020 Overwatch League
  • 2020 ESL ONE-DOTA Los Angeles
  • 2020 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series 
  • 2020 Counter-Strike – ESL: Meisterschaft
  • ESL Pro League Season 11: North America

In 2019, Nevada also approved sports betting on the Winner of the Golden Tee 2019 World Championship.

Chances are that the 2021 esports betting landscape in Nevada will be similar to last year’s. It’s pending regulatory approval, but you can count on the biggest tournaments being represented on the Nevada sports betting apps and Vegas sportsbooks.

New York Esports Betting

New York has not yet launched online sports betting, but many Upstate casinos offer in-house retail sportsbooks on a variety of sports. And esports betting is allowed at any of the ones on tribal land. 

However, it can still be difficult to find an esports bet aside from the biggest tournaments, such as the League of Legends World Championships. We recommend that you call the sportsbook ahead of time to make sure they’re offering bets on your esport of choice.

Michigan Esports Betting

Michigan’s three Detroit-area casinos house sportsbooks that follow much of the same sports betting restrictions as online sportsbooks. That means no betting on esports. However, the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks located on tribal lands are not subject to the same restrictions and can offer esports betting.

As with New York, your best bet is to call some of your nearest retail sportsbooks to make sure they’re offering esports betting before you make the trip.

Esports Betting In The Rest Of The US

The following states allow online sports betting, but do not allow betting on esports:

As the popularity of esports grows, we expect more states to legalize the practice. Unfortunately, some of the hurdles include the fact that many professional esports athletes are under the age of 18, which is specifically restricted in many states. However, the same is true for international soccer, where players under 18 are somewhat common.

Time will tell. But for now, Tennessee, Colorado, New Jersey, and Nevada are your best options for esports betting.

The Current Status Of Esports Betting In The US

Esports betting in the US is just getting started, and that has a lot to do with the fact that sports betting was just recently legalized in the states. In fact, Colorado and Tennessee—two of the four states to allow esports betting—first launched online sports betting as recently as May 2020 and November 2020, respectively.

Right now, allowing esports betting in states with legal sportsbooks faces three hurdles:

  • Some of the professional esports players are under 18.
  • Many lawmakers are unaware of esports as a legitimate wagering option.
  • Many major sportsbooks have dragged their feet when it comes to requesting esports events.

Thankfully, when it comes to sports betting, supply usually rises to meet demand. If enough people want to bet on esports, the sportsbooks will push to make it happen. That of course extends to states that already allow it as well as states that haven’t approved betting on esports.

What a lot of sports betting operators are missing is the fact that they can attract new bettors simply by offering legal esports betting. By waiting on folks to request a bet rather than list it on the site, these companies are banking their esports offerings on a demand from existing sports bettors. 

But it stands to reason that most who bet on traditional sports aren’t interested in esports betting – and many esports bettors aren’t interested in betting on traditional sports.

Essentially, we don’t think it will be long before more legal US sports betting apps catch on to the demand for esports betting. 

In the meantime, you can check TwinSpires Sportsbook in Colorado or New Jersey for daily esports bets, or request a line from BetMGM, PointsBet, William Hill (Caesars), DraftKings Sportsbook, or BetRivers/Sugarhouse.

Popular Esports, Events, and Tournaments

Most Popular Esports In The US

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, and Dota 2 are the most popular esports events worldwide. But US bettors have a different top three landscape that includes Call of Duty, League of Legends, and Overwatch.

Call of Duty

Call of Duty is such a popular game, esports competitions cover multiple different Call of Duty titles. But the most popular is the one played in Call of Duty League (CDL), which is Black Ops: Cold War. The league includes 12 teams total, nine from the US, and one from Canada, the UK, and France. The 2020 champion was the Dallas Empire.

League of Legends

League of Legends (LoL) is an online battle arena game that dates back to 2009, but its popularity has only grown. Each player in the arena controls a character with a unique set of abilities, and the goal is to destroy the other team’s Nexus structure. The game is exclusively available on PC.

Overwatch

Overwatch League, often shortened to OWL, is the primary Overwatch betting outlet at US sportsbooks. The first-person shooter is similar to Call of Duty in both gameplay and how the league works. Rather than relegation and promotions from different professional tiers, a set number of teams compete in a regular season, then playoffs, then finals.

The Overwatch League has 20 teams total, 11 based in the US, four in China, two in Canada, and one team in South Korea, the UK, and France. The most recent champion was the San Francisco Shock. 

Other Popular Esports

The esports betting options can include all of the following titles:

  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO)
  • Dota 2
  • E-Nascar
  • NBA2K
  • Rainbow Six
  • StarCraft II

Biggest Esporting Events And Tournaments For US Bettors

Your best chance of finding esports betting at online sportsbooks in the US is during the more popular esports events and tournaments. The biggest events include:

  • DreamHack Masters
  • ESL One (CS: GO and Dota 2)
  • eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series
  • Vie.GG Legend Series (CS: GO)
  • League of Legends World Championships
  • League of Legends European Championship

In all four states with legal online esports betting, there’s a high likelihood of finding bets on those events. You can also request a line for any of those tournaments, and a sportsbook will usually oblige.

How To Place An Esports Bet Online In The US

You can bet on esports online in the US by joining a legal online sportsbook in New Jersey, Nevada, Tennessee, or Colorado. Just follow these steps:

  1. Visit the websites of legal online sportsbooks in your area and find one offering your preferred esports bet. You can also reach out to customer support to verify the sportsbook offers esports betting.
  2. Download the sportsbook app for iOS or Android, or join directly from the website.
  3. If you’re in Nevada, you’ll need to verify your account in person at the online sportsbook’s land-based location. If you’re in one of the other states, you can verify your account remotely.
  4. Choose whether to opt-in for the sportsbook’s welcome bonus by reading the terms and conditions. If you’re okay with the stipulations, go for it. Some can be highly lucrative, such as the BetRivers Sportsbook’s 100% deposit bonus up to $250 with just 1x playthrough requirements.
  5. Deposit funds in your sportsbook account via PayPal, online bank transfer, or another method. We do not recommend the use of credit cards, as online gambling transactions are often blocked by the issuing bank. If it does go through, it also usually counts as a cash advance rather than a standard charge.
  6. Select your esports bet and type in your wager. The online sportsbook will let you know how much you stand to win. When you’re ready to lock in your bet, add it to your betslip.
  7. After the bet is settled, you can cash out using PayPal, online bank transfer, or another available method, or leave the funds in your sportsbook account.

Good luck, have fun and remember to practice Responsible Gaming.

Different Ways To Wager On Esports

Legality differs by state, but placing real-money bets on esports isn’t the only way to wager on competitive gaming. Here are some other options:

  • Skin Betting: Bet on in-game items rather than real money, such as a style of gun wrap on Call of Duty. Various skin betting sites are available to US players but do your research to make sure it’s legit before joining.
  • Social Betting: Two players bet who will win the game, and the losing player gives an in-game item, Microsoft Store credits, cash, or something similar.
  • Daily Fantasy esports: DraftKings DFS offers daily fantasy esports for Call of Duty, CS: GO, League of Legends, Rocket League, and NASCAR iRacing.
  • Sweepstakes Sportsbooks: Bet using site credits rather than real money, then exchange those site credits for cash prizes or gift cards. FendOff Sports is a good one, and it often offers esports lines.

Popular Ways To Bet On Esports In The US

Like with traditional sports betting, the types of betting on esports vary by game. However, a few betting options apply to most esports events:

  • Match Winner
  • Map Winner
  • Totals (Maps, kills, etc.)
  • Match Spreads (Maps, kills, etc.)
  • Map Spreads (Kills, points, etc.)

Most games will also have prop bets, such as:

  • First Blood
  • First Barracks
  • First to X number of kills

Because many esports events are tournaments, you can also place futures bets, such as group winner, tournament winner, and winning region of the world.

However, the different types of bets available vary by state. In Colorado, all sorts of bets have been approved. In Tennessee, the rules are a bit vague on the different types of bets available and focus instead on the games or tournaments. That means it’s largely up to the sports betting platform and will be largely dependent on what the bettors ask for.

At the end of the day, betting on esports is only limited to the imaginations of the bettor as well as the operator. If you think of a viable wager idea, request it from the sportsbook. The worst they can say is no or offer subpar odds on the line.

Esports Betting Odds

The odds on esports bets are based on several factors, just like with traditional sports betting. Bookmakers set the lines according to past performances by the team or player, the history of results between the two competitors, and beyond.

Live betting on esports is based on how the game is progressing in real-time. For example, the favorite to win a match may not be the favorite anymore if they’re losing halfway through. That’s why live betting is regarded as an exhilarating, fast-paced alternative to pre-game bets. Best of all, esports games are usually streaming for free on Twitch.tv.

Why Choose A Legal Sportsbook For Esports Betting In The US?

Illegal Sites Have Sketchy Practices

Illegal sites will hide terms and conditions that ensure you can’t win from your bonus offer. They’ll up and disappear randomly – and with all your funds. If you have a dispute, customer support will go silent. If you land a huge win, you’ll be banned from the site. 

Offshore betting sites are notorious for this behavior and should be avoided accordingly.

You Want Legal Protection

If you have a dispute with a legal online betting site, you can reach out to the regulatory body to settle a dispute. You do not have that same resource with an illegal, offshore betting site. These companies are usually based in tax havens and legal shelters that allow them to offer their services to anyone in the world.

Plus, you’re breaking the law in your area by betting at the site, so both local law enforcement and international regulatory bodies won’t feel obligated to help you out if something happens. And with these sketchy sites, something is bound to happen.

Don’t Compromise Your Sensitive Information

These sites will often sell their users’ information to third-party companies. Legal online sportsbooks do not. You also always have the option in the US to tell a company not to sell your information, and they can’t legally do so. You do not get the same luxury at illegal, offshore sportsbooks.

FAQ About Betting On Esports In The US

How popular are esports and video gaming in the US?

Extremely popular. In fact, the US outranked all other countries for esports winnings in 2020. Esports and video gaming are extremely popular in the US. Millions of Americans watch gaming streams on Twitch.tv every day. Esports betting isn’t as popular as simply watching the games, but it is growing rapidly in popularity in the US, particularly as more states legalize betting on esports.

Is esports betting legal in the US?

It depends. Betting on esports for in-game items like skins is generally considered legal. However, real-money esports betting is only legal in certain states that legalized sports betting: Colorado, Tennessee, Nevada, and New Jersey. You can also bet in-person on esports at tribal casino sportsbooks in Upstate New York and Michigan. 

Can US bettors wager on international esports events? 

Yes, esports betting in states that allow it usually feature international tournaments. The US does host a few major esports leagues, such as Call of Duty League and Overwatch League, but the major CS: GO and League of Legends leagues are primarily international. Countries other than the US with the biggest esports presence include China and South Korea.

Are there restrictions on esports betting in the US?

Yes, real-money betting in the US is heavily restricted. If you’re looking to place a legal real-money wager on esports, you’ll have to visit Colorado, Tennessee, Nevada, or New Jersey, and make sure the esports you want to bet on are specifically allowed in those states. This can be done by contacting a few of the sportsbooks before your visit.

Do all sportsbooks in the US accept bets on esports?

No. Most US sportsbooks only list the biggest esports events. You can request a line on a less mainstream event, but the sportsbook might not accept it depending on its practices. PointsBet in Tennessee and Colorado will usually take more esports betting requests. TwinSpires Sportsbook also often lists more regular-season esports events.

What’s the best site for esports betting in the US?

PointsBet and TwinSpires are two of the best esports betting options in the US. You can also find bets for the biggest esports events on William Hill, DraftKings, BetRivers (Sugarhouse in New Jersey), and BetMGM. If you’re in a state with legal esports betting, such as Colorado, Tennessee, New Jersey, and Nevada, you can always request an esports betting line at any sportsbook.

What is the age requirement for esports betting in the US?

21 or 18. In general, the age restriction on real-money online betting in the US is 21, but some states have it at 18, such as Wyoming and New Hampshire (neither of which allow esports betting). You can bet real money on esports as an 18-year-old at tribal casinos in Michigan and New York.

Do online sportsbooks in the US offer in-game, live betting during esport events?

Yes, some sportsbooks offer live, in-game betting on esports. This is even rarer than finding pre-match betting, which can be hard enough on its own. TwinSpires Sportsbook offers live betting on Overwatch, Call of Duty, and League of Legends events. Unfortunately, few other online sportsbooks offer any form of live betting on esports.

About the Author

Mike Epifani

Mike Epifani is a Contributor and Editor at Gaming Today. As an online gambling expert, he specializes in bonus offers, how-to's, and reviews of betting sites to help you keep more of your money while having fun and staying safe.

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