Betting on eSports video games such as League of Legends has become a huge international phenomenon.
To compete at the highest level, you’ll need lightning-fast reflexes, thousands of hours of training, and even mandatory drug testing.
Nope. We’re not talking about hockey, football or any of the mainstream sports. In fact, you could even debate whether we’re talking about a sport at all.
We’re talking about eSports.
Think about those games of Doom, GoldenEye and Mortal Kombat you used to play against your roommate where the loser had to do the dishes. Then elevate both the level of play and the stakes by infinity.
Video games have long been a phenomenon. But a fad that has recently emerged is eSports betting. It happens, and it happens for big money every day.
In this article, we answer 5 important questions about eSports betting in Canada. From what eSports are to who watches eSports (you’ll be amazed by the numbers) to the best places where to bet eSports in Canada, we’ll cover it all.
(Graphic from Pinnacle sportsbook)
1. What Are eSports?
eSports are competitive video game tournaments, most commonly involving elite gamers in the real-time strategy, first-person shooter, fighting and multiplayer online battle arena genres.
The most popular eSports games in 2016 include League of Legends, DotA 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty, Halo 5, Street Fighter IV, Tekken, Mortal Kombat X, Hearthstone and StarCraft II.
– Screenshot from Counter Strike: Global Offensive
2. Do People Play eSports For Cash?
eSports tournament prize money amounts from 1988-2014 (source: Wikipedia.org)
Ohhhhhh yeah. Past world championships for League of Legends and Halo have had $1 million in prize money up for grabs.
There are even some professional eSports players who supplement their prize money income with endorsement deals from advertisers and donations from fans.
3. Who Watches eSports?
A ton of people. According to a Fortune.com article published in April 2016, more than 79 million hours of eSports was watched per month on the streaming platform Twitch from July-December 2015.
A recent Yahoo report noted that more than 40,000 attended the 2014 League of Legends championships, and 135 million people watched eSports events online in 2014.
4. How Do You Bet On eSports?
Yeah, eSports aren’t played on grass, artificial turf, ice or hardwood.
But they’re no different from traditional sports when it comes to betting – it makes the action more enjoyable for spectators.
“Betting increases engagement. People are more likely to watch to the end of games, people are more likely to watch less-significant games, and this is already very evident at some eSports tournaments,” former professional League of Legends player Stephen (Snoopeh) Ellis, now an advisor for eSports betting company Unikrn, speaking to Vice.com in July 2015.
Online sportsbooks began offering eSports betting several years ago. Among the eSports bets you can make are Futures (who will win the tournament or who will win their Group), head-to-head (who will win the match) and handicaps (will a team beat another team by more or less than a certain amount of points).
Occasionally, you might also find eSports props such as “First Tower”, “First Blood”, “First to 10 Kills”, “1st Round winner” and “First to 5 Rounds won”.
– An example of eSports betting odds at Pinnacle sportsbook
Handicaps and totals for eSports betting vary by the game. For example, handicaps or totals in Counter Strike might refer to the number of rounds, while a handicap or total in Starcraft 2 might refer to maps.
eSports betting odds are structured similarly to sports betting odds. Read our explanation of how to read odds if you don’t quite understand things like moneylines, handicaps, decimal odds and American odds.
5. Where Can I Do eSports betting In Canada?
Until recently, British Columbia’s PlayNow was the only provincial sports lottery we knew of that offered eSports betting in Canada.
Quebec added eSports betting to its Mise-O-Jeu lineup in August 2016.
However, you need to live in B.C. to use PlayNow eSports betting, and Quebec to use Mise-O-Jeu eSports betting. And though PlayNow sports betting odds are comparable to some sportsbooks, their eSports betting odds don’t compare well to an online sportsbook like Pinnacle.
Fortunately, Canadians are able to have access to many of the best eSports betting sites.
Almost all online sportsbooks offer eSports odds on events involving games like Starcraft, Dota 2, League of Legends, Hearthstone and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Before you choose where to bet eSports, make sure you identify what is most important to you.
Maybe you just want to always get the best eSports betting odds. Perhaps you’re simply looking to cash in on the biggest eSports betting bonus offer. Or maybe you want to be able to bet eSports using Bitcoin.
We’ve sorted out the best choice for each option below:
Best eSports Betting Odds: Pinnacle
Pinnacle (www.Pinnacle.com) features reduced juice betting, which means they take a smaller commission (less vigorish) on every bet.
For example, some sportsbooks may offer -110 odds on each side of a 50/50 proposition. Here’s what that means:
- You and your friend bet against each other on a coin toss.
- At -110 odds, you each risk $110 to win $100.
- The winner wins $100, the loser loses $110, and the sportsbook pockets the extra $10.
- $10 profit for the sportsbook on $220 wagered = 4.55% commission.
Pinnacle generally offers -105 odds on each side of a 50/50 proposition. That means:
- You and your friend bet against each other on a coin toss.
- At -105 odds, you each risk $105 to win $100.
- The winner wins $100, the loser loses $105, and the sportsbook pockets the extra $5.
- $5 profit for the sportsbook on $210 wagered = 2.38% commission.
Another benefit of betting eSports at Pinnacle is that they have a special eSports betting section that explains how to bet on eSports, discusses eSports betting strategy and previews upcoming events (large screenshot, above right).
You won’t find that dedication to eSports betting at every sportsbook.
Making Pinnacle an even better choice for eSports betting in Canada is that they have excellent customer service – if you request a payout, you’ll receive it in minutes – and they offer several convenient deposit methods for Canadians.
Best eSports betting bonus: Bet365, Bodog and Sports Interaction
Many of our recommended sportsbooks for Canadians offer 100% signup bonuses, but Bet365, Bodog and Sports Interaction offer the best ones.
Sports Interaction (www.SportsInteraction.com) has a similar offer, though it maxes out at $125.
One thing to remember about getting an eSports betting signup bonus is the rollover requirement. Sportsbooks can’t have you deposit money, get the bonus and then pull all the money out right away, so they require you to roll over (bet the equivalent of) your deposit plus bonus a certain amount of times before you can withdraw cash.
Bet365 has the most player-friendly rollover requirements, making you roll over the deposit plus bonus just 3 times. That means if you deposit $200 and get a $200 bonus, you only need to bet the equivalent of $1200 (400 x 3) before withdrawing your money.
Bodog has a 5X rollover requirement, and Sports Interaction makes you roll over your deposit plus bonus 10 times.
Best eSports Betting With Bitcoin: Bodog
Bodog makes a second appearance in our list of best sportsbooks for eSports betting in Canada because they accept bitcoin deposits.
Bitcoin, in case you aren’t aware, is a digital currency that is created and held electronically. It’s best described as cash for the Internet, a way to send and receive money online without using a middleman like a bank.
The biggest benefit of bitcoin is that you can send and receive it anonymously. So if you worry about the legality of online sports betting in Canada (it’s not illegal), making bitcoin sportsbook deposits should make you more comfortable.
But here’s the Coles Notes version of how to set up your bitcoin eSports betting account, in case you can’t wait to get started:
- Sign up for a bitcoin wallet (Bodog recommends Kraken or Circle)
- Verify your bitcoin wallet with the required information (this process may take a couple of days)
- Deposit money at your bitcoin wallet via EFT (electronic funds transfer) or Vogogo (Interac email transfer)
- Use the money in your bitcoin wallet to purchase some bitcoin
- Go to www.Bodog.eu (register for a new account if you haven’t already), click on ‘Deposit’ and select the bitcoin deposit option
- Input the value of Canadian money you want to deposit. Bodog will tell you how much bitcoin you’ll need and will also give you a wallet address to send the deposit to
- Withdraw the amount of bitcoin you need from your bitcoin wallet and send it to the address Bodog gave you (copy and paste works for both)
- Go back to Bodog and clicked on the ‘I’ve completed my deposit’ button at the bottom of the Bitcoin Deposit Pending screen.
Five minutes later, your deposit should be processed and you’ll be ready to bet.