From a minority interest to one of the planet’s fastest growing sports, the rapid rise of eSports has been spectacular. Every year eSports attracts millions of new fans, with one report estimating that the global audience for eSports in 2016 was 323 million and that it was likely to rise to around 589 million by the end of the decade.

As the profile of eSports has increased, it has been matched by a growth in demand for opportunities to bet on eSports. According to one researcher, anywhere between $550 million and $600 million were wagered on eSports in 2016 and the size of the eSports betting market is likely to continue to grow as eSports becomes ever more popular. This development has caught some traditional betting operators by surprise and has offered an opportunity for dedicated eSports sportsbooks.

What is an eSports sportsbook?

The explosion in online gambling at the beginning of the millennium has led to a rapid proliferation of online sportsbooks. Many of these sites are online extensions of traditional offline sportsbooks, some of which have been operating for decades. While some sportsbooks have a reputation for being more focused on one sport ahead of others, they all generally try to cover as wide a range of sports as possible.

Esports sportsbooks are different. They may provide some other sports markets, but they are primarily focused on offering eSports bettors a dedicated service, providing the in-depth coverage and range of markets that eSports fans demand.

Traditional Sportsbooks v Dedicated Sportsbooks

The growth in eSports has caught the sportsbook business by surprise, and although their business model depends on responding to customer demand, many traditional sportsbooks have struggled to respond effectively to the popularity of eSports.

This may be explained by the fact that the audience for eSports betting is younger than the traditional sportsbook market. It has taken time for more established sportsbooks to get to grips with the technicalities of eSports and to understand what markets eSports bettors want to bet in. Traditional sportsbook operators may also have been wary of offering new markets to well-informed eSports bettors. Even today, the eSports sections of many traditional sportsbooks offer only a sparse selection of markets, restricted to the most high profile games such as CSGO, League of Legends and Dota 2.

By contrast, dedicated eSports sportsbooks are based around an in-depth understanding of eSports, and designed to offer the fullest possible range of markets for eSports bettors. Another key difference is that dedicated eSports sportsbooks will be more modern than their traditional counterparts, as the rise of eSports has occurred only in the last few years. The mobile compatibility, layout and functionality of a dedicated eSports sportsbook is likely to be more up to date and responsive than you would find with a traditional sportsbook.

Sportsbooks offering eSports

The market for dedicated eSports sportsbooks is growing more competitive all the time as new operators come online, which is great news for eSports bettors. There are a number of dedicated eSports sportsbooks out there and all of the traditional eSports sportsbooks will offer an eSports section, but there are a few that stand out from the crowd.

Arcanebet is one of the leading eSports sportsbooks, offering markets on fourteen eSports, along with live eSports betting, and the ability to use Bitcoin and CSGO Skins as alternative payment methods. Created this year by eSports enthusiasts, it offers a state-of-the-art interface and functionality and caters for the needs of all eSports bettors.

Another popular dedicated eSports sportsbook is EGB.com. Set up in 2011, it is one of the oldest eSports sportsbooks out there, and the experience gained over those years has helped the EGB operators to create a comprehensive eSports betting resource, including a useful news section. EGB’s commitment to eSports has extended to sponsoring the Luminosity team in 2016 along with a new young team, the Hellraisers.

Of the traditional sportsbooks that offer eSports markets, Bet365 is one of the best. It has rapidly expanded its range of eSports products, and as well as fixed odds betting, it also offers live eSports betting. While it may not be as modern a site as some of the dedicated eSports sportsbooks, Bet365’s experience in the sportsbook industry means that it can offer a high level of customer service and the reassurance that comes from betting with a long-established global betting operator.

Skybet is another traditional sportsbook that has made a serious attempt to meet the needs of eSports bettors, offering a wide range of games and covering all of the major eSports tournaments. Skybet also enable you to bet on individual maps as well as match outcomes, and the financial resources of the Sky organisation ensure that the site is continually updated and improved, making it one of the smoothest-performing eSports sportsbooks.

Typical Sportsbook Bonuses

The modern sportsbook industry is extremely competitive and to attract new customers, sportsbook operators offer a range of bonuses.

Typically these bonuses will be awarded either on signing up to a site and making a deposit into your account or upon making your first bet and will involve the sportsbook matching your deposit or bet. For example, if you deposit £10 into your new account, the sportsbook will credit your account with another £10 which you can use to bet with.

Usually there will be conditions attached to the bonuses, including limits on the size of the bonus, time limits within which it has to be used and the requirement to turnover any winnings earned from betting with bonus money once or twice before withdrawal. Nevertheless, for shrewd bettors, sportsbook bonuses can be a useful way of maximising your profit.

How to find your ideal Sportsbook

What makes a sportsbook right for you will depend on what you are looking for, and there are a number of factors to consider. If the ability to bet in a wide range of eSports markets is important to you, then you will be focusing on dedicated eSports sportsbooks, while those who prefer the reassurance that comes with a long-established sportsbook, may prefer to try traditional sites before moving to dedicated eSports sportsbooks.

Mobile compatibility is another factor to consider, if you like to bet on the go, as some sportsbooks cater for mobile betting more effectively than others. The variety of payment and withdrawal options may be important to you, and, particularly if you are new to eSports betting, you may want to focus on sportsbooks that offer a comprehensive customer service availability. The best way to assess these factors is to try out the sportsbooks you are interested in to see how well they fit with your eSports betting requirements.