ESI Esports Gambling Report: Volume 1

In our first volume of the ESI Esports Gambling Report, we have a look at the esports betting landscape and who’s doing what in a space that continues to develop at alarming pace. 

Rewind just twelve months and very few companies were in and around the esports space; and few traditional bookmakers had heard of esports never mind considered it a viable offering with huge potential. Having a look across most bookmakers now – it’s difficult to find one that doesn’t offer esports in some shape or form; and esports dedicated bookmakers are becoming increasingly commonplace. 

For the purposes of our first report, we’re having a look at the offerings of Pinnacle, Unikrn, GG.Bet, Bet365, SkyBet and Betway to see exactly where they’re at. 

Bet365

Credit: @JamesOzzyWatson

Bet365, simply put, have one of the most substantial and best offerings out there at the minute. At the time of writing there’s 23 different tournaments across six different esports with match betting as a minimum.

On the bigger tournaments, there’s a decent range of ante-post options for a punter which are often lacking elsewhere. As well as outright winner, bettors can choose to bet on the region of the winner as well as the “To Reach the Final” market which most bookmakers do not offer.

In addition, they have their now normal depth of odds across the bigger esports. For the League of Legends Spring Splits (LCK, LSPL, LPL, EU LCS, NA LCS, LMS) they not only have ante-post but have a wide array of markets for each match including First Blood, Race to 10 kills, First Tower, First Dragon, First Baron, Total Dragons/Baron amongst others showing their strength in depth.

That’s all without mentioning their nifty Twitch integration on their in-play offering as pictured above. We’ve seen it before on Unikrn and it looks equally as good here on Bet365. It should hopefully become the norm for the industry. 

SkyBet

eSports
Credit: SkyBet

When comparing to Bet365, they have a similar amount of coverage. There’s different markets such as “Both Teams to Slay a Dragon” across the LCS Spring Splits, and their depth of match betting options is generally on par with those offered by 365. 

There’s only four ante-post markets (across all competitions) available on SkyBet and there’s nothing for those looking to bet ante-post other than outright winner. The in-play is there with odds available but as far as we can see, there’s no Twitch integration as of yet. 

The one gripe we have with SkyBet is that it feels more clunky and difficult to navigate than Bet365. The “Matches” section simply lists every match by date and doesn’t indicate at all which esport is actually being played. Of course there’s options to filter but on first glance, it’s not as easy. Then again, for punters looking for something to bet on quickly and aren’t particularly fussed about which game is being played, it may be preferrable. 

Betway

Following their huge six figure sponsorship of Ninjas in Pyjamas – Betway have become increasingly CS:GO centric – which is perhaps understandable given the amount of their investment. 

First off, credit where credit’s due – they’ve finally removed the “Special” market on each esport where a punter could bet whichever esport to be part of the Winter Olympics in 2030. Whether or not it was some sort of joke or purely for website functionality, we have no idea – but we’re glad to see it gone.

For a CS:GO fan who fancies a bet, Betway has to be the place to go. The ELEAGUE Major is fast approaching and quite simply put, they have some wonderful specials for those who wish to bet on something different. 

Just a few examples are betting on the Over/Under ADR (average damage per round) of three star players and “Yes/No: Map 1 – will the bomb be planted on 1st/16th round” of each of the first match-ups. 

Their League of Legends offering for each of the Spring Splits is there – but not as comprehensive as some of it’s competitors. There’s no specific odds on Baron/Dragons or Inhibitors or Towers and ante-post betting is available for just a couple of the splits so it’s not quite as comprehensive as that of Bet365. 

Pinnacle

Pinnacle do things pretty differently from other bookmakers. With promotions not their priority; they pride themselves on price and for favourite backers tend to offer more value than any of the aforementioned bookmakers. 

There’s no ante-post offering available and their rigid Money Line, Handicap and Total markets remain the markets offered – so they should be assessed mainly on price. 

Favourites in first matches Pinnacle Bet365 Betway GG.Bet SkyBet
Astralis 1.418 1.40 1.40 1.46 1.40
FaZe 1.354 1.33 1.30 1.32 1.33
Fnatic 1.680 1.61 1.50 1.63 1.67
North 1.529 1.50 1.50 1.65 1.50
Natus Vincere 1.416 1.40 1.40 1.46 1.44
SK Gaming 1.434 1.44 1.40 1.36 1.40
EnVyUs 1.558 1.50 1.50 1.62 1.53
Virtus Pro 1.641 1.61 1.60 1.65 1.62

 

Outsider in first matches Pinnacle Bet365 Betway GG.Bet SkyBet
GODSENT 2.920 2.75 2.75 2.64 2.75
FlipSid3 3.230 3.25 3.20 3.30 3.25
G2 2.210 2.20 2.30 2.24 2.10
Gambit 2.540 2.50 2.40 2.19 2.50
Mouse 2.929 2.75 2.75 2.67 2.63
HellRaisers 2.850 2.62 2.75 3.08 2.75
Team Liquid 2.460 2.50 2.40 2.24 2.38
OpTic 2.280 2.20 2.20 2.18 2.20

 

From the above analysis of the first matches of the ELEAGUE Major, Pinnacle are best priced on 7/16 markets, with GG.Bet also taking 7/16 and Betway and Bet365 one a piece. They, together with GG.Bet clearly represent marginal value over others in the market.

GG.Bet

The relative newcomers on the scene are probably the busiest company in esports at the moment; seemingly revealing new sponsorships every other day.  They sponsor Natus Vincere, Alliance, Fnatic, Ad Finem, NP, Luminosity and Team Empire as well as individual players. 

They have Twitch integration for their in-play betting which is seemingly available for a decent array of games. Overall, their offering looks solid and the interface is nice and easy to use. They also have an interesting feature whereby they give 1% of all bets placed on a certain orgs victory to that org. 

They seem to just survived their near disaster when they were called out on reddit here for having a “misleading signup bonus”. It does reinforce a common mistake though; people using bookmakers exclusively for esports may not have the understanding that a traditional bettor has when it comes to signups and the like. It’s vital to ensure that the approach to esports considers the different audience and gets it right upon entrance. 

It’s a bright start nonetheless, though and they’re definitely busy in the space. 

Unikrn

Unikrn have probably the most smooth and tidiest UI design of all of the above options. Their odds are in line with other bookmakers and their in-play experience is second to none. The integration of Twitch is not minimised to a corner like 365 and it’s exceptionally easy to select the in-play market you wish to bet on.

There’s the standard ante-post options available, and the depth of markets is definitely there as well with the “First Dragon”, “First Tower” and “First Blood” markets all available for League of Legends as well as the standard match betting.