If you’re a fan of eSports – or just looking for a new betting market to enjoy while your favorite pro teams or leagues are in between seasons – then you might be interested in where to bet on eSports and whether or not it’s legal to do so.
Fortunately, the answers to both questions are straightforward. In most cases, yes, 18+ eSports betting is legal. And in order to get odds and lines on this booming gambling market, you simply need to join a reputable offshore sportsbook.
Read on to learn about the laws governing eSports wagering and where to find the best 18 and up betting sites for risking real money on major titles like Dota 2, Fortnite, CS:GO, League of Legends, NBA2K, and more.
Is eSports Betting Legal For US Players Age 18 And Up In 2024?
Unfortunately, eSports betting is not legal in the US at most of the domestic casinos and sportsbooks operating today. Perhaps this is because the games are considered to be targeted towards children because they involve “video games” and not real sports (even though real sports are absolutely targeted at and marketed to children of all ages).
But don’t let this silly hypocrisy get you down, because if you want to bet on eSports, you can safely and legally do so at offshore sportsbooks. These online casinos and betting sites offer eSports support, and bettors aged 18+ are welcome from most US states. So join a sportsbook, hit up that Twitch stream, and score every time the pros do.
Please note: Currently, NJ residents – despite local efforts to legalize eSports betting (see below) – cannot currently sign up at any offshore betting site, though doing so is not technically illegal. Top online books simply don’t accept NJ players at this time.
Additionally, those in WA and CT are nominally barred by law from all online gambling, and even though these laws aren’t enforced, you probably don’t want to risk the government ban-hammer, so proceed only at your own risk.
Best Online Sportsbooks Of 2024 Offering eSports Betting For 18+
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Which US States Allow 18 and Up eSports Betting?
So far, only one state has the legal framework to regulate eSports betting: Nevada. However, operators in the state claim that the market “isn’t there” and thus don’t offer much action, and they require bettors to be 21 and up. New Jersey is readying a bill to make betting on eSports legal in Atlantic City and the state’s three racetracks, but that likely won’t see meaningful congressional action until sometime in 2021.
Even though traditional sports betting is now legal in roughly 20 US states (with many more to come in the next year or two), none of these offers eSports betting. While NJ could set the precedent as they did with getting PASPA thrown out in 2018, you don’t have to wait months or years to legally bet on eSports. All you need is an account at a reputable 18+ sportsbook, and you can bet on eSports right now.
What Is eSports?
Many people are still confused about eSports, often conflating the market with virtual sports or daily fantasy sports (DFS). However, eSports is neither of these and is a phenomenon all its own. In a nutshell, eSports are competitive video games played by professionals for real money, with tournaments all over the world, year-round.
The games are most often not even sports related, with RTS games, FPS games, and fanciful fighting games getting top billing. Yes, EA’s Madden franchise and Take-Two’s NBA 2K franchise are popular eSports games based on actual sports, but the model is the same: pro players playing popular video games for real money prizes.
Top 20 Most Popular eSports Games
- Dota 2
- League of Legends
- StarCraft II
- Heroes of the Storm
- Arena of Valor
- Rainbow Six Siege
- StarCraft: Brood War
- Rocket League
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
- Halo 5: Guardians
- WarCraft III
- Magic: The Gathering Arena
Legal Gambling Age To Bet On eSports
As a general rule, the legal age to bet on sports at any offshore sportsbook is 18 and up. However, if you live in a state that has set its own legal sports betting age to 21+, you are advised to wait until you’re at least that old before signing up at an online overseas provider.
Though we’ve never heard of any 18+ bettor getting in trouble for doing so, you should err on the side of caution. In the meantime, why not play some of these games and become an eSports pro yourself?
Banking Methods For 18+ eSports Betting Sites
Every betting site for eSports accepts a number of different deposit methods and supports different withdrawal options. For deposits, credit and debit cards, bank wires, money orders, cashier’s checks, and services like MoneyGram are usually accepted, but the best option is to use Bitcoin (BTC) or another cryptocurrency.
Crypto is the fastest way to get money into your account, comes with the best eSports bonuses, has no additional fees, boasts high maximum deposits, and is the most secure option by far.
For withdrawals, Bitcoin is again the best choice, as it is the only same-day payout method at offshore 18+ betting sites. All other withdrawal methods – like bank wires, money orders, and courier checks – can take up to a week to clear, and they each come with various added fees.
Bonuses For eSports Betting
When you bet on eSports online, you’ll get access to the same bonuses as you would when betting on traditional sports. At most sites, you’ll get a welcome bonus that matches a portion of your first deposit with free plays, totaling anywhere from $250 to $1000 (and more if you use Bitcoin/crypto).
Just be sure that you understand the rollover requirements that come with eSports bonuses because you’ll have to meet those before you can withdraw any associated winnings. Each of our recommended sites at the top 18+ sportsbooks explains rollover clearly in their terms of service.
Mobile Sports Betting Apps
It would make no sense whatsoever for eSports betting not to be available via mobile. In fact, the vast majority of eSports bettors out there wager via their iPhones and Androids, because when you’re watching an eSports game, you’ve got that window maximized. Nobody’s going to be switching between browser tabs to wager!
That said, you won’t find any iPhone betting apps or Android betting apps for eSports contests. Apple and Google don’t allow offshore 18+ casino apps on their storefronts in the US. Of course, this is why the best sites we recommend all have mobile-optimized web portals for eSports wagering, fully accessible via your smartphone or tablet’s browser.
There’s nothing to install or update – Just grab your mobile, log in to your site of choice, and swipe and tap your way to glory. Using your mobile to bet on eSports is kind of like an eSport unto itself!
18+ eSports Live Betting
You can bet on eSports in the traditional manner, making your picks before the action starts. But you can also bet on it live while the games themselves are being played.
Live eSports betting is available for all the biggest contests, and every site carries an ever-changing assortment of real-time odds and lines for your favorite titles.
Everyone hates EA, but with eSports live wagering, it’s in the game!
The Difference Between Virtual Sports, eSports, and Video Game Sports Simulations
The recent explosion of simulated sports at popular online betting sites has occurred so rapidly that sportsbooks have not had the time to create a consensus on categorizing each type. If the oddsmakers are confused, bettors are sure to be baffled when trying to figure out the difference between each category. They are indeed quite similar, but the key differences are detailed below.
Virtual Sports – Virtual sports betting for 18 and up features competitions using computer software that creates results based on randomly generated numeric data. There is no human component involved, and the teams and athletes in play bear no resemblance to existing teams or competitors. Team sports are shown in abbreviated fashion, but complete races are exhibited.
Video Game Simulations – Video game sims operate in a similar way to virtual sports. There are no human players controlling the action, and the computer randomly controls the players on each team, but the players and teams feature abilities and makeup of real-life existing counterparts. Games are played in their entirety, and weather conditions are declared before the competition begins. Popular video game franchises are used instead of generic computer software. Titles include but are not limited to Madden 20, NBA2k, NHL 20, FIFA 20, and UFC 3.
eSports – This popular betting avenue features human players competing via popular video game franchises. The most popular genres of games include sports, military, and arena battle. The betting lines are concentrated more so on the human player and the team and or competitor chosen on the video game platform. Games are played with 1 vs. 1, multiplayer free-for-all, or team competition options. eSports can be viewed over a live stream online or in-person at an arena hosting a live competition.
eSports Betting FAQs
Is betting on eSports safe?
If you use a reputable operator, betting on eSports is very safe. The sites we recommend have been around for years, and each has a strong reputation for fairness and fast payouts. Plus, they all use state-of-the-art encryption technology (SSL, TLS), and they’re dedicated to customer privacy.
If you want to be extra safe, of course, you should use Bitcoin, which adds another level of security to the equation.
How big is eSports betting?
Despite Vegas’ lukewarm eSports market (the majority of in-person bettors in Sin City are of an older demographic that favors traditional sports wagering), eSports betting is quickly becoming one of the largest wagering categories worldwide.
In 2019, eSports betting was estimated to turn a handle of $8 billion, and projections for 2020 and beyond put the number at twice that.
Can you bet on eSports in Vegas?
Yes, if you can find a bookie that will offer you lines. Las Vegas’ clientele is strictly 21 and up, and many of them are much older than that, as the younger generations don’t frequent casinos nearly as often as older patrons. And to bet on eSports in Vegas, you actually have to be in Nevada, which limits your options further.
At online 18+ eSports casino sites, however, you can get action on just about every major contest worldwide, no matter where you live in the US.
What is the most popular eSports game?
The most popular eSports game in terms of viewership and prize money allocation is Dota 2. The 2019 Dota 2 championships, dubbed The International 2019, had a purse of over $34 million, and the Grand Final was watched by almost two million viewers live over Twitch, with over 120 million total viewers when replays were factored in.
In fact, the tournament is still being watched to this day, with non-affiliated YouTube sites raking in millions more views of the event. Effectively, the Dota 2 Grand Final is more popular than the Super Bowl.
Is eSports a sport?
Are eSports sports? That’s a philosophical question. While most people consider sports to be full-body athletic competitions, eSports is a more akin to poker or billiards than to football or soccer.
However, given that these are real-time competitions between highly skilled players and that hand-eye coordination and physical endurance are absolute prerequisites, we believe eSports to be sports by definition.
How much do eSports players make?
It all depends. Top players on top teams can make millions of dollars per year, while moderate players on minor teams can make substantially less. Each club offers different salaries to their members, as well as different prize pool percentages for big tournament wins. The real question is: How much do eSports bettors make? Well, you tell us!
What does eSports stand for?
Do you really have to ask? We think you know. But we’ll tell you anyway: The term “eSports” stands for “electronic sports.”
How many people watch eSports?
There is no simple way to answer this, as eSports are viewed daily by millions of fans via Twitch, Facebook, YouTube, Mixer, and other platforms. Year-round tournaments pull in millions of views live and via replay, as well.
Most estimates put global eSports viewership in the realm of 200 million fans, but that seems like a low estimate.
Are eSports more popular than sports?
No. However, the delta isn’t as large as you might think. Further, eSports are gaining new fans at a rate far higher than traditional sports, and the fact that there is no true off-season is a major advantage for the market.
Additionally, as seen during the 2020 coronavirus outbreak, while sports leagues closed down, eSports leagues were able to continue with business as usual.
When did eSports start?
You may think eSports is a new phenomenon, and it is, to a degree. The market started taking off in the late 2000s, and it is now mainstream. Nevertheless, the first technical eSports event – that is, a video game contest played for a prize – was held in 1972 at Stamford University. In 1980, the Space Invaders Championship drew 10,000 participants, and the market has been rapidly growing ever since.