Here’s the weekly round-up as to what’s happening at esports betting sites as well as the major events going on this week.
The bookies and what they’re offering
Pinnacle has odds-on the majority of the action, as we’ve come to expect from one of the few esports-orientated bookmakers on the market.
It has a wider array of Dota action than available on SkyBet, yet the markets are limited, as is normal when it is not Tier 1 teams in action. Nevertheless, Pinnacle has odds-on a lot of the lesser competition across all three big esports.
At the moment, it’s just a single market for outright match winner, but it looks like the intent is to fully diversify SkyBet’s offerings. The markets on CS:GO and League are relatively limited this week, mainly due to the fact that top tier teams aren’t competing in many of the fixtures.
However, the ESL One Frankfurt odds are up for Dota 2 and SkyBet is offering a total of 11 markets initially on each fixture. SkyBet continues to lack on ante-post betting.
Betway went big on the Dota 2 Manila Major last week but is slow to pick up this week.
There are no odds ahead of ESL Frankfurt just yet and as a result no ante-post offering is available. The offerings are disappointing as well, with only match-betting markets available this week across all esports.
Bet365 bizarrely has no Dota odds yet this week. However, it continues to expand other offerings with Heroes of the Storm featured and a good range of CS:GO markets, including ante-post betting ahead of the ECS Finals.
There’s also limited odds on League of Legends this week.
Ladbrokes, PaddyPower and Coral
Ladbrokes is offering its typical match-betting but only on CS:GO games this week. Only match-betting is available, along with some small ante-post markets, ahead of the games in Wembley this weekend.
PaddyPower has match-betting on some of the CS:GO action and the League action, with small ante-post markets available for the CS:GO ELEAGUE this weekend. Coral’s esports section continues to gather dust with nothing to report.
What’s on this week in esports?
There’s plenty of action for esports fans across multiple platforms this week. Here’s a glance:
League of Legends
It’s more of the same from the professional League scene this week with an action-packed week across all regions, including China, Korea, Europe and North America. Many top teams are in action and plenty of the lesser known teams aspiring to reach the top level as well.
It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Some of the top names in StarCraft will fight it out in GSL Season 2, as the StarCraft scene, with six matches this week, is seeing one of the busiest stretches of action in recent memory.
It’s a relatively quiet week with the big ECS Season 1 LAN at Wembley Arena coming later in June.
There’s still action from Operation Kinguin and the Razer Rising Stars League for those desperately craving some Counter-Strike action. ELEAGUE also continues with some of the bigger teams facing off in the early part of this week.
As one tournament ends, another begins.
The Manila Major concluded dramatically on Sunday with Team OG becoming the first-ever team to win two Valve events.
Now, we’re onto ESL One Frankfurt where a packed Commerzbank Arena will see eight of the top teams compete as the run up to The International continues. There’s also action in smaller tournaments where some of the Tier 2 teams are featured.
Heroes of the Storm
HotS is back underway with Dreamhack Group Stages continuing this week.
There’s action in China this week as Hearthstone Team Story continues.
Competitive play is edging closer and closer to completion, and when it’s released the scene may well explode. At the moment, the tournaments are low key but growing in popularity. It may not be long before a big Overwatch tournament hits the scene.
Image credit: Adam Ziaja / Shutterstock.com
CSGO Diamonds is a gambling platform where players deposit skins, convert their value to “Diamonds” and then wager Diamonds on variable-odds outcomes based on dice rolling. Diamonds can then be used to purchase skins on the site’s marketplace. One Diamond is worth roughly $1 in skins value.
The site made the announcement in direct response to the sponsored player, prominent Counter-Strike: Global Offensive caster m0E, accusing the CSGO Diamonds on Sunday of preventing moE from withdrawing tens of thousands of dollars in virtual currency.
According to the statement from CSGO Diamonds, moE and the site entered into a relationship in early 2016 whereby moE would promote the site on his Twitch stream in exchange for a percentage of site profit.
CSGO Diamonds said it made “a mistake” in providing moE with advance knowledge of game outcomes, and did so in order to make the sponsor’s stream “more entertaining.”
m0E gives CSGO Diamonds ultimatum
On Sunday, m0E, a gregarious former professional CS:GO player who commentated alongside Richard Lewis during the first three weeks of Turner’s ELEAGUE broadcasts on TBS, threatened in a tweet to “expose” CSGO Diamonds.
moE wrote that CSGO Diamonds was preventing him from withdrawing $26,000 in Diamonds on the site. He appeared to give the site an ultimatum to either allow him to withdraw the Diamonds within 24 hours, or else shine a light on something the company wouldn’t want exposed.
On Monday afternoon he uploaded a Skype conversation to Twitter:
CSGO Diamonds admits divulgence of roll results
On Monday, the website issued a response revealing on its own what it says m0E was threatening to “expose.”
From a CSGO Diamonds TwitLonger post:
“…we made a mistake with Moe and decided to tell him some of his future rolls in an effort to make his stream more entertaining on our site. (It’s important to note we did not do this with any other sponsor and, rightly so, have learned from the mistake.)”
The intent to acquire the outcomes of rolls in advance was a two-way street, according to CSGO Diamonds, with m0E asking for them at some times and the site providing them at others.
“This happened in both directions, at times we provided him a future roll and other times he would ask us for a roll result while on stream. This is what he is threatening to ‘expose’ us with, although he had a willing part in this too.”
Profit-sharing agreement terminated
CSGO Diamonds said it engaged in a sponsorship deal with m0E earlier this year in which he would cast his playing on the site for between 110 and 130 hours a month in exchange for 10 percent of monthly profits. The site also said it provided m0E with Diamonds he could wager but not withdraw.
When his casting hours dipped below that mark, the site said it wanted to either renegotiate with him, or offer him a severance payment to end the sponsorship. It was at this juncture, the site said, that m0E threatened to “expose” the site revealing its roll outcomes to him in an effort to keep his 10 percent deal intact.
The site then terminated its sponsorship deal with m0E and went on to accuse him of making defamatory statements about the site to other sponsors. From the post:
“…we decided to offer him the severance payment and part ways. He agreed to the payment and to part ways. Following this, we found out that he had been providing false, negative information regarding our site to our sponsors. He has now taken to Twitter, regarding the withdrawal of Diamonds that, as mentioned previously, were never to be withdrawn as part of the original agreement.”
Need for skins gambling regulation
Skins gambling represents not only a extremely lucrative form of esports gambling — Narus Advisors and Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimate the global skins gambling market in 2016 will reach $7.42 billion in handle — but a highly unregulated form as well. As the overall volume of wagering expands and puts more money up for grabs, the temptation for and prevalence of unchecked malfeasance will almost assuredly grow.
Several industry leaders have called for regulation in recent months, smarting at the idea of players in some instances as young as 13 years old wagering hundreds of dollars worth of skins on the outcomes of esports competitions. There is still the absence of a recognized regulatory body that could bring stakeholders across titles together to formulate common standards and practices. This is in part because the esports industry is online-native, and therefore diffuse and fragmented across different cultures, regulatory jurisdictions and game titles.
It’s also because esports wagering represents a double-edged sword for gaming companies: Skins wagering is good for business and helps drive engagement and growth, but can open game makers to both regulatory scrutiny and, in instances like CSGO Diamonds, bad publicity.
While sportsbook-style, outcome-based wagering with market odds is the most dominant form of skins wagering, roulette, jackpot, coin-flip and other types of wagering, such as what’s offered on CSGO Diamonds, compose a multi-billion dollar sub-industry themselves, according to Eilers.
Skins are not directly redeemable for real money on sites like CSGO Diamonds, or with game maker Valve, but can be sold for cash on third-party sites. CS:GO is by far the dominant title in the skins wagering market, and is responsible for roughly 85 percent of all skins gambled, according to Naurs / Eilers. Skins from another Valve game, Dota 2, are also commonly wagered.
Protecting consumers… against companies
The focus of many of the high-level regulatory discussions involving esports has thus far been the consumer side. Common questions include:
- How does one protect players from throwing esports matches that others wager on?
- How does one establish age verification and geolocation for players?
- How does one determine the legality of players wagering skins sportsbook-style under both state and federal law?
- What type of regulatory body could be created and positioned to ensure player safety regulations?
This incident raises larger questions about regulating the operators of skins betting sites themselves, rather than just the activities of the wagerers.
The case of CSGO Diamonds is one where an operator admittedly engaged in deceptive practices. The supplying of roll outcomes to m0E to assure winning outcomes — even if m0E could not withdraw the Diamonds — nonetheless ensured a particular, and not necessarily accurate, portrayal of the game-playing experience in what is effectively online advertising.
Deceptive advertising isn’t uncommon in the gaming industry. In the case of daily fantasy sports, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he will prosecute DraftKings and FanDuel on false advertising charges despite reaching a settlement that could absolve the two largest DFS operators of other charges.
The operators portrayed their products as contests that anyone had a relatively decent chance at winning. Further research cited by the operators in court cases noted that since the games were highly skill-based, a vast majority of the winnings were concentrated in a small minority of professional users.
Developer Glenn Straub told the Associated Press that, among many other extravagant offerings, his Revel casino project in Atlantic City will offer an esports lounge. The resort is scheduled to open on Wednesday, according to the AP, while the casino portion, Straub said, is slated to open by late August.
Lounge development in early stages
The conceptualization of the lounge still appears to be in the early stages.
The Press of Atlantic City reported that the 69-year-old Straub was recently wading through “stacks of obsolescent computer equipment, trying to determine if any of it would prove useful for an e-sports operation.”
The same report cited Straub as saying the lounge will feature prominently in the property, but did not specify if it was to be located in the casino or resort. The AP reported that the lounge would allow esports fans to follow skilled players.
Esports lounges are also being pioneered elsewhere in the country, and are thought to be key drivers at opening up the esports wagering market.
Most notably, Fifth Street Gaming CEO Seth Schorr has worked to develop an esports epicenter in Las Vegas at the Downtown Grand Hotel, where he told ESBR he’s banking on the appeal of terrestrial gaming experiences. The hotel’s esports lounge is focused on enhancing the live event experience for players and esports fans — it holds live tournaments and offers esports fans a place watch online tournaments — as well as “generating a stepping stone for future video game wagering.”
Lounge wagering could take variety of forms
Wagering at esports lounges can take many forms, including esports players staking money on their performance against other competitors, or traditional sports book-style wagering in which observers of either in-person or online tournaments can bet on teams or players.
By far the largest form of esports wagering is skins wagering, a projected $5 billion market in which players wager weapons skins that have real-money value on the outcomes of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Defense of the Ancients 2 matches.
Fifth Street Gaming had applied to the Nevada Gaming Control Board to offer esports wagering as early as this July, but Schorr told ESBR that the company retracted that application and submitted a new one centered on an event in October that would allow for the first wager on esports to take place this fall.
Is esports wagering legal in New Jersey?
The Revel would likely have to follow a similar path if it wanted to offer esports wagering, a component that a lounge on a casino property would likely offer. Straub told reporters that the casino is still awaiting final certification from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
According to a NJDGE attorney, esports tournaments in which players themselves wager on their own performance is skill-based and therefore legal. No casinos have yet notified the NJDGE that they wish to offer such a tournament, the spokesman said.
Some forms of esports wagering are already happening in the state.
For example, Gaimerz, a website that facilitates esports players wagering on their own performance, is offered in New Jersey. An explanatory section of its website borrows language from the current daily fantasy sports debate, saying that esports players wagering on themselves constitutes a “Game of Skill.”
It rationalizes the legality of its offering by citing the three types of tests state gambling laws use to determine whether a game is skill-based.
According to the New Jersey state criminal code, gambling is defined as staking or risking something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance, which itself is defined as “any contest, game, pool, gaming scheme or gaming device in which the outcome depends in a material degree upon an element of chance.”
Forbes’ contributor and sports lawyer Darren Heitner wrote earlier this year that because Gaimerz wagers do not involve “the staking or risking by any person of something of value upon the outcome of a contest of others,” they do not run afoul of the federal Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.
The state is entering its eighth year of a legal fight to allow single-game sports wagering within its borders. A ruling in that Third Circuit Court of Appeals case is expected at any point this summer.
The biggest bust in Atlantic City history
Straub is trying to recover from what is known as the biggest Atlantic City bust of all-time.
The $2.4 billion property went bankrupt twice, closed its doors in September 2014, and was one of four Atlantic City casinos to shut down that year. Straub nabbed the resort from bankruptcy court last year for $82 million, just pennies on the dollar of the original price. The developer is famous for taking over and breathing new life into bankrupt properties.
One should take Straub’s promises with a grain of salt. The sometimes friend and sometimes enemy of Donald Trump has guaranteed an eccentric array of attractions at Revel that include “a skydiving machine where you have a big propeller that blows you up off the ground,” “frozen mountains with ski runs and moto cross tracks,” and “mud runs that will raise $1 million a day for cancer charities.”
The entire project seems ambitious and ambiguous. Despite being scheduled to open Wednesday, the 900-room resort reportedly doesn’t yet have a name. There is also no phone number or website for the property.
Straub said anyone who discovers the hotel is open is welcome to check in.
Image credit: Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com