The bookies and what they’re offering
Pinnacle have odds on the majority of the action, as we would come to expect from one of the few esports bookmakers out on the market.
Pinnacle sticks to the main three esports in Dota, League of Legends and CS:GO, offering match-betting as well as handicap match-betting and Race to [X] Kills. There is little to no sign of Pinnacle expanding its offerings into the finer aspects of each esport just yet.
There also seems to be no sign-up bonus for the Pinnacle site.
SkyBet continue to lead the way with even more markets now available. In its League of Legends offering not only has the site got markets on “First to Slay Baron,” it also has odds on “Both teams to Slay Baron” and have added over/under lines on Dragons, Inhibitors, Kills and Towers, which are intriguing prospects.
The offerings on CS:GO and Dota are not yet that comprehensive, but with the progress that SkyBet (in partnership with Bet Genius) are making, it may not be long before the company comfortably eclipses most bookmakers with its offerings.
SkyBet does not run a dedicated esports portal, so the sign-up offers remain applicable whether betting on traditional sports or esports. If a customer bets £5, they will receive two £10 bet tokens with which to dabble.
The offerings at Betway have receded since its Manila Major offerings for Dota. For the qualifiers there are limited markets available for punters, and the same applies for the CS:GO games to be played this week.
The site has, however, ramped up its social media coverage as it looks to fully engage with the esports community. Its dedicated portal still holds the £30 free bet offer for new customers where the first deposit up to £30 will be matched with a free bet, so there’s certainly incentive to go with them.
Bet365 again remains strong on the esports front with plenty of different markets and ever-increasing depth.
Again, the detail is not as encompassing as it could be, but all of the major esports fixtures are covered and the site’s ante-post betting continues to be the best in the business. As with SkyBet, its portal is not separate for esports so the sign-up offers remain constant.
Bet365 offers a 100 percent bonus on deposits up to £50, so there is certainly value to be had.
Ladbrokes, PaddyPower and Coral
Ladbrokes is offering its typical match betting on most esports, including Overwatch this week, which many bookmakers are not offering. Additionally it is offering some fun markets on Fifa 17, such as cover star and markets related to Ultimate Team.
Although it is not strictly esports related, Ladbrokes is certainly paying a lot more attention to the scene than before. The sites is offering handicap match-betting and map-betting on certain matches, but it’s few and far between.
PaddyPower has ante-post betting for a good few events now, which makes a pleasant change to the normally sparse offering.
There’s even some movement on the Coral side of things (believe it or not), as the site has reintroduced its esports section. There’s still nothing in it, but at least you can now click it from the menu.
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
We again have a mixture of European and Asian action in the League of Legends scene. The European, Korean and North American splits continue with top teams facing off regularly.
For those who want to follow the lesser teams in League of Legends, the Challenger Series continues as well.
There’s very little going on in StarCraft this week and thus there’s not a huge amount to bet on.
The weekend saw Wembley Arena in London host the LAN finals of ECS Season 1 where French squad G2 destroyed world number one Luminosity to take home the grand prize of $250,000.
ELEAGUE and Operation Kinguin continue this week, so the plethora of great CS:GO action we’ve seen in the last few weeks is not over just yet.
The Manila Major is done and dusted and the build-up to Valve’s flagship event, The International, is well underway. The qualifiers will be done by the end of the week so there’s plenty of action for a fan to peruse this week.
Heroes of the Storm
There’s very little HotS, but the fixtures that will be played are taking place in Power League.
The world’s favourite card game has fixtures all week as qualifying for the third Truesilver Championship continues.
There are huge amounts of Overwatch tournaments taking place now, although they tend to be small in size.
Competitive play is set to be introduced into the normal game this week and that may see even more interest heading toward Overwatch. It actually displaced League of Legends as Korea’s most-played game last week, something that very, very rarely happens.
Higher averages, lower extremes
The Group E final this past Friday between Natus Vincere and FlipSid3 didn’t draw a particularly high betting volume—more than 25,000 people wagered 93,105 skins on CS:GO Lounge for the final.
That number actually constituted the second-lowest amount of skins wagered for any group final. The heavily favored Natus won the match, paying out at 1.2 to 1.
In contrast the group play, which also included veteran squad mousesports and American upstart EchoFox, received a robust amount of betting activity throughout the course of the week, specifically on the earlier round robin matches.
The average total of skins wagered on June 21 and June 22 one-game matches on the lounge was 63,360, a figure that easily eclipsed any other week’s round robin skins-bet average.
The June 21 match between Na’Vi and EchoFox, for example, accounted for the second-largest total of skins bet (95,443) on any round robin match in ELEAGUE history.
The average amount of skins wagered per match on the lounge during the entirety of Week 5 nearly reached 64,000, also the highest average of any week of ELEAGUE competition so far.
ELEAGUE: Skin Betting Averages
|Month||Total Handle||Total Revenue/Hold||Hold %||Story|
|June 2018||$16.4 million||$3.5 million||21.3%||Legal Sports Report|
|July 2018||$40.7 million||$3.8 million||9.3%||Legal Sports Report|
|August 2018||$95.6 million||$9.2 million||9.6%||Legal Sports Report|
|September 2018||$184 million||$23.9 million||13.0%||Legal Sports Report|
|October 2018||$260.7 million||$11.7 million||4.5%||Legal Sports Report|
|November 2018||$330 million||$21.2 million||7.4%||Legal Sports Report|
|December 2018||$319 million||$20.8 million||6.5%||Legal Sports Report|
|January 2019||$385 million||$18.8 million||4.9%||Legal Sports Report|
Skin wagering on CS:GO gambling sites is expected to produce a global handle of $7.42 billion in 2016, according to research from Narus Advisors and Eilers & Krejcik Gaming.
An ESBR analysis sampling 200,000 items found that the average value of a skin wagered on the Lounge is $9.75. That figure, multiplied by the total amount of skins wagered, gives us an approximation of the betting handle on a given match.
TBS viewership proportional to wagering activity
For the fifth consecutive week, the volume of ELEAGUE skin betting on group finals matches appeared to behave proportionately to television viewership, reinforcing the idea that viewership and betting volumes are directly linked.
TBS’ cable airing of Friday’s group final reached 244,000 viewers. That number dropped 11 percent from Week 4’s 276,000, a figure that itself marked a sharp increase from disastrous Week 3 ratings.
Just as the amount of TBS viewers dropped week-over-week, the amount of total skins wagered on Friday’s match also dropped by 19 percent week-over-week. Somewhere between .38 to .49 skins have been wagered on a group final match for every TBS viewer watching:
ELEAGUE: Viewers vs Skins Wagered[table “5” not found /]
Average concurrent viewership on Twitch for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday matches continued its trend of outperforming that of Friday matches. Average ELEAGUE viewership on the casting giant averaged more than 50,000 people on June 21, the same day of the highly bet Na’Vi-EchoFox match.
That same viewership figure was close to 46,000 on June 22, and reached just over 42,000 on June 23, according to Twitch’s API. June 24’s Friday night average concurrent viewership on Twitch, however, amounted to roughly 17,000 people.
While American viewership of Friday’s Group F final on TBS might take a bit of hit due to people traveling for the Fourth of July Weekend, all signs point to a strong week of betting to wrap up the ELEAGUE’s group stage in Week 6.
Well-established Russian squad Virtus.Pro will lead Group F. The team just won the StarLadder iLeague Invitational and is responsible three of the largest skin betting handles on CS:GO Lounge in the past six months, all eclipsing 200,000 skins wagered.
Team EnVyUs, meanwhile, could provide strong competition on the other side of the group, as they’re coming off a win earlier this year at Season One of the Global eSports Cup, and has had five recent matches with handles on the lounge exceeding 150,000 skins.
Image credit: ELEAGUE Media gallery.
The White House has responded to a petition signed by 117,677 people which asked that “The USCIS Should Recognize All Esports As ‘Legitimate’ Sports So International Players Can Come to the US on P1 Visas.”
The petition was raised after William “Leffen” Hjelte was deported from the U.S. on the grounds that he only had a tourist visa while being sponsored to play Super Smash Bros by an American company.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), determined that he needed a work visa. Hjelte had originally applied for the P1 Visa used by professional athletes, but the USCIS did not recognize playing Super Smash Bros. Melee as a “legitimate” sport.
The White House declined to address the issue
Unfortunately the White House said that it would not get involved in the matter, but the extra information it provided made it clear that this was not a policy statement. The White House explained that:
“We decline to address such matters that are properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies — in this case, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).”
However, it added that because immigration issues are decided by “case-by-case adjudication, a particular denial or approval does not necessarily represent a broader policy interpretation or change.”
The response pointed out that other esports players have been granted P1 visas, notably to play in League of Legends competitions. The concern now is whether the USCIS is going to restrict visas only to the biggest esports games.
Definitions of sports athletes matter
One of the factors which the Nevada Gaming Policy Committee considered in its deliberations over whether betting should be allowed on esports, was the extent to which the games were legitimate athletic contests.
The committee heard from esports athlete, Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel, and was favorably impressed as he explained how his training routine matched that of other mainstream sports. His testimony predisposed the committee to accepting that esports could be considered to come under the legal definition of sports.
In the Nevada regulations, the Nevada Gaming Control Board can authorize betting on sporting contests. If esports is a sport, then the existing regulations will suffice, at least for the broader approvals, and no new legislation will be required to authorize esports betting more widely.
The Policy Committee chairman, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, specifically mentioned the fact that the USCIS had approved professional athlete visas for esports players.
The full response from the White House can be found here.