eSports Academy Course 108
The thrill of high-stakes. That phenomenon is coming to eSports. We’re referring to betting sanctioned by law; Lineups, of course, doesn’t condone any illicit gambling. Therefore, let’s go over the legality of the subject, particularly in the United States.
The United States of America has a deep history of illegal gambling—webs upon webs of intricate systems meant to work right under the government’s nose. In fact, it might be argued that illegal gambling is the richest tendril of crime. These systems (bookmakers, poker rooms, gambling dens) don’t thrive anymore now that technology has become so prevalent. But, there might be countless online gambling rings that we don’t yet know about. In any case, we’re after legitimate betting.
In case you’ve come across this without in-depth knowledge of eSports, you’re in the right place. Lineups’ eSports Academy is dedicated to providing information that help those keen on getting in on the billion-dollar business of eSports. You can find an introductory lesson here. This glossary might also be useful. A lesson about how teams function and the positions therein you can find here. Also, we have a lesson on the leagues and tournaments of eSports, which you should know about. Lastly, if you’re feeling like getting a step ahead, you could even get to know our lesson on the history of eSports. Now, back to betting; let’s learn!
The State of eSports Betting
The relationship between the federal government and online gambling is complicated. Many have noted the loopholes of both the laws and the gambling systems. Those make it very difficult to fully comprehend them. As stated here, “As a player you can only trust that you are not breaking the law and that if a big and reputable company says that what they are doing is legal, then it probably is.”
More specifically, eSports betting is less straightforward. Not only is it caught in the issues of online gambling and offline gambling, it’s also awkwardly inching towards sports betting. The people at the forefront of this matter are not ready to push the definition of ‘sport’ on what is, objectively, playing video games. This definition problem is matters a lot.
By now, many states have legalized sports betting. They were given the authority to do so by two bills passed in 2018, H 783 and H 4530. Those bills struck down a federal ban. The newest state to legalize sports betting is Illinois which only did so as last month; June, 2019. You can check out this interactive map here to learn the status of your state.
So, we return to the major issue: are eSports recognized by law as ‘sports’? Even if it isn’t, this article brings up a good point, stating that the government’s restrictions are “aimed at larger illegal gambling rackets, rather than individuals” and therefore harmless. The surgeon gives priority to the truncation of bigger tumors, rather than smaller ones. Nevertheless, there is no concrete, federal definition for eSports yet. Our bet is that it will be determined a sport, in which case the laws sanctioning sports betting apply.
Real Money Betting
This form of betting is straightforward. Wager what player or team you think will win. The majority of money comes during tournaments, just the same as traditional sports. A great place to start off is Pinnacle, a site that’s been in the eSports niche since 2010. That is the key—find a bookmaking site that provides information about the games you can bet on. Mostly, those games are League of Legends, Dota 2, StarCraft II, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
There are lists of ‘tips’ and things to look out for when searching for a bookmaking site. While those may be helpful, they aren’t necessary. Esports betting is a growing market. More money is being brought into it—more people are taking part in it, and business goes where the people go. Popular sports betting sites would be cutting out massive revenue by not incorporating eSports into their selection. It used to be that you’d seek an offshore site in order to bypass what ‘regulations’ the federal government set. Now, you don’t need to—unless you live in a state that still refrains from legalizing this whole deal.
Something unique to eSports is skin betting. In this case, ‘skin’ is a generalization of items and tokens that provide a boost to performance in-game, as well as purely cosmetic items valued based upon their rarity. For most games, the player naturally acquires these through gameplay or can purchase them as downloadable content (DLC). That is directly between player and developer, though. Skin betting is not.
Secondary markets have appeared, they sell skins. Skin betting still does make use of the items/skins that a player obtains in-game, but the developer is cut out. These become tokens of a sort are very easily transferred. That includes player-to-player and player-to-site. All of these factors enable skins to become, as labeled here, “quasi-currency.”
The process of skin betting is like traditional betting mixed with banking. It begins with a player transferring their tokens to a skin betting site. The player can then gamble with those deposited skins (this might be done with an internal currency, depending on the site). Winning means the player keeps their deposited skins and receives additional ones. It ends with the player requesting that the skin betting site transfer the skins back to the player—like a withdrawal.
Now, the value of a skin is determined sometimes arbitrarily but more commonly by how rare they are. A very rare skin can sell for several hundred dollars. It’s true that there are ‘jackpot’ sites like the infamous CSGO-Lotto, which you can learn about in this video, that scam the unwitting. These exploit children (minors) and some adults by exaggerating the chance of winning big. That gambling behavior becomes so addictive that some players stop playing the game altogether and just focus on skin betting.
To reiterate: the business of skin betting is massively popular. There was an estimation that the particular industry was worth $8,000,000,000 in 2016, as found here. This is even more astounding when the majority of skin betting sites don’t put up actual money—the currency is the token. It’s a Token Economy. That said, recent legislature that legalized sports betting also allows these transactions to involve real money.
Skin betting will become safer but it has been very dangerous for players. Without any sort of identity verification mechanisms, these sites didn’t protect its gamblers. So, it wouldn’t be difficult for hackers to exploit the scant security. Today, many of the popular sites—those with reputations to maintain—implement measures to improve security.
This type of betting has largely been untouched by the government’s laws such as The Interstate Wire Act of 1961, The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, and The Unlawful Internet Gambling Act of 2006. You can find concise summaries about them here. Because it’s fantasy, betting is wholly recreational and no threat to the ‘integrity’ of the game, whatever the sport.
The market for fantasy betting in eSports is smaller than the previous two. In spite of that, there’s still a large amount of money in it. Plus, it’ll grow as the world of eSports grows. Future riches can be expected reasonably. Fantasy betting takes a different approach to betting.
The backbone of its system is a budget. Each player has the standard budget set and must work within that frame. That budget is used to pay the salary of each athlete. Basically, it’s the price of the person. The player must be smart about spending their budget in order to make a team they feel is worth betting on. Then, fantasy points are scored for each athlete based on their performances in competition. The player with the most fantasy points at the end of the contest wins a cash prize. Easy!
Usually, there are set types of contests. Head-to-head, winner-take-all, 50-50, and multiplier (players win a multiple of their buy-in) to name a few. Casual and private contests are also offered. The most frequently featured are the guaranteed contests where the top entries receive part of a guaranteed prize pool. The frequency with which these contests are posted and “go live” varies from site to site. Additionally, if you’re a beginner, entering a contest with no other participants might be a waste of time. Should no-one else enter by the time the contest begins, it will be canceled. Entry fee will be refunded unless the site states otherwise.
DraftKings is a popular fantasy betting site. Currently, the only eSport it covers is League of Legends. That likelihood that will change in the future is high, so don’t worry if you like the site and wish it had the game you’d prefer to bet on. It isn’t Pinnacle, but it’s good.
And that concludes this lesson of eSports Academy. As linked above, there are other lessons which you can access for information. Remember to check your location’s stance on sports betting and online betting before trying to find a site to actually do so. Now, our site doesn’t only provide lessons for those newer to eSports. We have articles showcasing the best players of games like League of Legends, Dota 2, and CS:GO. Moreover, we have compiled a list of the best eSports players of all time. All of these and more you’ll find right here on Lineups.