Esports betting is on track to become a multi-billion industry. In fact, it's argued that it already is. There is no shortage of interest in placing a digital wager. If you look at history, esports fans have been betting on the outcome of esports long before it was adopted by companies such as Rivalry, Luckbox, Pinnacle, or Betway.
Back in the day, people would bet at GosuGamers, a community that allowed you to use “tangos” to place a wager on a team winning and climb a makeshift leaderboard. Much of this is still true today, but the difference is that you may bet on esports legally in many countries and jurisdictions worldwide.
This brings us to the question: where is esports betting legal today, and what countries (states or provinces) accept esports wagers? Below, we take a look at some of the world's most significant jurisdictions and their attitude towards esports betting.
Can You Gamble on Esports?
Yes, you may gamble on esports today, whether you want to back a match-winner, bet on live events or build a parlay bet. Esports gambling is legal in many countries worldwide and some of the most prominent esports betting markets are concentrated on two continents.
The exact esports betting market size is hard to pinpoint. Some studies claim it's around $67 billion and others argue that it's on track to hit $13 billion by 2025. These numbers make it hard to define. What we know for a fact is that there are already established leaders out there that allow you to place your esports bets without any issues.
Where Is It Legal to Bet on Esports?
Where do you bet on esports legally? There are several countries that have established it into law that you may legally bet on the outcome of esports events. In some places, special regulation is needed. In others, esports events are approved on a case-by-case basis. Others still, you may bet even though there are no laws.
For example, when the United States started legalizing sports betting, it had to also consider whether it should legalize esports betting. It did, but some states are still playing catch-up before they agree on their own esports legislation. As a result, several jurisdictions worldwide draw the most action when it comes to esports betting.
Esports Betting in the USA
The United States operates esports betting regulation on a state-by-state basis. There are at least 13 states where esports betting is legal, which means that the US is developing an appetite for the activity. New Jersey and Nevada have become the latest two states to actively discuss the matter.
Even though both the Silver State and Garden State have legalized esports betting, they are looking to expand the clout and reach of the activity. Nevada, for example, has to review every esports event before it allows sportsbooks to accept wagers on it.
This may change as a new commission by industry specialists has been set to allow sportsbooks to be more autonomous in the way they decide what esports events to issue markets for.
In January 2022, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement officially allowed Esports Entertainment Group (EEG) to accept wagers on esports events. This happened through EEG's dedicated esports betting platform and brand, Vie.gg.
Effectively, Vie.gg has become the first official esports sportsbook in the state.
Esports Betting in Canada
Canada made waves in 2021 when it announced that it would be legalizing its single-event sports betting market. Some provinces in the country were already offering esports bets, but the passage of Bill C-218 has made it possible to expand the scope of operation, galvanizing more companies to pursue esports betting.
Legally speaking, esports is a go in Canada, so it just comes down to how individual provinces and operators handle the matter. If you are looking to bet on esports in Canada today, you can rest assured that you can do so safely and at recognized operators.
Esports Betting in the UK
The United Kingdom is arguably the biggest regulated betting market that exists. Esports is already offered by many leading operators in the place, including Bitcasino, Sportsbet, and Betway.
There are dozens more who have made esports a part of their offer just as well, owing to well-established regulatory rules that make it easy for consumers as well as businesses to establish their footprint in the market. To bet legally on esports in the UK, you need to look up a sportsbook that holds a license by the UK Gambling Commission.
No game, market, or event is beyond the reach of the best British bookmakers, and you will have a blast exploring them on your own. The fact that it's all regulated means that your money and personal data are safe.
Grey Area Esports Betting Markets
A grey area esports betting market – or any betting market for that matter – refers to a state of legislation that neither allows nor prohibits esports gambling. In other words, the law does not seek to penalize operators. Still, it doesn't establish any regulatory framework based on which companies may set up their business in the country officially.
There are many grey esports betting markets out there. Canada has been one such example for a while now, but the country made significant progress towards legalizing it all over the past years. Nevertheless, there are grey area markets we will touch on below.
Esports Betting in India
India is a perfect example of a grey area market. The country does not explicitly ban esports betting, but it certainly does not condone it either. The legality of the matter is left in the hands of individual states, of which only a handful ban gambling outright. Others have not been as busy with the matter.
What does this mean for you if you are an esports fan and want to bet from your home country? Essentially, two things. You could join free-to-play contests that do not require actual money to participate, think JoinDOTA and GosuGamers. Conversely, you may turn to internationally licensed esports betting bookmakers.
This means that Indian esports fans may bet safely at places such as Isle of Man, Curacao, or Malta Gaming Authority regulated websites. They will receive the same service level as any esports fans where those websites are regulated under national licenses. However, it's good to understand the grey area nature of the market.
On the plus side, there are no consequences for esports fans who access such grey area betting sites, at least from a legal standpoint. All the same, you ought to be aware of potential drawbacks such as private and financial data leaking if the site is not a trusted entity.
Offshore Esports Betting
When does offshore esports betting happen, and why does it happen in the first place? Offshore esports betting can occur on several occasions. Using the countries above, we can detail these on a per-case basis.
Grey Areas and Ease of Use
When Canada had no regulated esports betting market, offshore betting operators registered in places such as Isle of Man, Curacao, Kahnawake, or Cost Rica were, for the most part, the only available options. Since Canada did not pursue operators or brand them as “illegal,” they were able to fill the void.
Remember, until recently, Canada didn't offer single-event betting, so it made more sense for esports fans to try offshore betting instead. Another case of offshore esports betting is those instances where the market makes it impossible to bet on anything at home.
No Legal Option At Home
Before 2018, esports betting in the United States was a no-go. Therefore, anyone who wanted to bet on esports had to do so offshore. Once again, under US law, people participating in online wagering aren't liable to criminal offenses, or if they were, there have been no recorded instances of people being brought on charges for simply placing a flutter on an esports team.
Domestic Market Not Good Enough
Then, there is the third reason why offshore esports betting exists. It comes down to whether the regulated market can measure up to what is available offshore. Take Nevada, for example. The state clearly has an interest in providing esports fans and businesses with more flexible options.
However, the fact that the Nevada Gaming Control Board has to supervise every decision made does make the process less streamlined and leaves less room and opportunity for sportsbooks to easily adjust the lines and fixtures so they can offer a better overall value.
This is when people turn offshore. Offshore betting operators are also sometimes too aggressive, and they may actually try to compete with bookmakers in licensed markets such as the United Kingdom.
Is Offshore Esports Betting Safe?
A big part of whether anyone should go and bet offshore boils down to whether this is the best option available to you. If your local market is unregulated, then offshore bookmakers are probably already available to you.
If you have a variety of regulated markets, though, you are always better off betting at bookmakers at home. This is because, with sufficient competition at home, there will always be a way to shop around for the best markets.
Some operators will really not be worth your while. They may have a bad reputation already or be too new to tell if they are worthwhile. In any event, offshore esports betting always invites a certain risk, but sticking with trusted bookmakers should eliminate most of this.
The Size of Legal Esports Betting Market
The size of the legal esports betting market is as of yet undetermined. The truth is there isn't an exact estimate of how big this market is. Some argue that it's already in the billions' territory, which is most likely true.
However, as esports betting is becoming legalized, you can expect a more accurate read into what is happening. Esports will take a few more years to adapt in the United States. The good news is that each state's gambling regulator publishes independent data on what their betting handle is and where it came from.
The best estimate we can place is only in comparative terms for the time being. According to the American Gaming Association, the illegal sports betting market could be worth around $150 billion. The data is based on a March 2018 update, so take it with a grain of salt.
Conclusion: Esports Betting Is Legal
In a nutshell, esports betting is legal, and it's becoming even more legal as we speak. The pace of adoption is different in different jurisdictions, but esports fans have more opportunities to place a wager today and do so safely than at any time in the past. As adoption continues, opportunities abound for esports fans to place a bet on the contests they show interest in.
Is esports betting legal in the US?
Yes, it is legal to bet on esports in the United States. The legalization happens on a state-by-state basis. As of 2022, some 13 states allow esports betting in some capacity.
Can I trust offshore esports betting sites?
Yes, offshore esports betting sites are usually trustworthy. However, you have to do your due diligence and check where the site is licensed, if it is endorsed by the community, and whether its reputation is good.
Is esports betting legal in Canada?
Yes, esports betting is legal in Canada. Each province determines how such betting is carried out and what legal specifics must be observed.
How big is the esports betting industry?
No precise figure is available. Some estimate it's worth $18 billion, while others claim it's closer to $67 billion. The actual size of the legal esports betting market will become known in the years to come.
Is esports betting legal in India?
No. Esports betting is not technically legal in India. However, people who enjoy esports may use offshore esports bookmakers to bet on esports.
Is esports betting legal in the UK?
Yes, the United Kingdom is one of the most developed betting markets in the world. A plethora of bookmakers offers esports markets as a result.