Betting on Esports with Bitcoin: It’s a Thing

ESports Betting is Becoming a Massive Industry

In 1983, Intertops.com became the first legal gambling operation to seek out a move to another country. On January 17, 1996, that same company launched the first-ever online gambling website taking its first bet. On that date, a Finnish man logged on and placed a $50 winning bet on EPL soccer team Tottenham Hotspur. Just like that, online sports gambling was born. A few years later came the dot-com bubble that would see teenage computer geeks launch publicly traded companies like Amazon. Around that time, several other offshore betting companies like Bodog.com, Pinnacle.com and PokerStars.com launched competing offers in sports betting and poker sites.

Although not considered an esport exactly, it was actually Chris Moneymaker’s win at the 2003 World Series of Poker, which saw him crack the $1-million mark, that really created an explosion in the sheer number of online poker sites and players gaming online. Today the top sports betting sites all take Bitcoin and some accept other cryptocurrencies for wagering too. The idea of gaming online with Bitcoin became a thing just five years after Moneymaker’s win. The year was 2008, the year Bitcoin launched.

Today, crypto geeks universally agree that gambling is one of the most popular use cases for cryptocurrencies. It allows operators the ability to steer clear of government authorities and expensive third-party payment providers. It allows players to skip providing identification and having to tell their spouses how much money they won or lost, and it ultimately allows operators to pass down savings in providing better odds.

When Did Esports Join the Foray?

Before doing a deep dive into that, consider how esports became a thing. Just like the invention of online gambling, the birth of esports owes everything to the evolution of the internet and technology. The evolution is clear in the story of Dennis Fong, aka “Thresh.” Thresh began playing the first-person shooter game Doom in 1993 at the age of 16. He developed a cult following for his strategy of hiding and waiting for opponents and then striking quickly. In 1997, he won a Ferrari for finishing first in a Quake tournament. Fong has earned $16 million to this point in his playing career. Today, Guinness World Records recognizes Fong as the first professional gamer in the world.

When Betting On Esports Became a Thing

Counter Strike: Global Offensive launched skins for different weapons within its game in August 2013. Skins basically allowed players to change the colors of those weapons and made the game more exciting. Players soon figured out that fellow gamers could sell these skins for real money, and a marketplace was born. A group of gamers actually sued the makers of these games for allowing them to engage in this kind of trading despite the fact many participants were underage. Just like Fong winning a Ferrari, the idea that being a competitive gamer and playing for valuables that equated to actual money being exchanged made the prospect of betting on it more intriguing.

In-Game Casino Chips

It was in 2013-14 that game publishers realized economies existed and that players were already transferring value to each other with real money. Those publishers realized they might as well cash in by allowing players to purchase in-game casino chips. The government quickly axed that, or at least tried to. This is when offshore gambling sites took notice and started offering up the opportunity to wager on esports.

How Do You Wager on Esports?

Any number of both major online gaming operators like Bodog (who lets players wager in Bitcoin if they choose to) and Bitcoin-specific betting sites like Betcoin.AG offer players the chance to wager on esports. Players can bet on the final outcomes of team games or place bets on propositions within the game. Odds are listed in just the same way as they would be on sports bets with the potential payout hanging on the result of a match.

Popular games at these and other sites that players can wager on include Counter Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, DOTA 2, Starcraft, Warcraft, World of Tanks, FIFA, Fortnite, Overwatch and more.

Again, like a sports bet, an esports bet can be made on the final outcome, propositions or live play. It’s estimated that last year more than $8 billion was wagered on esports.

That number is only going to skyrocket as television, Twitch broadcasts and in-arena ticket sales and the sponsorships that come with all of that grow in size. Players will simply become more interested as fans, and many of those fans will become avid gamblers.