Are you a keen gamer who’s looking to use your knowledge and skills to try and win some money? Or perhaps you’re a keen sports bettor who’s looking for a new opportunity to have a flutter
Either way, the first question you should be asking yourself is “is esports betting legal where I am?” Fortunately at Strafe, we’ve answered that question for you. Below we’ve covered the legal situation and licenses for the UK, Europe and the wider world.
Esports betting is still a relatively new concept in gambling terms, especially compared to old stalwarts like casinos, and classic betting sports such as horse racing. As a result, bookies, regulators and and punters alike are all still getting to grips with it - not to mention the gaming industry itself. The good news is that it’s going well so far in most countries in the world where gambling is legal - and the future definitely looks bright.
The answer to this question differs depending on where you are. However, broadly speaking, it’s not treated much differently from regular sports betting. In the UK, for example, the UKGC has thus far chosen to regulate it the same way is does regular sports betting. As such, you’ll find that most UK betting sites have esports included within the sportsbook sections. Elsewhere in Europe, Malta, Spain, Italy and Denmark have successfully defined esports betting and regulated it. Moving further afield, Canadians can enjoy esports betting legally through licensed regulators overseas, as can Indian customers - from Dota 2 to Hearthstone betting!
As well as betting sites based in the UK , Malta, Italy, Spain and Denmark legally being able to offer esports betting within their regular sportsbooks, dedicated esport-only betting sites have emerged. Dedicated esports betting since are among the newest and most rapidly rising gambling concepts in 2023. However because of this many of the sites are unlicensed operators, and are therefore both unregulated and illegal in most countries. Such sites should, of course, be avoided at all costs. Some different forms of esports betting, such as skin gambling, also have different rules and regulations.
In essence, the answer to this question is simple; look for a license. Although depending on where you are, the license, or licenses, that you’re looking for will differ and vary. In the UK, for example, foreign operators are illegal, so the esports betting site that you use must have a UKGC license in order for you to legally and safely use the site. The same goes for some other European countries, including Spain and italy.
In Canada, India and in many European countries, particularly those in the east, overseas betting sites are legal as long as they are licensed. The most common European based license that overseas customers can look for is the MGA license from Malta. Canadian customers may also find a lot of legal betting sites with a Curacao license as well. If you’re completely new to esports betting, you can check out our esports betting guide for beginners.
Up until now, eSports betting has been illegal in the vast majority of US states. A lot of people recent have been asking 'is esports betting legal in New Jersey?'. Well, great news! In January 2022, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement approved its first eSports organization. This means that bettors in New Jersey can now delve into the market of eSports. Esports Entertainment Group is associated with an Atlanta casino but still only allows eSports betting. While players in other states will still have to wait for legal eSports betting to spread, NJ is the first in perhaps a long line of states that are making the change.
We’ve established that esports betting is still a relatively new concept, even in 2023, and that some countries have been quicker to get on board and regulate it than others. Below, we’ve provided you with a breakdown and short explanation of the esports legal situation and regulation where you are, including licensing info and more.
The UK didn’t hang around when the debate surrounding the inclusion of gaming into the category of sports betting came up. The UKGC is one of the best and most stringent gambling regulators in the world and quickly included esports betting under the same regulatory umbrella as regular sports betting. As a result, the majority of the top UK sportsbooks, including William Hill, 888sport, and Bet365 all have esports betting markets included within their regular sportsbooks. Something does differ though such as the odds - but you can find out how to read esports betting odds here.
There are some overseas operators that advertise themselves and their esports betting capabilities to UK customers. However, even if an overseas operator is 100% legit in the country where they operate and holds a valid license, it’s not legal for you to bet on esports using that site from within the UK. Bottom line - if you’re in the UK, look for a UKGC license only.
As we mentioned previously, only a handful of other European nations have joined the UK in recognizing and regulating esports betting. Namely, these are Malta, Italy, Spain and Denmark - so customers from these countries can use licensed sites to legally bet on esports. If you’re from elsewhere in Europe, you may also be in luck. For example, customers in Sweden can legally bet on esports sites with the MGA license from Malta, as can customers from countries such as Poland and down in the Balkans.
Canada does have an internally legalized betting infrastructure, but it’s currently run by the territorial lotteries, and only three of the five offer some form of sports betting, with esports not included. Canadians can, however, legally use esports betting sites that are based overseas - provided that they’re licensed and regulated of course. So if you’re in Canada and want to bet on esports safely and legally, look for one of the European licenses mentioned above, with the Maltese MGA license being the best bet.
In a similar vein to Canada, customers in most states India can legally bet on esports using overseas sites that are licensed and regulated. However, no form of gambling other than in person bets on horse racing is legal anywhere inside India.
In South Africa, esports is legal alongside online sports wagering, with operators needing to apply for a local provincial license. We should warn you though, that the South African gambling authorities haven’t got an amazing track record when it comes to regulating betting sites and holding them to a high standard. Therefore a legit license doesn’t inspire as much confidence in South Africa as it does in other countries.
Is esports betting legal where you are and likely to remain so? While we can’t say for sure, the future looks pretty bright. The main thing that looks likely to happen globally, is that we’ll see the legal market reclaim some of the black market as more and more countries manage to categorize, regulate and legalize esports betting.
Regulatory bodies in countries across the world, including in a handful of US states, already have the wheels in motion to legalize esports betting in 2023. We may also see the introduction of more innovative ideas and betting styles to the legal esports betting sphere, including sites where you can play against others and bet on yourself. You can find out more about this in our esports betting guide.
At the end of the day, if sports betting is legal where you are, then chances are esports betting is already legal as well, or at least on the visible horizon. In order to bet legally and safely on esports though, it’s important to remember the following:
Firstly, double check the laws where you are and then look for a legitimate license that’s legal in your region. If you’re in the UK, this must be the UKGC however many other countries, including Canada, do allow you to bet on esports legally with a licensed overseas operator. Lastly, if esports betting isn’t yet legal where you are, don’t get impatient and go ahead illegally - just bide your time, it’s coming!
The answer to this question depends on where you are. Esports betting as a concept is fairly new, and while some countries have been quick to categorize, legalize and regulate it others have been less so. That’s why Strafe has put together this esports betting legal guide to help you find out the rules where you live today.
Where and if you can bet on esports depends on the country or region you’re in. In the UK for example, you can only use internally regulated sites with a UKGC license, while other countries permit you to legally use licensed overseas sites. Find the best sites where you are right here,
The esports betting legal situation in Canada is quite complex, as is the betting and gambling situation as a whole really. Esports betting is fairly new, so the rules are less clear than with other gambling forms. Betting on esports legally in Canada is no impossible - as we explain here.
Players must be 21 years of age or older or reach the minimum age for gambling in their respective state and located in jurisdictions where online gambling is legal. Please play responsibly. Bet with your head, not over it. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, and wants help, call or visit: (a) the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey at 1-800-Gambler or www.800gambler.org; or (b) Gamblers Anonymous at 855-2-CALL-GA or www.gamblersanonymous.org.
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