Skin Betting vs. Cash Betting in Esports

A gaming headset with a blurry screen in the background

While a decent chunk of esports betting resembles standard sports gambling, the industry has a lot of quirks – skins betting, for example – that will seem very strange if you’re unfamiliar with them.

Esports gambling can be as simple as making a $20 bet with your friends in a head-to-head game, or wagering massive sums of money on professionals in competitive tournaments. There’s no strict definition for what esports gambling really is, but there are a few major types of gambling.

See Also: Esports Gambling: A Beginner’s Guide.

An Overview of Esports Gambling

The two biggest ways to gamble on esports are with cash or skins. Cash betting means you are wagering real money on an outcome within or of a game. Skin betting is a new development particular to esports where players wager tokens or avatar skins.

Cash Betting

If you’ve ever bet on sports you’re probably generally familiar with how cash gambling works. Even if you haven’t placed money on a horse race, the most basic wagers are pretty simple: oddsmakers set the lines in a particular match. You make your bet. If you bet correctly, you win money, and if you lose the bet, you lose your cash.

To contextualize this, let’s look at an Overwatch match between the London Spitfire and the New York Excelsior from June 8. The Excelsior are one of the best active Overwatch teams, so they were favored over London in this match. The odds featured New York at -276 and London at +204, meaning if you wanted to win $100 on New York, you would have needed to wager $276. Conversely, if you placed a $100 bet on London and they pulled off the upset, you’d take home $204.

Negative odds represent favorites. The number following the negative is the amount you would need to wager to win $100. Positive odds are underdogs, and a $100 bet would win you whatever number follows the plus.

There are other kinds of wagers that are a little more complicated, but all cash bets follow the same odds structure. For instance, you can also bet matches with a handicap to get better odds.

Using the same Excelsior vs. London Overwatch match from above as an example, keep in mind that most Overwatch League matches end when one team wins three games. Since New York was favored, you could bet Excelsior -1.5, meaning you’d subtract 1.5 games from the final score. Since the Excelsior won 3-0, that bet would be a winner. But if the Excelsior won 3-2, you’d lose your bet. The incentive here is that a straight bet on New York would be set at -276, while a handicap wager would be closer to -150.

Most betting sites also let you bet totals and over/unders, meaning you can gamble on how many games the match will run and what the exact final score will be. Once you understand odds and get a sense of whichever esport you’re betting on, cash gambling is pretty simple from there.

Skin Betting

Skin betting is unique to esports, as it uses virtual currency instead of real money. As opposed to cash gambling which resembles standard sports betting, skin gambling is more similar to casino games.

“Skin” refers to in-game skins that players can earn or buy to customize their characters. These items are cosmetic only and give gamers no competitive advantage. On the other hand, rare skins are highly sought after and have immense real-world value. In January 2018, for instance, a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive sniper rifle skin sold for $61,000.

CS:GO helped popularize the skin economy by making skins easy to transfer between players, and skin gambling sites like CSGOatse allow gamers to withdraw their skins from the game for coins in a virtual casino. After you earn skins in-game, they stay in your steam library. Third-party sites can link to your Steam account and award you coins for your skins, which you can use to earn more coins.

Sites like CSGOatse offer ways for players to earn more coins, plus different ways to cash out those coins. Certain games like roulette, blackjack, and dice operate like their casino equivalent, while others are exclusive to skin sites. One of the most common skin games features a head-to-head virtual coin flip, where players wager coins or skins against one another and bet heads or tails.

When cashing out, players usually have a number of options. They can use their newly-acquired coins to purchase better skins, then use those skins in-game or sell them. Some sites also offer users the chance to withdraw their coins for cash directly. For instance, Gamdom is another skin gambling site that has a 1,500 coins to $1 conversion rate.

The Final Word

Once you understand the basics of esports gambling, you can test your luck and give it a try yourself. If you plan on trying cash gambling, spend time researching any matches before you place wagers. On the other hand, skin betting focuses more on chance. If you’re really feeling lucky, maybe you’ll win a skin that you can sell for $60,000.