A History of Esports Betting

It’s often easy to forget just how young esports in its current form is – whilst many suggest that it has been around since the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, the scale and scope is much different from what we see today, with the past decade really being the big mover in the scene. And with the growth have come a large number of changes, the most notable being the introduction of widespread betting across multiple titles and the introduction of esports to an unlikely audience, but where did esports betting start? And how did it grow so quickly?

Whilst there has likely always been some form of betting, it had largely been through less than ideal websites or something unofficial – things quickly started changing in 2013 however when Counter-Strike: Global Offensive launched the Arms Deal update. This update brought a number of cosmetic appearances to the in-game weapons with a number of different identifiers from weapon grade to weapon quality – these were obtained by receiving a ‘weapon crate’ drop in-game and then purchasing a key to open the crate – this triggered a slot styled spin which would give you the quality of skin. The weapon grades and percentage chance to receive are;


  • White (Common – Consumer Grade) – The lowest quality, and often the lowest cost.
  • Light Blue (Uncommon – Industrial Grade) – A similar rarity to the common skins, and a similar value.
  • Darker Blue (Rare – Mil-spec) 79.92% – The value starts creeping up a little with these being slightly rarer than the previous two, but still common.
  • Purple (Mythical – Restricted) 15.98% – Cosmetics here, especially early on start to garner a lot of value with notable examples such as the Glock Fade
  • Pink (Legendary, Classified) 3.2 %– The third highest tier and rarity, with another price creep and more stylised design.
  • Red (Ancient – Covert) 0.64% – The second highest tier and where prices can start seeing huge increases, these cosmetics are typically coveted on the more widely used weapons and often have some very pleasing designs.
  • Gold (Exceedingly Rare) 0.26% – The rarest and covers only two cosmetic slots – the knife, and gloves. Steam market prices for these cosmetics can often range into the thousands due to the exclusive nature of many.
  • Yellow Orange (Contraband) – This category covers only one skin, the M4A4 Howl which had been removed from circulation after it was discovered the artwork was stolen, and only those unboxed prior to the removal remain.


On top of this there were also other modifiers – different qualities to show weapon wear from Battle-Scarred to Factory New were also implemented, as well as ‘StatTrak’ which would track the number of kills with that particular weapon and were also big indicators of value.

The introduction of these skins kickstarted what would be the first big iteration of esports…

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