Esports betting popularity grows as Nevada looks to the future

Interest in esports from gambling firms continues to grow, highlighted recently by DraftKings becoming the official sports betting partner for esports lifestyle brand FaZe Clan. Over the last 12-18 months, we’ve seen others like Pinnacle, Betway, Luckbox, and all throw their hat into the esports ring – whether through sponsorships or hosting their own tournaments – to attract a young gaming audience. The interest is warranted, as Interpret data shows that one-third of esports and game-related video viewers are either somewhat or very likely to place bets on major esports tournaments with an online betting service.

The heart of the gambling industry in Nevada is fully aware of this esports betting momentum and is aiming to prepare for the future. Last year, the state established an Esports Technical Advisory Committee (ETAC) as part of the larger Nevada Gaming Control Board. In a meeting conducted by the committee in early March, the group noted that regulation and eliminating fraud or cheating will be crucial for the industry to thrive in Nevada. Chairman Paul Hamilton noted that both consumers and gambling facilities need to “feel safe.”

According to Esports Integrity Commission’s (ESIC) Ian Smith, betting fraud is overwhelmingly the top driver of match-fixing and other forms of cheating in esports. This is undoubtedly going to be a key topic of discussion as ETAC continues to meet on a quarterly basis to outline the future of esports regulation in Nevada. As efforts ramp up, ETAC also added an eighth member to the committee, 25-year publishing veteran Che Chou, who currently serves as Ubisoft’s Senior Director of Esports.

The Gaming Control Board did allow some wagering on esports competitions in 2020, especially when major traditional sports were shut down by the pandemic. However, in 2021, the Board didn’t receive a single request for wagering on esports in the state. Gambling has always been a major force for Nevada’s economy, and ETAC understands how vital esports can be to bolstering the state’s revenues.

Interpret’s New Media Measure® shows that many bettors who place bets at casinos, a local poker club, or through online sports betting platforms, also engage in online esports betting. For Nevada, the key data point here is roughly 18% of consumers who bet in a casino have also placed bets on esports online. With proper regulation, the state should be able to attract many casino patrons to esports betting in the future.