Esports has been drawing increasing attention from popular online gambling platforms, including Pinnacle, Betway, Luckbox, and DraftKings, which became the official betting partner for esports lifestyle brand FaZe Clan earlier this year. Some online betting platforms are even hosting their own tournaments and hiring content creators to attract esports fans. And while this attention to competitive gaming is clearly bringing in younger consumers to the gambling industry, when it comes to local, in-person betting on esports, the framework isn’t quite keeping up with interest. Lawmakers in gambling mecca Nevada are trying to change that.
The Esports Technical Advisory Committee recently teamed with Nevada’s Attorney General’s office to help establish a regulatory framework that would govern esports betting in 2023 and would enable sportsbooks to accept wagers on esports matches without the need for special approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB). The committee will soon finalize its proposed regulations and present them to the NGCB before it then goes to the Nevada Gaming Commission for final review.
The Attorney General’s office said that the framework would essentially allow Nevada’s sportsbooks to accept wagers on esports in much the same way they do with traditional sports matches. As noted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, esports betting is already happening, but it’s outside the regulatory framework of Nevada, so the committee is hoping to modernize the framework so that the state’s economy can benefit. And since gambling is one of the key components in cheating across the esports ecosystem, it’s likely that Nevada’s sportsbooks will need to hire esports experts to keep an eye on matches.
Nevada isn’t the only state looking to capitalize on esports betting. In New Jersey, a State Assembly committee passed a bill to allow esports wagering, but it’s likely that amendments will be made to the legislation, and it could be several more months before it makes its way before the full Assembly for a vote. Grant Johnson, CEO of Esports Entertainment Group, which operates esports and betting for numerous teams across the NFL, NBA and other sports leagues, believes it’s inevitable that casinos will incorporate esports. “Casinos are nervous about taking the next step, but how else are they going to attract a younger crowd? They are not pulling in the under age 30 demographic,” he noted.
According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, the momentum is clearly building for esports betting. In the last six months alone, the percentage of US esports tournament viewers placing bets on matches has ticked upwards past 17% while those placing bets on esports among the general population now stands at nearly 6% — which puts esports betting right behind fantasy sports betting (a major revenue driver in its own right).
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