The US state of New Jersey has taken a major step to integrate the burgeoning eSports industry into its vibrant betting market. The Garden State’s legislature voted to pass a bipartisan bill (A637) which would legalize eSports betting within New Jersey’s regulated industry. The A637 bill was unofficially known among eSports professionals and NJ-based sportsbooks as the eSports Betting Bill.
The eSports Betting Bill has generated a wealth of interest and excitement among the US eSports sector since the bill was revealed back in January 2020. The bill is a revision and an expansion of New Jersey’s existing legislation on licensed sports betting, including eSports as a new ‘sport’ that can be wagered on and offline by NJ-based residents.
The New Jersey Assembly passed the A637 bill unanimously last summer, with the bill making its way to the Senate earlier this month. The eSports Betting Bill was roundly approved by the Senate too, granting sportsbook operators authorization to accept wagers on all kinds of eSports markets and events. It’s a seismic move for the US sports betting scene, having sought to follow suit with the regulated UK sports betting market which has permitted eSports wagering for some time. Bet365, which is one of the recommended operators for sign-up promotions in the UK market, regularly live streams eSports events for its customers.
As of now, sportsbooks serving the New Jersey sports betting market will be permitted to accept wagers of up to $100, with maximum potential winnings of $500. Although this might seem like an unnecessarily strict ceiling, this could be extended or even removed depending on the view of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE).
Prior to the A637 bill, sportsbooks located in New Jersey were allowed to take bets on eSports, but only with state regulatory approval. The DGE first approved legal eSports betting in the fall of 2019, when Atlantic City-based Borgata Casino took the state’s first licensed eSports wagers after running a book for the League of Legends World Championship finals. The Garden State went further still to accelerate the economic potential for eSports betting in New Jersey thanks to the collaboration with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). Since 2020, the NJEDA has worked in tandem with stakeholders within the NJ-based sports betting industry to promote eSports activity and betting.
Where else can you legally bet on eSports in the US?
Following the repeal of the PASPA, New Jersey has become one of several US states to fully legalize eSports betting markets. Unsurprisingly, Nevada – home to the “Sin City” of Las Vegas – has deemed eSports betting to be legal, as have the states of Tennessee and West Virginia. Further states such as Maine are also discussing new legislation to specifically permit eSports wagering.
There’s also a string of US states that have already sought to legalize sports betting but as yet have no definitive ruling on the legality of eSports betting markets. The likes of Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York, Delaware, Arkansas, Iowa and Montana are all prime examples of these states whose legislature has not been required to debate the legalization of eSports wagering thus far. In addition, there are some US states that have only moved to legalize land-based sports betting at dedicated retail sportsbooks. Arkansas is one such state that has not yet sought to approve online sports betting, which leaves eSports wagering in a state of limbo there.
The reality for eSports betting in the US is that states with regulated sports betting markets don’t necessarily support legalized eSports markets. The Hoosier State of Indiana is a perfect case in point, as its legislation for regulated sports betting specifically prohibits its citizens from wagering on eSports pre-match or in-play.
Global eSports betting market could be worth $207bn by 2027
According to recent figures from global consumer surveyors 2CV and market analysts ProdegeMR, the US eSports betting marketplace has experienced a surge in the last 12 months. Revenue doubled to $14bn in 2020, as the concept of betting on competitive video games shifted from a niche subset of sports culture to a mainstream product.
As a matter of fact, the global eSports betting scene is expanding faster than most could imagine. New data from Valuates Reports believes the value of the global eSports betting market could exceed $207 billion by 2027. That’s due to expansion at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.1% between 2020 and 2027.
One of the key drivers of eSports betting worldwide has been the increasing accessibility and demand for live-streamed video gaming content. According to TechJury, some 1.97 trillion hours were consumed in 2019. However, this almost doubled to 3.93 trillion hours a year later, as platforms such as YouTube and Facebook Gaming and Twitch inch closer into the mainstream.
The appetite for video gaming is very much alive and kicking, with the recent launch of the PS5 and the Xbox Series X breathing new life into the next generation of immersive video games. With millennials and Gen Z both brought up on a fare of popular video game titles, both generations also acknowledge the skill and commitment required for professional gamers to excel at the top of their profession.
There are tech innovators in the eSports betting industry investigating new ways to make wagering on live eSports events even easier. Esports Technologies is seeking a patent for its live-streaming wagering technology, allowing eSports fans to place wagers in real-time within live streaming platforms such as Twitch, Hulu, Amazon TV & Gaming and many more. Aaron Speech, CEO of Esports Technologies, believes this advancement will enable “bettors to stay in the zone” by accessing all the betting markets they need without “ever leaving their streaming environment”.
The leading eSports tournament organizers are also entering the mainstream through commercial partnerships with established major league sports franchises. Esports Entertainment Group (EEG), which oversees the Esports Gaming League brand, has formed a marketing agreement with the New York Rangers, as eSports firms look to intertwine themselves with audiences engaged in major league sports like ice hockey as well as video gaming.
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