The Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) has released a statement welcoming the decision of the US Supreme Court that effectively allows each states in the US State to decide for themselves whether to legalise sports betting and, importantly, how to regulate that betting.
ESIC’s priority and mission is the ‘protection of the integrity of esports competition’ and they have long supported the proper regulation of betting. At Esports Insider we have long shared that same stance, and fervently supported ESIC’s work. We hosted betting on esports panels back at SBC’s Betting on Sports 2016 Conference, and so this move by the Supreme Court is music to our ears as it is ESIC’s.
Betting is something which happens regardless of its legality, the US black market for sports betting is worth an estimated $150 billion (£bn) according to the American Gaming Association, and whilst this has been dismissed as far too high by some analysts, whatever the true figure is it is an undoubtedly sizable sum. Shying away from it and not allowing it isn’t helping matters. Working with regulators, established betting operators is the only sensible way forward. Our own ESI London conference in September (18-20th), at which ESIC will speak and be involved, will have a full day of betting on esports panels and debates, and the US opportunity will be a key talking point.
ESIC Commissioner, Ian Smith, stated: “The US is one of the world’s largest esports betting black markets. The action by Valve to shut down access to skins betting sites in 2016 had some impact, but a large number of American esports gamblers just moved to cash sites and continued betting in an unregulated environment, with all its attendant dangers to the bettors and to esports integrity.
“Recognising that people will continue betting, we welcome the decision that should mean that betting on esports can be brought into the light of good regulation well enforced and we look forward to working with State regulators, operators and esports organisations to make the shift to legalisation as smooth as possible with competitive integrity at the forefront of everyone’s thinking.”
“We have worked with the Nevada Gaming Control Board since 2016 and believe their system should be the model for other States. We hope the States can agree something consistent. Dealing with 50 different regulatory regimes will be a nightmare for all concerned and slow the transition from illegal betting to safe wagering. This situation also extends to more than 120 Tribal authorities. The Federal Government will also need to address the Wire Act to clear the way for profitable betting offerings – without that it’s hard to see how the current illegal markets will be displaced by legal ones. There is clearly much to be done.”
ESIC General Manager, Kezra Powell, said: “It is clear that this decision is only the beginning. There is a great deal of work to be done to ensure that the implementation of legalised sports betting works properly for consumers, operators and sports. ESIC will work hard to ensure that esports is treated like every other sport through this process.”
Esports Insider says: As mentioned this decision by the Supreme Court is one we have long supported, and the important work ESIC has been doing is something we’ve done our best to support too. This is great news but as Powell stated, this is only the beginning and there’s a long, inevitably messy, road ahead.