New Jersey accepts first esports wagers

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) gave approval for the state’s licensed sportsbooks to accept wagers on the recent League of Legends World Championship finals.

The ruling marks the first time the Garden State saw wagers placed on esports, following suit from Nevada, which accepted its first esports bet on IEM Oakland in 2016 with bookmaker William Hill.

New Jersey League of Legends World Championship
Photo credit: Riot Games

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While the DGE had given sportsbooks the green light to accept wagers on the tournament, it  applied a few mandates. A limit of $1,000 (£776.25) in bets on the match and a strict prohibition of in-game offerings were instilled ahead of the preliminary trial. The New Jersey esports offering was made available for the weekend, and the weekend only, per the DGE’s permission.

The Borgata casino in Atlantic City accepted New Jersey’s first stake as a Philadelphia broadcaster placed $100 (£77.62) on G2Esports to take home the gold in the finals. Marcus Glover, President of Borgata spoke to the importance of DGE’s decision to welcome esports gambling: “Borgata is proud to be at the forefront of this significant milestone as we look to engage with future generations of esports fans as well as traditional sports fans.”

David Schwartz, Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas acknowledged the Garden State’s voyage moment: “I think in the short term, betting on esports has the potential to be a small growth area. There is definitely fan interest, but right now betting on sports outside of the big three — football, basketball, baseball — is pretty small in the U.S. So it would be a small share of a small share of the overall sports betting handle.”

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Following the Supreme Court’s decision to repeal PASPA and allow for legalised sports betting (on a state by state basis) in May 2018, New Jersey has been the most explosive adopter of licensed gambling on sports – both live and online. According to the Associated Press, New Jersey gambling regulators “thoroughly investigated the tournament until they were satisfied as to its integrity before approving bets on it.”

Though a sea of unregulated bookmakers makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact value of esports’ betting handle, it’s speculated the industry is currently worth over $1.5 billion and experiencing a 30 percent average revenue increase year over year, according to Calvin Ayre

Esports Insider says: Although New Jersey’s permission to accept esports wagers is currently a one-off exemption, it could prove to garner more interest around the possibility of a full-time occupancy in the Garden State. 

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