The esports and betting industries have become closer than ever throughout the course of this year. A great number of betting companies, as well as bettors themselves, turned to esports after the pandemic ensured that the vast majority of traditional sports events around the globe were put on hold.
Despite esports being global, betting regulations are not. Betting on esports (and indeed sports) remains a non-starter in many countries, including much of North America. Since the repeal of PASPA however, the tide is turning, as New Jersey’s legislation suggests, not to mention the amount of esports tournaments approved for wagering in Nevada.
The Bi-partisan bill A637, unofficially being referred to as the ‘esports betting bill’, has made its way to the Senate where New Jersey lawmakers will make a final vote on expanding existing gambling laws. Considering the current boom of esports betting, this could significantly impact the industry and also become a significant revenue source for the state.
New Jersey’s esports ambitions
Typically, spring time sees sports betting sites in the US flourish with markets in baseball, college basketball and the ongoing seasons of the NBA and NHL all being provided to customers. Not to mention there’s the Master’s Tournament in golf, the Kentucky Derby, and top NASCAR events.
Spring 2020 was different, with COVID-19 putting countries around the world under lockdown and putting a halt on most traditional sports. Undoubtedly, the rising trend of the esports industry was already alive and well, and growing fast, before the pandemic hit, with revenues surpassing $1bn (~£741.6m) in 2019. With millions of people staying at home far more, esports became something of a mainstream media darling and was being regularly discussed in outlets it had only been touched on previously.
Playing times increased, as did viewership on Twitch and other streaming platforms. Naturally too, the bookmakers saw volumes on esports markets climb drastically too, with EveryMatrix’s report earlier this year highlighting a 40 percent increase in esports betting for April.
This year Nevada allowed esports betting for the first time, potentially influencing other states to choose the same path. As of now, there are 21 North American states that allow legal sports betting, however, not all of those offer esports betting.
As the pandemic was sweeping the continent, states were losing out on the tax revenue that was normally generated by professional sports. While sports did come back, and still are in many instances, concerns about this scenario possibly happening again, remained.
This arguably will be a factor in more states passing the legislature to legalise and regulate esports betting, with New Jersey high up this list.
All things considered, the value of esports is not in question. However, there could be a reason as to why operators prioritise their original agenda during a time when the betting industry is still just forming. For example, major retail gambling entities such as MGM becoming the official entertainment partner of Major League Baseball.
Esports is still relatively near the beginning of its journey, meaning there’s still a lot of space for growth.
Nevertheless, this is what makes esports so exciting for those who closely follow the market. With more and more professional and established tournaments and leagues in multiple game titles, the potential for wagering, and new markets, increases accordingly. When it comes to the United States, regulation will happen slowly, but surely, and for now, it appears that New Jersey is eager to be one of the states leading the way.
Disclaimer: This is a branded content piece from AWISEE