New Jersey is a frontrunner in creating policies promoting esports in the country. General assembly member Ralph Caputo recently initiated the process of permanently legalizing wagering on skill-based esports events.
Although sportsbooks in NJ currently accept online wagering on esports, they have to seek permission from the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) on a case-by-case basis. This is a cumbersome process, as you can imagine, and has occurred only once in November during the final round of the League of Legends World Championship.
Caputo sees this as an ideal opportunity to expand an already affluent NJ sports betting community. With COVID-19 expanding the horizons of sports betting, esports quickly gained prominence among the regular bettors. As enthusiasts from around the world scatter to catch a glimpse of their favorite gamers in action, the demand for legal wagering platforms is on a steady rise.
Current eSports Scene in the USA
Esports isn’t a novelty in the United States or most developed nations globally. The Downtown Grand in Las Vegas hosted its first esports tournament back in 2016. While bookmaker William Hill received his first esports wager during another popular tournament in Nevada. Some of the largest casino giants in the country, including MGM and Caesars Entertainment, are invested heavily in esports.
While veteran bettors aren’t intrigued by esports betting yet, the younger crowd has suddenly taken an interest in gambling thanks to popular esports tournaments. Thus, opening up a whole new revenue stream for the NJ bookies.
Caputo discussed Bill A637 at the Tourism, Gaming, and the Arts Committee in January 2020, and the Bill allows betting on key skill events, including competitive food challenges. While the DGE is expected to form legislations governing the events, the Bill sets the wager limit at $100, and payout at $500. Betting is prohibited on esports events where the majority of competitors are below the age of 18.
The Road Ahead for NJ eSports Bookmakers
The League of Legends tournament paved the path for future esports events by unveiling the extent of its popularity. According to an independent projection, global esports revenue is expected to surpass $1 billion in 2020, with $400 million arriving from North America alone. The report further projects a compounded annual growth of 9% until 2022.
The United States is a major contender in future esports events and is home to a significant portion of the global audience-base. New Jersey sportsbooks hope to cater to the current batch of youngsters, aged 18 to 25 years, who prefer computer games to conventional sports. The bookies received $500 million in wagers in the very first year of legalizing esports, and that is barely scratching the surface.
According to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas gambling expert David Schwartz, while short-term betting on esports is likely to take off, it’ll be a while before esports tournaments can compete with the big three – NFL, NHL, and NBA – in the American sportsbook industry.