The Nevada Gaming Commission has approved sportsbooks to offer wagers on certain esports events. The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a grinding halt to all physical sporting activities leading to sportsbooks struggling to stay afloat with the lack of games.
Live esports events have also felt the impact of local government lockdowns. However, esports tournament organizers have years of experience in hosting events online. The global nature of esports allows teams to participate in online competitions without having to travel physically to a location. The Nevada Gaming Commission’s decision will come as a welcome relief to bookmakers who are struggling to put up enough bets to keep customers on their website.
The Nevada Gaming Commission approved sportsbooks to offer wagers on Overwatch League (OWL), League of Legends European Championship (LEC), North America League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), the League of Legends European Masters and the Call of Duty League (CDL).
Why Is Betting on Esports Matches Legal Now?
The lack of physical sports events has created a shortage of entertainment. Several North American leagues have moved their games online to retain their fans and provide quality content during the downtime. Professional NBA players like Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell are competing in the NBA 2K League. Professional players compete against each other online and basketball fans get their dose of entertainment.
Several esports events such as ESL Pro League, IEM Katowice, ESL One Los Angeles have moved online. Valve also postponed its first 2020 CS:GO Major, the ESL One Rio Major to November with an increased prize pool and a road to qualification.
In terms of what sports are left, there’s Russian table tennis and Japanese sumo wrestling. We were talking about Nicaraguan baseball, there’s some soccer in Belarus.
Joe Asher, the CEO of William Hill
With the absence of physical sports events, sportsbooks have adapted novel ways to keep their businesses afloat. Online gaming companies such as FanDuel and DraftKings have launched betting pools around politics and TV shows. But esports continues to draw record viewership and player base numbers as more and more countries go under various lockdown restrictions.
With the Nevada Gaming commission’s backing, sportsbooks can now offer wagers on online esports matches.
The Gaming Commission has only approved certain types of bets for esports matches. According to EsportsInsider, sportsbooks can now offer wagers on head-to-head, match winner, and overall winner.
Regulatory Hurdles Exist for Esports Wagering in the US
Despite the speed with which esports leagues are now up on betting websites, there is still a lot of ground to cover. With online matches in esports prone to match-fixing, the regulators had banned wagering on esports matches in the past.
In a quote on Washingtonpost.com, Seth Schorr, CEO of Fifth Street Gaming, says that each state has to approve esports betting. Every tournament has to go through an approval process, which is cumbersome and takes time. With the fast adoption of esports matches, regulators could now warm up to the idea of regularly allowing more esports events on various betting platforms.
What Do Betting Approvals Mean For Esports?
Esports is gaining widespread mainstream acceptance during the coronavirus lockdown time. Several sportsbooks are now offering wagers on esports matches. With the lack of other game options, esports will see an influx of new spectators and players.
The esports player demographic is a tech-savvy and young demographic. Most esports fans fall in the 18-34 age group. Some games have an even younger player base such as Epic Games’ Fortnite.
German automaker BMW recently announced a partnership with five of the top esports teams across the world. FaZe Clan recently raised $40 million in its Series A funding.
Esports continues to grow at a fast pace and its growth is unabated by the coronavirus pandemic.