New Jersey is considering giving esports its own place in the state’s internet gambling market.
Sports betting has been legal under New Jersey law since 2021, but only through sports betting operators. Legislation (S2986) filed last Thursday by Senator James BeachD-Cherry Hill, would include esports in the state’s definition of Internet gaming while leaving it as a sports betting option.
The bill would essentially allow Atlantic City casinos to be allowed to operate esports outside of their traditional online casino offerings, bypassing New Jersey’s limit of five online casino licenses per physical casino.
For punters, the ever-changing esports market could lead to today’s number of The National Law Review calls “an almost infinite number of new betting categories”.
It could mean an even bigger handful for a state looking to build on its already massive success. $4.79 billion Internet gambling industry.
NJ Esports Proposal Details
The proposed change comes as New Jersey lawmakers consider changes to online gambling before its 2013 online casino law expires this fall. September 25 Associated Press report says New Jersey lawmakers are in talks to extend internet gaming for another 10 years.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy would have said at a casino conference last week, he will sign off on an online casino extension if passed by state lawmakers.
While S2986 would not expand the online casino law, it would allow New Jersey casinos to offer esports as internet gaming advances.
For sports bettors, the bill would allow online esports-only sports pools operated by sports betting operators. Each casino or racetrack with a sports betting license would be eligible for up to two individually branded esports apps for their online pools.
How would Esports iGaming affect sports betting – if any?
Major legal esports platforms in the US today include Twitch, YouTube Gaming, Discord, and more. Legal betting is done through licensed apps. Sports betting apps DraftKings and FanDuel are some of the best brands offering legal sports betting on fantasy games like League of Legends, Call of Duty, Dota, and Rocket League.
Now, legal betting applications dedicated to esports are starting to go online. VIE — the first licensed bet reserved for electronic sports app in North America — launched in New Jersey this year through its partnership with Bally’s Atlantic City.
The VIE app is owned by Esports Entertainment Group (EEG) and offers the best fantasy games, billing itself as “all esports, all the time”. But it is still a sports betting mobile application.
If esports were to be added to the state’s definition of Internet gaming, it remains to be seen how that would impact the management of sports betting in New Jersey. Traditional sports betting operators might see more competition in esports, but they will still be able to compete.
According to S2986, “Nothing in this bill would prohibit a traditional sports betting operator from offering sports betting, which is currently permitted.”
Any change is unlikely to have much effect on land-based New Jersey casinos. Atlantic City casinos would retain control of any legal betting app in the NJ market. They might even have the opportunity to forge new partnerships down the road.
What’s NJ’s Next Esports Bill?
S2986 was introduced in the Senate on September 22. It was referred to the Senate Committee on State Government, Gambling, Tourism and Historic Preservation.
No date has been set for the committee to vote on the bill, but there is plenty of time to act this year.
The last day of session of the New Jersey State Legislature in 2022 is December 31.
Image by Roman Kosolapov
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