Esports betting is now legal and online in the state of New Jersey.
For those wondering what esports are, the term is actually very easy to define. They are computer games that allow users to play the game against each other either for fun or in specially organized tournaments, and they have developed a popular online following.
Believe it or not, it is legal to bet on esports in New Jersey via regulated betting apps, though you won’t find these betting markets on every app just yet.
Esports betting is in its infancy in NJ (and in the US in general) so if you’re new to it, don’t worry, so are we! Here, we walk you through the basics of betting on esports in New Jersey, including how and where to legally place bets in the Garden State.
Best Esports Betting Sites in New Jersey for 2023
What are esports?
The term esports is a compound term from electronic sports, which was shortened to esports.
In general, Esports tends to refer to the more organized and professionally-run tournaments, which may have cash prizes available to be won and which attract the top players and teams of each esports title to compete.
The esports industry has grown markedly over the last 10 years in particular and this has been expedited by a number of key advances in technology and gaming. Notably the increase in the speed and availability of internet connections, the development of console and PC gaming over the Internet, and an increase in the number of titles best enjoyed by playing against others over the Internet as opposed to playing a solo mission at home.
From this initially ad-hoc arrangement, the first esports tournaments were organized and now there are many different esports tournaments across multiple titles played every week of the year. The most popular tournaments have millions tuning in to watch via live stream with prize money measured in millions, or even tens of millions. Many also enjoy betting on the events.
Does New Jersey have any esports betting apps?
Pick your NJ online sportsbook of choice and at the moment, you’re likely to find limited events tied into esports wagering. However, this will change over time as state regulators approve events and betting apps add them to their offerings.
Esports Entertainment Group, operating under Bally’s Atlantic City license, has received a transitional waiver from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to start accepting wagers.
Launching with the VIE app, EEG is the first esports-dedicated operator in the Garden State.
NJ Esports gamblers can access the betting lines via the web browser platform vie.gg. The app will be available at a later date.
Unlike NJ sports betting, bettors will not find odds for live events, at least not yet.
Players who register for an account on the VIE app during the soft play period will be able to wager on live events when they are posted.
Are there any esports betting tournaments taking place in NJ?
Yes. Esports Entertainment Group is partnering with Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City to host a two-day Madden NFL video game tournament on March 19 and 20.
The event is historic as it will be the first sanctioned esports wagering event in the United States. We are likely to see more events like this, especially as NJ becomes a main hub for esports betting.
The most common and popular esports titles
Given that the most popular esports titles cover a large range of games across different genres, we group the most popular titles into the most common game types, together with a short explanation of each.
Let’s start with the esports titles that are currently the most played, streamed and viewed in the world today.
Multi-Player Online Battle Arena (MOBA) esports
- League of Legends (LoL)
- Defense of the Ancients 2 (DOTA 2)
- Arena of Valor
- Heroes of the Storm (HOTS)
These games are played in a large arena of some kind between multiple players on opposing teams. The aim of the game is to win the map by defeating your opponent across multiple battles and by strategic moves by using your characters’ different abilities on screen.
First-Person Shooter (FPS) esports
- Counter-Striker Global Offensive (CSGO)
- Call of Duty
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
- Team Fortress 2
First person Shooter games are games where either individuals or teams of players compete against other opponents to complete objectives and/or (more usually) eliminate the other team by shooting them. These games are called First Person shooters as the view on screen is shown as if you were viewing the scene in real life (first person).
Battle Royale games
- PUBG Battlegrounds
- Apex Legends
- Call of Duty Warzone
Battle Royale games are similar to First Person Shooters in that players must eliminate opponents, but in this game, there is a more individual aspect to the game and many more players playing. The aim of the game is to be the last player standing on the map having seen all other players eliminated from the game.
- Street Fighter
- Super Smash Bros.
- Mortal Kombat
- Marvel Vs Capcom
These games are games where one opponent takes on another in a one-on-one battle often using a variety of martial arts and specialist moves dependent on their character. The aim of the game is to beat your opponent over a series of rounds.
- F1 Official Games
- Project CAR
- Gran Turismo Sport
As the name suggests, these esports titles are based on racing, most often cars.
- FIFA (soccer)
- eFootball (soccer – formerly Pro Evolution Soccer)
- Madden (American football)
- NBA2K (basketball)
- Rocket League
All these games are popular esports titles based on popular sports, with the exception of Rocket League which is a more futuristic version of soccer, played using rocket-powered vehicles.
- Magic: The Gathering Aren
- Legends of Runeterra
Card esports titles involve players utilizing a variety of cards to win battles against their opponents to achieve an overall victory for their team.
- StarCraft I
- Age of Empires
- Clash of Clans
- World of Warcraft
- Teamfight Tactics
These are titles that are popular esports, but which may not fit easily into any of the categories listed above.
Which are the most popular esports games for betting?
As you can see from the list above, the number of popular esports titles is extensive, but when it comes to esports betting, the number of titles that are most popular to bet on is smaller. Generally, the most popular titles in terms of players and streamers viewing the games are also the most popular for esports betting.
CSGO is arguably the most popular esports betting title, due to the sheer number of different tournaments available around the world throughout the year. Its ready availability and massive popularity make it a very popular option for esports betting enthusiasts.
League of Legends and Dota 2 are also very popular, with these two esports offering us the two biggest esports tournaments in the world. The League of Legends World Championships is the most popular in terms of viewers and streams and the Dota 2 The International tournament offers the richest prize in esports.
These three esports are arguably the most dominant in the esports betting industry, but there are a number of other esports that are enjoying a surge in popularity in recent times. Increasing popularity for titles such as Valorant and Call of Duty, not to mention Overwatch has seen a growing interest in betting on these esports, while top esports tournaments based on sporting events, such as Madden, NBA2K and FIFA also draw in plenty of interest too.
Is esports betting legal in New Jersey?
If you are based in New Jersey, this is very much the key question around esports. The good news is that since New Jersey lawmakers passed the bi-partisan bill A637 back in June 2021, it has been legal for sports betting sites to offer esports betting to their customers.
The bill expanded the definition of sporting events within New Jersey to also include esports events for the first time. Previous to the bill being passed, sportsbooks were only permitted to offer esports betting in New Jersey if granted state regulatory approval.
The first legal sports bet was made with that approval on the 2019 League Of Legends World Championship finals, and state permission was granted for further esports events after that.
Then, a bill was introduced in January 2020 with a view to legalizing esports bets which passed the senate in June 2021. It was eventually signed in November 2021.
While operators can now legally offer esports, there are still some limits in place. The maximum bet an operator can accept on esports is $100 and the maximum payout on any esports bet is capped at $500.
This has drawn criticism from some who feel the lower limits will put off higher stakes’ gamblers from wagering on esports.
Since the bill was passed, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) has been working hard to support and promote esports activity across the state, with part of its focus being on developing interest in esports betting in New Jersey.
Can you bet on esports at New Jersey sportsbooks?
Yes, you can, but it is dependent on the sportsbook offering esports to its customers. Given that it took four months to sign off on the bill, many sportsbooks have only been able to start formalizing their esports offering since November 2021, and as such, you may well find that some sites are rolling out their esports betting offering quicker than others.
There is nothing legally now stopping sports betting apps in New Jersey from offering esports; it is simply a case of waiting for them to add esports betting to their sites.
Currently, you may find esports markets (depending on event schedules) at DraftKings Sportsbook NJ, FanDuel Sportsbook NJ and Bet365 Sportsbook NJ. But the likelihood is that over time, the number of esports betting sites will increase markedly in the state.
At the moment though, it is fair to say that esports betting is still in its fledgling phase within New Jersey, but that this market will develop quickly and significantly in the coming months in terms of size, popularity and revenue.
Esports betting vs. sports betting: Key differences
To someone unfamiliar with esports betting, it may appear as though this type of wagering is completely different than sports betting, but as we shall see in the section below, they actually share far more similarities than they do differences.
Of course, the big difference with esports betting compared to sports betting is that you are betting on the performance of players or teams who are playing computer games. This is an entirely different discipline than betting on sports events which are more physical and require the players to have different skills.
There are other differences between esports and sports betting. In Madden, for example, a game between two players may take around 8-12 minutes to be completed. In the NFL, the same game, even featuring the same teams, will take around 3-4 hours to be completed. In Soccer, FIFA games take between 8-10 minutes to be completed usually. A standard soccer game takes 90 minutes.
Of course, seeing as esports are entirely different disciplines than sports events, the types of betting markets you find for esports can be very different than sports bets, but in some cases, especially for sports-based esports, you can find very similar bets too (such as betting on a team to win a match). That is not the only similarity we find between the worlds of esports and sports betting.
How are esports and sports betting similar?
Although it may seem that esports betting is very different than sports betting, there are many similarities.
First of all, the actual process of selecting a bet, placing your stake on the bet with your choice of bookmaker and then, provided your bet wins, being paid out at the stated odds is entirely the same regardless of whether you bet on sports or esports.
Other similarities between esports and sports betting include a high level of intensity in the competition, top-level professionals competing in the events you choose to bet on, strict regulation of events to prevent fraud or cheating and of course, $100 won on esports betting is the same as $100 won on sports betting.
Furthermore, people from younger generations including millennials and generation Z are growing up with esports betting and gain as much enjoyment from it as previous generations have from sports betting.
Esports betting vs. virtual sports betting: What’s the difference?
Another fast-growing and popular betting option is Virtual Sports. Many people confuse Virtual Sports with esports and it is perhaps easy to understand why. They are both computer-program based and both offer betting to customers. However, that is where the similarities end.
In Virtual Sports, a game or sports race is simulated via the program, which also offers the opportunity for people to bet on certain markets for that virtual sport. A shortened version of the event is then simulated, often with highlights shown on screen and then the winning bets are highlighted.
Betting on Virtual Sports is entirely down to the programming and the degree of randomness built into the game, whereas in Esports, like in real sports, you can research your bets and use your judgement on which markets and bets to back. Esports also happen in real-time and with real teams of players. Virtual Sports do not.
In truth, Virtual Sports share more similarities with slot games (they are governed by a random number generator) than esports betting which has far more in common with traditional sports betting.
New Jersey is fast becoming a big part of the esports revolution, lighting a beacon for esports betting in the United States. Exciting times lie ahead for esports fans in those states that choose to allow esports betting!