New Jersey appears ready to take its sports betting game to the next level by allowing legal wagers on competitive video game competitions.
A state Senate committee unanimously moved a bill this week that would allow gambling operators to accept bets on esports tournaments.
The bill (A637/S2670) will also permit betting on award shows and competitive eating contests.
In terms of where things currently stand, the state Assembly voted 74-0 in favor of allowing esports betting in July.
After clearing committee Monday, the bill now moves to the full Senate. If approved, it would need the governor’s signature to become law.
Esports betting makes NJ ‘more attractive’ to gaming companies
Betting on esports in NJ is already allowed. But, it requires case-by-case approval from the director of the state Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE).
The new bill would permanently allow legal wagering on video game competitions.
DGE Director David Rebuck weighed in on the growing popularity of Esports last summer.
“… Allowing betting on esports not only provides more variety for sports wagering enthusiasts but also makes New Jersey more attractive to the innovative companies that drive this growing industry,” said Rebuck.
Evidence of growing trend already here
Proponents of the idea point to esports’ growing popularity and appeal with younger people.
“I would say esports are the ‘next big thing’ when it comes to sporting events, but the fact of the matter is that video game tournaments are already a prominent form of skill-based competition,” said Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, D-Essex.
He is one of the bill’s primary sponsors and a former Atlantic City casino executive.
Caputo said the legislation would amend the state’s existing sports betting law and “ultimately expand on the industry to make it more successful.”
Bally’s, Esports Entertainment Group got the jump
For now, the Esports betting story continues to be a wait-and-see process. However, Esports Entertainment Group, a Malta-based gaming operator, isn’t waiting to see how things unfold.
The company has set up a New Jersey office, getting the jump on the competition in the Garden State.
Call it a small piece of a much bigger plan.
EEG securing a market access partnership with Bally’s Corp., the parent company of the Atlantic City casino with the same name, is another big piece of the puzzle.
Getting licensed by New Jersey regulators is the next step, and that process is underway.
EEG submitted its gaming license application in February. Approval is expected in the second quarter of 2021.
So, if everything goes according to plans, 2021 could be a very interesting year.