Once again, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has allowed the state’s sports betting industry to expand.
The regulatory body approved state sportsbooks to begin accepting wagers on competitive video game tournaments, a faction of the fast-growing sport known as esports.
As a result, New Jersey now has legal odds on esports — a first for the state.
Finally, NJ sports betting gets into esports
When New Jersey first rolled out legalized sports betting in June 2018, the state appeared to prohibit wagering on video game competitions. But initial regulations outlined by the DGE kept those doors open.
It is difficult to ignore the rising popularity of the sport. Not only that, but there is an alternate demographic sportsbooks can reach by offering esports betting. All operators in New Jersey needed was that final stamp of regulatory approval.
David Schwartz, a gambling expert at UNLV, told the Associated Press that esports holds “the potential to be a small growth area” and that “it would be a small share of a small share of the overall sports betting handle.” He added, however:
“In the future, of course, it may become a much bigger segment, if bettors decide they want to gamble on it.”
Gaming regulators with the DGE noted they thoroughly investigated the League of Legends tournament prior to approving sportsbooks posting lines. They concluded they were satisfied with the tourney’s integrity before allowing operators to accept bets.
But it is a one-time thing and, as with 2019’s Oscars betting, may or may not return.
NJ sportsbooks tap into esports
The Borgata had the honor of taking the first legal wager on the League of Legends tournament, as a Philadelphia broadcaster laid down $100 on G2 Esports to win the title.
Nearly a year and a half after becoming the first Atlantic City casino to open a retail sportsbook, the Borgata is again a mold-breaker.
“Borgata is proud to be at the forefront of this significant milestone,” said Borgata President Marcus Glover, “as we look to engage with future generations of esports fans as well as traditional sports fans.”
The Borgata NJ sports betting app lists G2 Esports at -139 to win the world championship and FunPlus Phoenix at +115. As for map winners:
- Map 1: G2 -132, FunPlus +110
- Map 2: G2 -132, FunPlus +110
- Map 3: G2 -132, FunPlus +110
- Map 4: G2 -125, FunPlus +105
- Map 5: G2 -121, FunPlus +100
As for other NJ sportsbooks, FanDuel lists G2 Esports and FunPlus Phoenix with matching -110 lines. The same odds stand for both teams to win Map 1 and Map 2.
Over at 888 Sports, identical lines of -112 stand for each team to win the overall title as well as Map 1, Map 2 and Map 3. Fox Bet lists identical lines of -111.
NJ sports betting, esports and the future
The DGE’s allowance for New Jersey sportsbooks to accept wages on esports is yet another example of the regulatory body’s open-mindedness.
This year alone, the state has let operators take wagers on the Oscars, followed seven months later by the DGE allowing sportsbooks to accept bets on the Emmys. And that’s not to mention the KSI Logan Paul fight this weekend between the two YouTube stars.
Esports could potentially become a more-regular market. But as always, that final decision is in the hands of the DGE.
As the Associated Press noted, market research firm Newzoo estimates esports as a $1.1 billion industry annually worldwide. That represents a 27% year-over-year increase for esports, which expects to reach more than 453 million people this year alone.