The major publicly listed esports betting operator Esports Entertainment Group has announced that they submitted their application for a gaming licence with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE).
The New Jersey Licence
If the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement approves their application for a gaming licence, they will be able to operate and service bettors in New Jersey with their esports-focused betting site VIE.gg. At the moment, the VIE.gg site will be unavailable for the rest of the globe as they go through the application process in New Jersey. As a stop-gap for esports bettors, they have launched the website Vie.bet that will allow the rest of the world to keep on betting using a gaming licence from the Malta Gaming Authority. This may continue for a few months; EEG has predicted that the NJDGE will approve its submission in the second quarter of 2021.
New Jersey and online sports and esports betting
New Jersey is a major success story for online sports betting. They legalized their sports betting market in 2018 and quickly became the top state in the US for sports betting. New Jersey does not require in-person registration for online sportsbooks. This reduces the barrier for entry. Many would have been put off if they had tried to sign up online and were directed to a physical location.
The market leader in New Jersey is a joint collaboration between FanDuel and PointsBet. The two companies have partnered with the local license holder Meadowlands and therefore their revenue is shared. The most popular option for online bettors is the FanDuel sportsbook. The Esports Entertainment Group have chosen a popular state but there is already some major competition in the region.
Esports betting in the state
The state government of New Jersey is making a concerted effort to legitimise the esports betting market. They have introduced the bipartisan bill A637. This has yet to be ratified and is currently making its way through their Senate but if it passes it will permanently include esports in the state’s legal sports betting legislature. It was passed with unanimous approval in the lower house in late July of last year and will likely do the same later this year in the Senate.
Comments from EEG
Grant Johnson, CEO of Esports Entertainment Group, wrote in an announcement from the company:
“According to a study from data firm Interpret, over 50% of U.S. esports fans said they are likely to engage in esports betting so we are confident that demand will be strong. We are ready to move quickly with our esports-focused wagering platform rollout once the DGE permits us to do so, which we expect in the second quarter of this year.
“Securing access to what is currently the largest market for sports betting in the US will provide a strong advantage as we look to expand into additional markets in the US moving forward.”
Legitimized esports betting in the US
The US is the second-largest gaming market in the world. They have over 160 million gamers and the popularity of esports has never been higher. Since gambling laws are decided on the state level, there may never be a single answer to the question: “Is esports betting legal in the US?”.
States like Nevada and New Jersey are at the forefront of legal esports betting with states like Arkansas, Iowa, Mississippi, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington DC, Oregon, Montana, New Mexico, and Delaware not far behind. Until esports betting gains more traction and legitimacy, many operators will still be reticent about entering the market.