This past weekend saw another landmark reached in the relatively short history of betting in the state of New Jersey, when the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement allowed the states sports betting industry to take a number of different bets on an esports tournament, specifically, the League of Legends World Championship final.
Shortly after the announcement, a number of sites such as Borgata, PlaySugarHouse, FanDuel Sportsbook, Fox Bet and 888 Sportsbook had posted esports odds on the final of the prestigious tournament which eventually saw Chinese team Fun Plus Phoenix claim the title with a 3-0 win over G2 Esports to take the $834,375 top prize.
One Off Event
However, if New Jersey esports betting fans were hoping that this would precipitate a rush of different esports betting opportunities to become available in the state, then they are going to have to be patient. All sports books have announced that betting on the LoL World Final was a ‘one off event’ for the time being, in much the same way that betting was allowed on the outcome of some of the main categories for the 2019 Oscars ceremony.
It certainly wasn’t a simple decision for the New Jersey gambling regulators to allow League of Legends betting, or more generally, betting on esports. The regulators made it clear that they had ‘thoroughly investigated’ the League of Legends World Championship as a tournament and had gained sufficient evidence of its authenticity before approving sports betting sites to allow betting on it.
One would assume now that the same authorities may well be looking into allowing betting on other esports events, although its overall appeal to bettors in the state of New Jersey is not yet clear.
“Small Growth Area”
Gambling expert David Schwartz told the Associated Press that he felt esports has “the potential to be a small growth area” but did add a notable caveat stating that “In the future, it may become a much bigger segment, if bettors decide they want to gamble on it.”
Evidence collected by Statista suggests that punters certainly do want to bet on esports however with one report suggesting that the esports betting market will grow from US$24 million in 2015, to an incredible US$1.81 billion dollars by 2020.
The decision by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement was met with a uniformly positive reaction from sports books and sites with Marcus Glover, the President and Chief Operating Officer for Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa stating:
“Borgata is proud to be at the forefront of this significant milestone as we look to engage with future generations of esports fans as well as traditional sports fans.
“We are grateful to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement for their partnership in helping advance such an innovative initiative.”
40% of Global Market
Given that North America, at current estimates, is responsible for around 40% of the current global market for esports, it seems highly likely that far from being a one-off event, esports betting may well return to New Jersey at some point in the near future. It is abundantly clear that the United States is a key player in the esports industry and as its betting regulations are relaxed, it seems probable that more opportunities to bet on esports will come in the not too distant future.
Image courtesy of LoL Esports