We reported a little while ago that the state of New Jersey was taking steps to clarify and legalize esports betting thanks to bill A637 being passed through local legislation channels. On Thursday 5th March, that aim became closer to realist as the bill passed through the next stage of the process.
The New Jersey Assembly Tourism, Gaming & the Arts Committee unanimously agreed to approve the bill, proposed by Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, to permanently allow most forms of betting on esports within the state.
The bill will now go on to the final stage of the process, where the Speaker will review the bill and decide whether to approve it or not. Assuming the speaker follows the lead of the two committees the bill has already passed through, the bill will then become law in New Jersey.
Details of the Bill
While the bill would open up the state to allow esports betting on the majority of top tournaments and esports, there are a couple of exceptions that are outlined within the draft proposals.
Firstly, the state would still prohibit any form of betting on esports tournaments that involve high schools, or events where the majority of participants in the tournament are under the age of 18.
In addition, while New Jersey would allow betting to take place on college esports events, people in the state would still be prohibited from betting on any collegiate esports team that is based within the state of New Jersey.
In truth, these are very small caveats to the bill and as such, it would mean that the vast majority of esports betting markets available around the world today, would then be accessible to the millions of people living in New Jersey.
“Next Big Thing”
Speaking about the bill, Ralph Caputo, one of the primary sponsors of bill A637, stated;
“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.”
Mr Caputo said the ultimate aim of the bill was to amend and clarify the state’s current esports betting laws, which are not fit for purpose.
“Throughout the country and the world, video game enthusiasts are flocking to see expert players compete in all kinds of digital games. Whether they follow along online or in person, hundreds of millions of people watch esports each year – and that number is only growing”.
Mr Caputo’s aim for the bill was to “ultimately expand on the [esports betting] industry to make it more successful [in New Jersey].”
Esports Capital of the U.S.
The news has been welcomed by many in the gaming industry within the state. Nicholas Casiello Jr, a partner in the Atlantic City-based Fox Rothschild law firm and chair of the company’s gaming group reckoned:
“The legalization of wagering on esports has the potential to make Atlantic City the esports capital of the U.S. and draw thousands of tourists to the area.”
Echoing the support for the bill, Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo outlined the next step in the process.
“Our next natural step will be to allow esports betting in New Jersey, which will undoubtedly add a new revenue stream for our state. I’m pleased to see this legislation move forward in the Assembly and look forward to seeing it being signed into law.”