Given the fragmented nature of gambling legislation across the United States, it is never going to be a case of a quick fix for esports betting to be made legal across the union.
However, moves such as West Virginia’s recent motion towards legalising esports betting in the state is making the situation clearer.
The introduction of House Bill 4826 last week, would see the legal sports betting market in West Virginia expanded to include esports betting.
It classes esports as an event or “electronic sport or competitive video game played as a game of skill for spectators.”
Delegates Moore Capito, Bennett Queen, Steve Westfall, Shawn Fluharty, Clay Riley and Daniel Linville are sponsoring the bill, which currently is with the House Finance Committee where it will be discussed in greater detail.
What’s The Situation In West Virginia Regarding Sports & Esports Betting?
Currently, it is legal in West Virginia to bet on professional and collegiate sports events and competitions.
However, as is the case in many states which have legalised sports betting, the legality of esports betting is somewhat unclear given that there has not been legislation made to clarify whether it is legal or not.
Now West Virginia is following the likes of New Jersey, who also recently legalised esports betting in the state, in clarifying that esports betting will, if the bill passes through West Virginia’s House of Representatives, be legalised.
It is also likely that many other states that now permit sports betting, due to the repealing of the PASPA act, will likely be wanting to clarify the legality, or not, of esports betting within their state.
Especially given that esports betting is reckoned to be one of the fastest-growing markets within the betting industry and its huge appeal to the key millennial and Gen.Z demographics.
Why Isn’t Esports Included With Sports Betting?
It’s a good question as in many parts of the world, the laws that govern sports betting are generally applied to esports betting with little or no issues and only minor tweaks to that legislation required to be made.
However, the fragmented nature of the sports gambling industry in the United States, and the fact that more and more states are now legalising sports betting has made a uniform approach impossible to achieve across the country.
So what has happened, when states have made sports betting legal, they have not included reference to esports within that, whether by accident or by design. This has meant that the legality of esports in some states is either unclear, or not legal.
Therefore, states which have permitted sports betting are now addressing the issue of whether they also want to offer esports betting in the state too.
Opponents have stated that the fact youngsters below the permitted gambling age participate in these events means that they should not be available to gamble upon.
However, supporters of esports point out that people are allowed to wager on college sports, where many of the competitors are below the age of 21.
West Virginia’s move is an important one and it follows a similar move in New Jersey and as more states start to offer esports betting, and perhaps more importantly see the benefits of offering it, it is likely more states will follow their example in the coming months.