Esports bettors are more likely to use online services than traditional sports bettors exclusively, so they might not be familiar with the betting industry’s legal side. Despite the popularity of betting on professional gaming, only four states have explicitly legalized online esports betting in the US; Tennessee, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Nevada.
Las Vegas has a long history with competitive gaming. Esports peripheral manufacturer HyperX has its own esports arena built into the Luxor hotel. The Evolution fighting games championships have been hosted across the Las Vegas strip since 2005.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board has officially vetted online esports betting, but it isn’t completely legalized in the state. A few restrictions were specifically outlined:
- The only fully-approved bets are head-to-heads and outrights
- All wagers must be made before the match in question begins
These caveats bring some unfortunate implications to esports bettors in Nevada. In-game or live betting is off the table, as are many of the conditional bets that traditional sports bettors are used to, like the spread and match time. Even with those stipulations, Nevadans in Las Vegas and beyond can still enjoy the excitement of esports betting.
LEGAL ESPORTS BETTING SITES IN NEVADA
The push to legalize esports bettings in 2020 is not coincidental; the pandemic forced many traditional gambling businesses to shut down or curtail their normal operations. Also, many sports leagues like the NFL and NBA were forced to postpone or cancel games. Esports can take place anywhere at any time, meaning that online betting opportunities never stop rolling in.
Hundreds of betting sites in Nevada and beyond have integrated pro gaming into their sportsbooks, letting you wager on esports and regular sports from the same site. Draftkings is an excellent example of a betting site successfully adding esports options.
In addition to sites that cover both kinds of competition, several betting sites are wholly dedicated to esports betting. Unikrn leverages its esports-only sportsbook to bring innovation to the table. While the use of these sites is explicitly allowed under Nevada law, you don’t have to place an online bet from Las Vegas to use them.
There’s plenty of nuance to both the legality of betting and the sportsbooks that support it. If you’re looking for an online betting site to call home, check out our comprehensive bookmakers’ reviews.
HOW NEVADA LEGALIZED ESPORTS BETTING
Since the judicial overturning of the Bradley Act, Nevada lawmakers have been quick to add esports to their state’s betting market. Nevada State Senate Bill No. 240 amended the state’s definition of legal sports that can be bet on to add video games. While the state congress first gave the go-ahead for online esports betting in November of 2017, Las Vegas now treats esports very similarly to their traditional counterpart, thanks to Bill No. 240.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
It’s no secret that the growth of esports betting is primarily due to the global pandemic, but COVID won’t be around forever. Esports have pushed their advantages over big sports leagues, with online tournaments running non-stop throughout 2020. Once the health risks are either mitigated or eliminated, will esports keep the momentum?
Las Vegas revenue took a significant hit in 2020; the Nevada Gaming Control Board estimates that larger properties on the strip miss out on up to $700,000 a day. Esports has created an alternate avenue for bookkeepers to stay afloat. Dedicated esports betting sites like the aforementioned Unikrn have been operating long before the pandemic.
The real question is whether traditional sports bettors will continue paying attention to esports once the big leagues return to normalcy. The most challenging part of online esports is learning how the games work, which most Nevada bettors have probably gotten past already. Esports production values already rival those of sporting events, so they might stick around well after the pandemic.