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New Jersey is taking steps towards more widespread esports betting.
Assemblyman Ralph Caputo this week introduced legislation that would permanently authorize the state’s sportsbooks to accept wagers on skill-based events such as esports.
NJ sports betting operators can accept bets on esports events but have to ask permission from the state Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) on a case-by-case basis.
This has happened once to date, for the League of Legends World Championship Final in November.
Caputo sees an opportunity to expand an already burgeoning NJ sports betting market.
“With online sports betting now legal in our state and a rapidly expanding esports industry already in existence, the time is right for New Jersey to expand legal wagering beyond traditional sports,” Caputo said.
Bill A637 was discussed in the Tourism, Gaming and the Arts committee this week, where Caputo is the chair.
“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,”
“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.”
Handle was relatively light on the League of Legends tournament. That’s thanks to short notice that operators would be able to book action and restrictions on bet types and size. However there is plenty of appetite for more widespread esports action.
The research firm Newzoo reported last year that esports revenue should surpass $1 billion for the first time in 2020. North America should account for $400 million of that, according to the report.
Newzoo forecasts revenue to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9% through 2022.
Quintin Martin, COO of Isle of Man-based esports betting operator Luckbox, said esports betting could be enormous in the US.
“The US is a huge percentage of the global esports market and with so many fans residing there, it is inevitable that betting will grow,” Martin said.
“My favourite stat is that 18-25 year-olds watch more computer computer games than traditional sports. This is the future,” Martin added.
Bill Pascrell, a lobbyist with Princeton Public Affairs Group, said there was support for the bill and a good chance it would be passed this year.
“New Jersey will continue to be the lead on this, just as it was with online poker, casino and sports betting,” Pascrell said.
NJ sports betting took in more than $550 million in handle in its full first year of operation.