This past weekend saw a monumental moment for sports betting in New Jersey when the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) allowed licensed gambling operators to accept bets on the League of Legends World Championship finals.
Local betting operators leapt at the opportunity to extend their reach into a whole new market. FanDuel was the first New Jersey bookie to start taking wagers on the tournament, with several rivals following suit.
New Jersey legalized sports betting on June 11, 2018, making it one of the first states to regulate gambling on sporting events after the US Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) a few weeks earlier. The move has proved wildly successful, with the Garden State amassing close to US $285 million in gambling revenue since then.
The New Jersey betting industry made a huge step forward last weekend, when the DGE gave online sportsbooks a weekend pass to take bets for the 2019 League of Legends World Championship finals between G2 Esports and FunPlus Phoenix. Bookies could accept up to $1,000 in wagers on the match, but in-game betting was prohibited.
The DGE’s decision was historic in two ways. Not only did it mark the first time in history US sportsbooks were allowed to accept bets on esports events, but it also went against New Jersey’s rules against wagering on high school sports events, video game competitions and esports. Those regulations were later changed to prohibit only wagers on events that are sponsored by a high school or involve players that are under the age of 18.
A similar stand was taken by Sweden in August this year, when the Swedish Gambling Authority implemented regulations which would prevent anyone from betting on esports events where players are under the legal age of 18. These measures were introduced to combat match-fixing and betting corruption, which have plagued esports for years.
The age restriction was still in place this weekend, but none of the participating players were under the legal age. The youngest competitors in the LoL Worlds finals were MVP Gao “Tian” Tian-Liang and Rasmus “Caps” Borregaard Winther, who were both 19 years old at the time of the series.
Nevada is the only US state that allows esports betting on a full-time basis. However, with the American betting industry advancing at a rapid rate, we can expect more states to follow in NV’s footsteps.
The esports industry continues to blossom all over the world and is now worth over $1.5 billion, with revenue numbers increasing up to 30% per year. According to Statista analysts, esports betting revenue has exploded from $24 million in 2015 to a projected $1.81 billion in 2020, which presents a huge business opportunity for online bookmakers.