76ers Owner Inks E-sports Betting Partnership with Esports Entertainment’s VIE.gg

Posted on: June 17, 2019, 02:38h. 

Last updated on: June 17, 2019, 02:38h.

Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE) — the majority owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, the New Jersey Devils, and EPL soccer team Crystal Palace — has partnered with esports betting operator Esports Entertainment Group in a multiyear betting deal.

Dignatis is one of the oldest and best-recognized names in esports, but its deal with VIE.gg doesn’t mean Americans can bet on the team just yet — not legally, anyway. (Image: Dignitas)

Along with its portfolio of high-profile traditional sports teams, HBSE also owns the esports outfit Dignitas, which is one of the most recognizable brands in competitive video gaming — and nothing to do with the Swiss non-profit of the same name that promotes assisted suicide.

As part of the deal, Dignitas will promote Esports Entertainment’s person-to-person wagering site, VIE.gg. The P2P model is essentially a betting exchange for esports, offering customers a marketplace to bet against one another on the outcome of esports matches, which also affords the them the opportunity to back and lay wagers, trading in real-time.

Matches on offer include Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO), Dota 2, Call of Duty, Hearthstone and StarCraft III, among others.

Eyes on US, UK

Dignitas is one of the oldest esports teams still going, dating back to 2003. It’s largely based in the UK, but its American ownership makes this the first deal between VIE.gg and a high-profile North American company.

Despite this, US residents will not be able to bet on matches via the VIE.gg platform — neither, for that matter, will UK residents.

VIE.gg launched in March last year, two months before the US Supreme Court rejected the federal ban on state-sanctioned gaming in America (PASPA). It does not currently offer betting in the US or the UK, despite it being legal in the latter, although it has ambitions to do so.

In the US, where the liberalized sports betting markets are just finding their footing, regulated online esports betting is not currently available in anything other than daily fantasy sports and “skill-based” formats.

Skill-based betting, involves players betting on themselves in a match up versus the computer — or the “house.”

Straight-up esports betting is nominally legal in Nevada and New Jersey, however. An early version of New Jersey’s sports betting bill, passed last year in the wake of PASPA’s repeal, prohibited betting on “electronic sports, and competitive video games.”

But lawmakers later amended the legislation to permit esports betting provided all competitors were over 17 years old — which, in many of the top esports competitions, is not always the case.

Esports Betting ‘Too Soon’ for US

Esports betting has the potential to a become a huge betting option for the US markets once they have reached confidence and maturity. According to NJGames.org, the total amount bet on esports competitions is expected to hit $12.9 billion by 2020.

And meanwhile, Americans continue to bet on the black market, which is fuelled by skins betting and remains all-too accessible to minors, making regulation an even likelier option in the long run.