ESports betting is finally getting the type of recognition the rapidly emerging space perhaps deserves. Over the weekend, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R) made wagering on competitive video gaming fully legal.
By signing a bill that adds the tournaments to the state’s parimutuel code, Governor Sandoval solidified the legality of eSports betting in the state of Nevada for the foreseeable future.
Senate Bill 240, authored by State Sen. Becky Harris (R-Clark County), amends Nevada’s law on parimutuel wagering to include “other events” than just horse races, animal races, and athletic sporting events.
The legislation will allow Silver State sportsbooks to take odds on everything from eSports to who will win Best Actor at the Oscars. It won’t, however, allow for betting on politics.
SB 240 was passed unanimously by both the Nevada Assembly and Senate. Sandoval’s signature on the statute came as no surprise.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board, a three-member panel appointed by the governor, signed off on a recommendation from the state’s Gaming Policy Committee to allow books to take eSports bets last fall. The Downtown Grand’s William Hill sportsbook soon after became the first location to take eSports wagers.
“There’s a lot for me to learn,” Sandoval admitted last year, saying he doesn’t play video games. “And I want to be receptive to a new generation of gamers.”
Let the Games Begin
While eSports wagering has been occurring since last Thanksgiving, SB 240 enshrines it in Nevada law. Now, state regulators and casinos sit back and see whether all the fuss over video game betting is warranted.
Gaming analysts say eSports is as popular with millennials as basketball.
Perhaps that’s why earlier this year the NBA announced the formation of the NBA 2K eLeague, with 17 of the actual franchises agreeing to participate. Each eSports NBA team will consist of five gamers, who will compete against other teams in a manner that mimics the regular real-life NBA season. That unique format alone should attract plenty of eSports betting activity.
Casino operators are doing all they can to collect the most wagers.
A 15,000-square-foot, 200-seat eSports arena has opened on Fremont Street, MGM has built a new millennial playground called “Level Up,” and the Downtown Grand has a dedicated video gaming lounge that has live tournaments every Friday and Saturday night.
It’s Built, Will They Come?
The biggest question now is if the hysteria will pay off in terms of betting revenue, and new visitor arrivals to Las Vegas. The millennial is the most discussed demographic in gambling right now, as their perceived aversion of traditional gambling formats, specifically slots, is of utmost concern to casino floors.
Resorts are going all-in on eSports, but again, the investments might be too soon. A shocking report from the US Census Bureau revealed recently that the average annual pay for those currently between the ages of 18 and 34 is less than $30,000.
Assuming they aren’t still living in mom and dad’s basement, that leaves little, if anything at all, for an eSports vacation to Nevada.