New Jersey Senate Committee Puts Money on Eating Contests and Other ‘Sports’

Posted on: March 23, 2021, 04:18h. 

Last updated on: March 23, 2021, 04:32h.

A New Jersey bill that would allow the state’s sports betting operators to take bets on competitive eating contests and the Oscars advanced Monday from the Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee. A companion bill was unanimously approved by the state Assembly in June.

New Jersey betting
World-class competitive-eating athletes in Nathan’s Hotdog Eating Contest, held every July 4 in Coney Island. (Image: 600 Festival)

Sens. Jim Beach’s (D-6th) and Chris Brown’s (R-2nd) would loosen the definition of the term “sports event” to include “any skill-based attraction, including awards competitions and competitive eating contests.”

New Jersey has permitted wagering on the Oscars before, but only by special dispensation from the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE). This legislation would officially legalize and codify the practice of betting on the awards ceremony and “other skill-based attractions.”

Oscars Controversy

Most states that have regulated sports betting do not permit Oscars betting. The practice is controversial in that the results are known to a small group of people before the winner is made public, which at least creates the possibility of insider manipulation.

Competitive eating contests, on the other hand, would seem to be practically incorruptible.

But just in case anyone is tempted to try to rig one, the bill stipulates that a “wager limit not more than $100 or a win limit of $500, whichever is greater,” will be imposed in the absence of specific regulations.

Keeping limits low should help to safeguard the integrity of these events, while protecting sports books from fraud.

Age Limits for Esports

The second part of the bill relates to esports betting, which has been permitted at New Jersey sports books since September last year. It addresses the prevalence of underage players in competitive video gaming.

Just as with high school sports events, esports matches with young competitors should be out of bounds to bettors.

Under existing law, certain events, such as high school sporting events, are considered ‘prohibited sports events’ and cannot be wagered on. This bill expands on ‘prohibited sports events’ to include electronic sports competitions sponsored by or affiliated with high schools or competitions in which the majority of competitors are under the age of 18,” reads the bill.

“The bill also clarifies the age limit regarding certain sports events to accommodate the growing trend of younger competitors in the video gaming community,” it continues.

Esports and esports betting have achieved even greater ascendancy during lockdown. But in the past, the sport has suffered from a corruption problem. This has not been helped by the relative immaturity of its competitors and the unregulated nature of early esports betting sites.