Legal sports betting in New Jersey got even bigger a couple of weeks ago. Now the state’s casinos and racetracks can take bets on eSports tournaments. The state Division of Gaming Enforcement gave approval to sportsbooks earlier this month. The goal is for New Jersey to expand its rapidly growing sports betting market by entering into the $1 billion video game tournament market.
eSports Betting Isn’t New
This isn’t the beginning of eSports betting in the United States. In 2016, the Downtown Grand in Las Vegas built an eSports lounge and hosted tournaments. Bookmaker William Hill took the first sports wager placed in Nevada on an esports tournament. Other major gambling companies such as Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International have invested in eSports facilities and tournaments.
With the inclusion of eSports, casinos and racetracks hope that they can now reach a new target audience. The typical sports bettor may not be to intrigued by this new form of betting but a younger crowd of video game enthusiasts certainly will. This is a chance for sportsbooks and the state of New Jersey to draw revenue from a different demographic.
Borgata Takes First eSports Bet in New Jersey
The Borgata took the first eSports wager for New Jersey.
“We are grateful to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement for their partnership in helping advance such an innovative initiative,” Borgata president and COO Marcus Glover said in a statement. “Borgata is proud to be at the forefront of this significant milestone as we look to engage with future generations of esports fans as well as traditional sports fans.”
Future of eSports Betting Market
University of Nevada-Las Vegas Gambling expert David Schwartz talked about how the eSports market is still small and how it can grow down the road.
“I think in the short term, betting on esports has the potential to be a small growth area. There is definitely fan interest, but right now betting on sports outside of the big three — football, basketball, baseball — is pretty small in the U.S. So it would be a small share of the overall sports betting handle. As with any new sport, there may be concerns over match-fixing and other compliance issues, which may further slow the growth of the market for esports betting,” he said. “In the future, of course, it may become a much bigger segment, if bettors decide they want to gamble on it.”
Newzoo, a market research firm, estimated that eSports is a $1.1 billion market worldwide. This is a more than 26% increase from last year. Newzoo projects that eSports will generate $1.8 billion in economic activity by the year 2022. They said the worldwide eSports audience will reach more than 453 million people this year.
New Jersey is not the only state to benefit from eSports betting. FanDuel announced that eSports wagering will be available in all states that they operate in, including Indiana, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.