New Jersey is looking at giving esports its own spot in the state’s internet gambling market.
Esports betting has been legal under New Jersey law since 2021 but only through sports betting operators. Legislation (S2986) filed last Thursday by Sen. James Beach, D-Cherry Hill, would include esports under the state’s definition of internet gaming while also leaving it as a sports betting option.
The bill would essentially allow Atlantic City casinos to be permitted to operate esports outside of their traditional online casino offerings, sidestepping New Jersey’s limit of five online casino permits per brick-and-mortar casino.
For bettors, the ever-evolving esports market could lead to what today’s issue of The National Law Review calls “a near infinite number of new betting categories.”
That could mean an even bigger handle for a state looking to build on its already massively successful $4.79 billion internet gambling industry.
Details About the NJ Esports Proposal
The proposed change comes as New Jersey lawmakers consider online gaming tweaks ahead of the expiration of its 2013 online casino law, which is set to expire this fall. A Sept. 25 Associated Press report said New Jersey lawmakers are in talks to extend internet gaming for another 10 years.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy reportedly said at a casino conference last week that he will sign an online casino extension if passed by state lawmakers.
Although S2986 would not extend the online casino law, it would allow New Jersey casinos to offer esports as internet gaming moving forward.
For sports bettors, the bill would allow esports-only online sports pools operated by sports betting operators. Each casino or racetrack with a sports betting license would be eligible for up to two individually-branded esports apps for their online pools.
How Would Esports iGaming Affect Sports Betting – If At All?
Top legal esports platforms in the US today include Twitch, YouTube Gaming, Discord, and more. Legal betting is through licensed apps. Sports betting apps DraftKings and FanDuel are among the top brands offering legal esports betting on fantasy games like League of Legends, Call of Duty, Dota, and Rocket League.
Now legal esports-dedicated betting apps are starting to come online. VIE — the first licensed esports-only betting app in North America — launched in New Jersey this year through its partnership with Bally’s Atlantic City.
The VIE app is owned by Esports Entertainment Group (EEG) and offers top fantasy games, billing itself as “all esports, all the time.” But it is still a mobile sports betting app.
Should esports be added to the state’s definition of internet gaming, it remains to be seen how that would impact the sports betting handle in New Jersey. Traditional sports betting operators could see more competition in the esports arena — but they will still be able to compete.
According to S2986, “Nothing in this bill would prohibit a traditional sports wagering operator from offering esports wagering, which is currently permitted.”
Any change is unlikely to have much of an effect on New Jersey’s brick-and-mortar casinos. Atlantic City casinos would retain control over any legal betting app in the NJ market. They might even have an opportunity to forge new partnerships down the road.
What is Next For NJ’s Esports Bill?
S2986 was introduced in the Senate on Sept. 22. It has been referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee.
No date has been set for the committee to act on the bill, but there is plenty of time left to act this year.
The last day of session for the New Jersey State Legislature in 2022 is Dec. 31.
Image by Roman Kosolapov