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New Jersey Lower House Approves Esports Betting Bill

Players in New Jersey could soon have esports as a betting option after a bill enabling this was passed through the Lower House. 

Backed by numerous sponsors and co-sponsors, the legislation passed without facing any big difficulties. 

The bill relates to current sports betting regulations in New Jersey, and would expand legislatory language to include skill-based games such as esports. 

The Senate must now decide on whether or not they wish to introduce legalized esports wagering in the Garden State. 

Assembly all in agreement that New Jersey should get esports betting

The debate on whether or not esports betting should be introduced to New Jersey wasn’t really a debate in the Lower House. Instead, the Assembly unanimously voted to move the legislation forward. 

The bill will now be passed on to the Senate, who will review the legislation and then vote. Should they vote in favor of expanding wagering capabilities, then esports betting will become regulated in New Jersey. 

One of the bill’s main sponsors was Eric Houghtaling. He believes that the shutdown in sports that the COVID-19 pandemic caused means that it might be a good idea to give regulated esports wagering a try. Many events moved online, as opposed to being called off completely. 

There is also the added point that many sportsbooks looked to esports as a way to pivot in a time where their revenue was suffering due to very few major sporting events. Well, unless you count Belarussian soccer as a major sporting event anyway. 

Houghtaling said the following. 

“With online sports betting now legal in New Jersey, a large number of people already interested in this type of gaming and a lack of physical sporting events to bet on right now due to the pandemic, the time is right for us to expand legal wagering beyond traditional sports.”

Will esports soon challenge the traditional realms of sports wagering? 

Esports itself is a billion-dollar industry and, according to Statista, won’t be far off $1.6 billion by the time 2023 rolls around. 

Another sponsor of the bill mentioned that events in this field are growing in popularity. As such, serving the growing demand would be a wise choice. 

They said: “Whether they follow along online or in person, hundreds of millions of people watch eSports each year – and that number is only growing. This bill will amend our existing sports betting law to include eSports and ultimately expand on the industry to make it more successful.”

Esports betting in the US 

Esports is pretty different to traditional sports, such as baseball and basketball. As such, attitudes differ between the two verticals. Whereas sports betting is expanding rapidly across the US, esports is still a somewhat unknown quantity.

One example of the differing attitudes is Indiana. Even though the state has a thriving sports betting market, there is specific language in state legislation which makes esports wagering a no-go for the time being.  

On the flip side there are some states that offer betting within this vertical. One of these is Nevada, which expanded players’ opportunities to bet on esports earlier this year. New events were added by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB), which were within Call of Duty and League of Legends – plus other popular titles. 

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