New Jersey lawmakers last week passed the bi-partisan bill A637 to include esports betting in the state’s legal sports betting industry.
A637, unofficially known as the esports betting bill, has generated a bulk of interest since being introduced in January 2020. The bill revises and expands on the definition of sporting events in regards to the Garden State’s sports betting regulations – esports included.
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The bill was unanimously approved by the New Jersey Assembly in July 2020, and as of Monday last week, has made its way into the state’s legislature through Senate approval.
Operators will now be authorised to accept bets on esports, but only up to $100 (~£72), with a potential winning bet of up to $500 (~£361). However, if sanctioned by the New Jersey of Gambling Enforcement (DGE), that wager limit could increase.
Current legislation permits New Jersey sportsbooks to accept wagers on esports, but only with state regulatory approval. That blessing was bestowed by the DGE in November 2019, allowing the Borgata casino in Atlantic City to accept the state’s first-ever legal esports bet on the League of Legends World Championship finals.
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In September 2020, permitted licensed operators in the Garden State accepted wagers on the VIE.gg Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Legend Series. Information surrounding the performance of these events is generally unknown.
New Jersey has served as a strong advocate for sports betting in general, playing a key role in the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn PASPA in May 2018. The state has also worked diligently to move the needle on regulated esports betting.
This includes a September 2020 initiative to curate and support businesses that ‘accelerate’ the esports industry’s development in the Garden State, led by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). The programme is intended to increase collaboration between the NJEDA, stakeholders, and local bodies to support esports activity in New Jersey, with esports wagering being a key area of focus.
Esports Insider says: It’s tough to say what impact the passing of A637 will have in regards to esports in the gambling industry. While operators can now accept bets on esports matches, the low wager limit certainly makes the market less attractive for both sportsbooks and punters. On the flip side, if operators are able to activate a handful of bettors through esports and showcase the demand for this category, that’s a meaningful win in New Jersey that may prove to be fruitful in the long term.
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