For the first time in New Jersey, licensed sportsbook operators have been given explicit permission to take bets on an esports event.
According to EGR North America (paywall), New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement has issued a one-time authorization for sportsbooks to accept wagers for this weekend’s 2019 League of Legends World Championship Finals.
New Jersey’s DGE contacted local operators on Wednesday evening regarding their esports decision as well as to inform them of a pair of stipulations. The first is that customers are not allowed to bet more than $1k on the match and the second is that there will be no in-game betting, meaning all bets must be locked into place before the start of gameplay.
Originally in New Jersey, when sports betting was first introduced, the law stated that “high school sports events, electronic sports and competitive video games” were prohibited. This meant the exclusion of esports. However, the DGE quickly reversed course and clarified their stance. They sought to include esports provided that the events were not sponsored by a high school or, more importantly, not involve a player under the age of 18.
Previous challenges for wagering
In the past, this age stipulation has proven problematic for New Jersey sportsbooks. In esports, where players as young as 13 are sometimes the top players in their chosen game, age verification is simply too difficult. This one time exception for the League of Legends World Championship Finals allows sportsbooks to freely accept those wagers without having to worry about age restrictions.
The ability to take bets on the League of Legends Finals may could mean extra business for the sportsbooks as the popularity of esports continues to explode. Money has been pouring into esports, as competitive video game players from around the world meet and compete in tournaments that offer millions in total prize pools. It makes sense that sportsbooks would be eager for new ways to allow fans to interact with their favorite competitive events.
There will be a lot of attention paid to this weekend’s 2019 League of Legends World Championship, as it is considered the most prestigious yearly tournament for that particular game. In fact, the tournament has been called “The Super Bowl of Esports”. Not unlike professional sports, sponsored teams of gamers from all over the world play down in a multi-week tournament until the finals, which will finally take place on Saturday at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France.
There is plenty at stake as the winning team will take home no less than $834k of the the minimum guaranteed total prize pool is $2,225,000.
The DGE’s decision makes New Jersey the only regulated spot in the United States where fans can bet on the event other than Nevada. However, in the rest of the world, betting on esports has been a regularly listed item for some time. European sportsbooks, including some of the biggest sports betting brands in the market, having adopted the format for some time.
Additionally, determined minded bettors in the U.S. have been able to wager in unregulated offshore books that offer service to American customers.
For this week though, bettors in New Jersey can simply look to their favorite local operator to wager on one of the biggest esports events of the year.
The League of Legends World Championship Finals takes place this Saturday, November 9. Wagers need to be placed before the starting time of 7 a.m. ET.
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