Casinos and racetracks in New Jersey are now betting on professional eSports tournaments, seeking to expand the fast-growing sports betting industry in the state to the $1 billion gaming tournament market.
The State Gaming Enforcement Division gave permission on Thursday to wager on what gambling companies hope will be a significant new source of income from young people who may not be attracted to conventional casino games but spend hours watching and playing video games, as stated by the Associated Press.
Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa made the first bet of the state on this week’s League of Legends championship in Paris on Thursday. Sports broadcaster Howard Eskin from Philadelphia is betting $100 on Team G2 to win the title.
The event is growing rapidly throughout the world in popularity, and Atlantic City wants to become a major player in it. “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,”,” said Marcus Glover, Borgata Chairman.
Esports are already well known and growing rapidly in the United States. The Downtown Grand in Las Vegas designed an eSports lounge in 2016, hosting tournaments, and making the first sports wager on an eSports event in Nevada with bookmaker William Hill. In addition, major gambling companies including Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International have invested in competitions and facilities for eSports.
Newzoo’s market research firm is putting eSports worldwide this year on a $1.1 billion market, up nearly 27 percent from a year earlier. The company plans to create an economic activity of $1.8 billion by 2022. It said more than 453 million people will reach the international eSports audience this year.
David Schwartz, a gaming expert at Nevada-Las Vegas University, said the sports market is still limited for now and, like any new sport, he acknowledged that there may be questions about match-fixing and other compliance issues that may further slow the growth of the eSports betting market, reports AP. New Jersey gaming regulators said they investigated the tournament thoroughly before allowing bets on it until they were pleased with its credibility.
In New Jersey, Isle of Man-based Continent 8 is building at the Atlantic City Convention Center a $5 million data centre to support not only the data-intensive eSports industry, but also online gaming and sports betting technology.
Over the past two years, several Atlantic City casinos have hosted tournaments, and Stockton University is joining the intercollegiate eSports competition at the Eastern College Athletic Conference.