The future is here.

Earlier this week, New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement gave approval to the Esports Entertainment Group to accept bets on competitive video games or esports. According to an article by WBGO, the London-based Esports Entertainment Group (which also has an office in Hoboken, NJ), launched its betting platform after a five-day “soft play” period in late January.

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Customers placed bets on people playing Call of Duty, League of Legends, and other games. Additional games, such as Kings League II, the Overwatch League, and FIFA are expected to be added in the near future.

“As far as we know, we are the first esports focused gambling site to go through the regulatory approval process in the North American market,” Grant Johnson, CEO of the Esports Entertainment Group, said in an article by the New Jersey Business Magazine. “We believe that being the first movers [in the market] matters.”

Esports could generate millions for New Jersey this year

Johnson said he hopes that EEG will generate $1-$2 million in revenue for New Jersey in the first year of esports wagering.

The New Jersey Business Magazine article also noted that globally, the esports market is expected to be valued at $205 billion by 2027.

Those numbers, combined with the strength of esports among the critical 18-35 male demographic, have caused many others to take notice.

Is There Esports Betting in Pennsylvania?

In June of 2021, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives introduced legislation that would legalize esports betting in Pennsylvania statewide. However, that legislation has yet to be approved.

Much like the expansion of sports betting in PA, it’s likely esports betting will also gain a greater foothold in the United States over time.

If approved, Esports betting in Pennsylvania could prove to be a force. A recent article on PennLive cited data from the Action Network that placed Pennsylvania at No. 3 among the other states in terms of earnings from esports tournaments.

If esports betting in Pennsylvania is approved, that revenue stream will only grow larger. Esports tournaments may place a premium on locations and PA sports apps that can offer betting alongside their event.

And there’s no doubt that esports tournaments and leagues will expand significantly in the years ahead.

The future of esports is bright.

And the future is now.

Nevada is poised to take a prominent role in esports betting

According to an article by CDC Gaming Reports, the Nevada Gaming Control Board appointed a seven-member committee last month that will provide recommendations to expand and streamline esports wagering. At present, Nevada casinos must get approval from the Gaming Control Board to accept wagers on any esports tournament.

That process has significantly stunted the growth of esports betting in one of gambling’s most fertile environments. However, the new committee has plans to make Las Vegas a prime destination for esports tournaments and more.

“I know how amazing esports are and they’re outpacing every traditional sport,” Paul Hamilton, a Las Vegas resident, who was appointed to the esports Committee, said in the CDC article. “What I would like to see happen is that when people want to place a wager, they can go into (any sportsbook). On one side are the NFL lines and the other is the Overwatch League. I think over the next five years, you’re going to see a lot of people feeling comfortable in the growth in that space. In 10 years, I can see them side by side without any question at all. It’s already happening, but we’re just going to open the gates and make sure it’s done right.”

The NBA is a leader in esports

Some of America’s professional sports leagues are also investing in esports. At present, the NBA seems to have taken the largest leap in embracing them.

In January, the Esports Entertainment Group renewed its partnership with NBA 2K game publisher Take-Two for the NBA 2K League.

According to its website, the NBA 2K League, which first began in May of 2018, is a professional esports league featuring the best NBA 2K players in the world. It is also the first official esports league operated by a U.S. professional sports league.

The 2K League started with 17 teams. Since then, it has expanded to 24, most of which are affiliated with an NBA franchise. (The only exceptions are the Gen G. Tigers in Shanghai, China, and DUX Gaming, a Spanish organization).

To date, the 2K League Champions have been affiliated with:

  • New York Knicks (2018)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (2019)
  • Washington Wizards (2020, 2021)

Much like the real NBA, the 2K league also holds tryouts and drafts to recruit new talent. This season, Wizards District Gaming (22-6) and T-Wolves Gaming (21-7) lead their respective conferences. The Philadelphia 76ers GC sits in fifth in the Eastern Conference at 16-12.

Featured image credit: Thibault Camus – AP