New Jersey Looking at Esports as Internet Betting Option

New Jersey is trying to give esports their own place in the state’s internet gambling market.

Esports betting has been legal under New Jersey law since 2021, but only through sportsbooks. legislation (S2986) submitted last Thursday by Senator James BeachD-Cherry Hill, would add esports to the state’s definition of internet gaming while keeping it as a sports betting option.

The bill would essentially allow Atlantic City casinos to operate e-sports outside of their traditional online casino offerings, bypassing New Jersey’s limit of five online casino permits per brick-and-mortar casino.

For bettors, the ever-evolving esports market could lead to what today is all about The National Law Review names “an almost infinite number of new betting categories”.

That could mean an even bigger grip for a state looking to build on its already tremendous success $4.79 billion internet gambling industry.

NJ Esports proposal details

The proposed change comes as the New Jersey legislature ponders online gambling tweaks ahead of the expiry of the 2013 Online Casino Act, which is due to expire this fall. A September 25th Associated Press Report said New Jersey lawmakers are now in talks to extend the internet gaming law by another 10 years.

Phil Murphy, Governor of New Jersey allegedly said at a casino conference last week that he will sign off on an online casino expansion if passed by state legislatures.

Although S2986 would not expand the online casino act, it would allow New Jersey casinos to offer esports as internet games from casinos that are evolving.

For sports bettors, the bill would allow esports-only online sports pools operated by sportsbooks. Any casino or circuit with a sportsbook license would be eligible for up to two individually branded esports apps for their online pools.

How would Esports iGaming impact sports betting – if at all?

The major legal esports platforms in the US today include Twitch, YouTube Gaming, Discord and more. Legal betting is done through licensed apps. Sports betting apps DraftKings and FanDuel are among the top brands offering legal sports betting on fantasy games like League of Legends, Call of Duty, Dota and Rocket League.

Now legal sports betting apps are starting to come online. vIE – the first licensed eSports-only bet App in North America — launched this year in New Jersey through partnership with Bally’s Atlantic City.

Owned by Esports Entertainment Group (EEG), the VIE app features top fantasy games that bill themselves as “all esports, all the time”. But it’s still a mobile sports betting app.

Should esports be added to the state’s definition of Internet gaming, it remains to be seen how that would affect New Jersey’s sports betting practices. Traditional sportsbooks might see more competition in the esports arena – but they will still be able to hold their own.

According to S2986, “Nothing in this bill would prohibit a traditional sportsbook from offering esports betting, which is currently allowed.”

A change is unlikely to have a major impact on New Jersey brick and mortar casinos. Atlantic City casinos would retain control of every legal betting app in the NJ market. They may even have the opportunity to enter into new partnerships later.

What’s next for NJ’s Esports Bill?

S2986 was introduced to the Senate on September 22nd. It was referred to the Senate State Committee on Betting, Tourism and Monument Preservation.

No date has been set for the committee to act on the bill, but there is still plenty of time to act this year.

The last day of session for the New Jersey state legislature in 2022 is December 31st.

Picture by Roman Kosolapov