Esports, which is short for electronic sports, is just like any other sport where players (either as individuals or a group of individuals) compete against each other. However, the competition takes place over video games instead of on a field or pitch. In the last decade, esports has become part of the overall video game culture, with game developers running their own tournaments and events. This popularity boost has put esports into the limelight and, with that, in the eye of the sports betting community. Now, fans of esports and sports alike want to know where they can bet on their favorite players and teams.
The Beginning Of Esports Betting
The history of esports betting is a fascinating one, flush with legal controversy and state-by-state regulations. Originally, esports betting was illegal under the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992. This act only allowed 5 states to allow sports betting. It wasn’t until 2017 when Nevada legalized esports betting, becoming the first state to do so. In 2018, PASPA was ruled unconstitutional, creating an opening for more states to start allowing esports gambling.
When New Jersey legalized sports betting in 2018, esports betting was restricted to only international events as most players were 18 years or older. By the end of 2019, all esports competitions were legal to wager on in New Jersey, even in the United States.
Esports Legality In the United States
There are currently 12 states in the United States where esports betting is legal in some form or another. Interestingly enough, many of the states listed do not specifically mention esports betting contests or tournaments by name. This could be because the legislators who came up with the sports betting legislation did not know that this industry existed. There are many competitions that would be unknown to legislators that sports bettors would be interested in betting on, like the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating competition. However, some states have been more specific in their legislation, specifically calling esports gambling out by name in the framework of the bills. One state, specifically Indiana, has completely banned wagering on esports.
Below is the list of the states where esports betting is legal and what the legislation for their legal status looks like:
|Arizona||“Sports event” is used as a broad term to describe a large range of activities, one of which is esports.|
|Colorado||The term “sports event” was used as a blanket term to cover many activities. The only athletic events you can’t wager on are: a high school sporting event, a video game that is not sanctioned by a sports governing body, and prop bets for a college sports event.|
|Connecticut||The bill states esports by name and that gambling on them is legal.|
|Louisiana||Uses the term “sports event,” which, in the bill, covers “any competitive video game or other electronic sports event.”|
|Maryland||Quoted in the bill as saying, “An electronic sports or video game competition in which each participant is at least 18 years old;” is legal|
|Nevada||The first state to legalize esports betting; all events, and activities that are wagered on must be approved by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, which has allowed esports.|
|Nebraska||While sports betting hasn’t launched yet, the bill specifically calls out esports betting.|
|New Jersey||Uses the term “sports event” to include all “professional electronic sports and competitive video game events” that are not affiliated with high schools or those younger than 18.|
|Tennessee||Named esports by name, either “in-person or via remote connection.”|
|Virginia||Esports are included under “sport events” but were not originally included in first drafts of the bill.|
|Washington||The bill stated that it is legal to wager on “an electronic sports or esports competition or event.”|
|Wyoming||Wyoming’s sports betting bill spared no expense of spelling out what’s legal in their state and what is illegal. Esports was named specifically in the bill as being legal.|
The Future Of Esports Betting In The United States
While there is a fair amount of pushback in America, esports only seems to be growing at a fast pace. While the esports betting market was mostly found in offshore sports betting sites, the industry is finding better growth and success in legal and regulated markets throughout the United States. With more states set to have legal sports betting altogether, it’s only a matter of time until we start seeing more states picking up esports betting for their residents.