Esports, also known as electronic sports, is a form of competition using video games. The world of esports has become a billion-dollar market globally. The concept of playing video games as a career, like the NBA or NFL has quickly become normal over the past decade or so. Many countries have turned the tournaments into entertainment products while also turning a profit. The question now, with how profitable esports has shown itself to be in other countries, is why the sport is still not yet legal to wager on throughout the United States?
Betting on Esports in the US
As of this writing, there are only twelve states in the United States that have made betting on esports legal in one way or another. In simpler forms, this means that less than 25% of the biggest economy in the world is able to make a wager which has a future value of $20.73 billion in the year 2027. The world of esports only continues to grow, as it’s valued at $12.67 billion in 2020. However, more states are starting to see the economic benefits of the expanded legalization of sports betting. Beyond the United States, however, there are other countries that have taken advantage of legalized betting on esports, which you will see below.
Beyond The United States
The UK did not hold back when the initial thought of what gaming categories should be included for their sports betting. The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) is known by many as a top gaming regulator in the world and was quick to allow esports wagers to be involved with the same regulatory levels as normal sports betting. Because of this decision, most of the big names for sportsbooks in the UK, such as Williams Hill, Bet365, and 888sport, have their normal sportsbooks, including Esports betting markets.
Additionally, in Europe, other countries have legalized and regulated the act of wagering on sports. Some of these countries include Spain, Italy, Malta, and Denmark. With these regulations, residents in these countries are able to not only bet on sports legally but can also make wagers on Esports.
Across the pond, Canada has still not got with the times and legalized wagering on esports through their betting infrastructure. However, Canada does not make it illegal for their citizens to wager on esports on sites that are not in Canada, like an American or European site. The only caveat is that the site must be regulated. The same regulations can also be found in India.
The Hold Up In America
The National Basketball Association (NBA), National League Football (NFL), and Major League Baseball (MLB) are three of the richest leagues in all of the sports world. Each one of these sports has been legalized in terms of sports betting for a very long time. Currently, there are over 30 states in America that offer regulated sports betting with these leagues.
The issue for the delay in esports may lie in how new esports is to the sports betting world. It was only in 2017 that Esports wagering was legalized and only the state of Nevada took advantage of its legality by including the gaming category for sports betting. It took sportsbooks just over three years to make a significant change in the market. By March of 2020, the top sportsbooks were allowing betting for Esports. Additionally, regulators in Nevada approved wagering on 13 different Esport leagues and tournaments that same year. By 2021, New Jersey, Arizona, Louisiana, Nebraska, Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland, Wyoming, and Washington have all legalized Esports betting. These additions point to a huge change in the market.