In New Jersey, sports wagering has been a big success since it was legalized back in 2018. Now lawmakers in the state are looking to expand the industry by lifting the restrictions on esports betting.
Bill A 637 was approved unanimously by the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee, which consists of seven members. Now it will be sent to the Assembly speaker for evaluation.
Esports have enjoyed significant growth in the last few years. The tournaments for popular game titles such as League of Legends, NBA 2K, Fortnite and Dota 2 are huge these days. For example, the Overwatch League has a total prize pool to the tune of $5 million and the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series has a prize pool of $300,000.
Esports viewership figures are trending upward. It began with the online streaming website of Twitch, and now there are several others where people can tune in and watch video game experts play popular games. Esports streaming is now a billion-dollar business, which is why the Luxor Casino in Las Vegas constructed a stadium specifically for professional gaming events.
New Jersey assemblymen Ralph Caputo and Eric Houghtaling sponsored A 637. They see esports as a skill-based pursuit that people should be able to wager on.
The main focus is to expand the sports wagering laws that are already in place. Esports could just be another section in a New Jersey sportsbook. There are already some books in the United States that offer betting on esports on a limited basis.
In 2019, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement temporarily lifted the ban on esports betting to allow limited wagering on the League of Legends World Championship finals. It remains to be seen what, if any, restrictions will be in place if New Jersey legalizes esports gambling.
There are now 17 online and mobile betting brands operating in New Jersey. All of those options will probably add esports wagering if the state lawmakers sign off on it.
The next move is to find out what the speaker says about the issue. However, with the recent approval of A 637, it looks as if esports betting will be coming to the Garden State sooner rather than later.