New Jersey Allows Esports Betting in Time for League of Legends Final
In a one-off move, the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) for the state of New Jersey allowed betting on the League of Legends World Championship final this past weekend.
Sportsbooks were able to take wagers on the $1 million dollar final in what stands as a major milestone for esports betting. New Jersey first legalized sports betting in June 2018 but had yet to allow gambling on esports.
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Regulators were satisfied with the integrity of the League of Legends Worlds tourney
As per PlayNJ, DGE regulators “thoroughly investigated” the League of Legends tournament and were satisfied with the integrity of the competition. Betting was only permitted for the weekend, in similar steps to the opening of betting on the 2019 Oscars. However, the publication comments that Esports could “potentially become a more regular market,” depending on the DGE’s regulatory stance.
One of New Jersey’s high-profile casino’s, The Borgata, was first to take a wager from Philadelphia broadcaster Howard Eskin who put $100 on G2 Esports to win.
The Borgata was also the first Atlantic City casino to open a retail sportsbook and President Marcus Glover commented on the latest first:
“Borgata is proud to be at the forefront of this significant milestone, as we look to engage with future generations of esports fans as well as traditional sports fans.”
In Glover’s statement he added:
“We are grateful to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement for their partnership in helping advance such an innovative initiative.”
Fan interest could drive esports betting growth
FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sportsbook, and Fox Bet, also posted lines of betting for the League of Legends final in Paris. A gambling expert at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, David Schwartz, told the Associated Press the esports gambling market is small but that “there is definitely fan interest,” and:
“In the future, of course, it may become a much bigger segment, if bettors decide they want to gamble on it.”
The opening of esports betting is not the only development for New Jersey, Continent 8 has built a $5 million data center at the Atlantic City Convention Center to serve the growing esports sector as well as gambling and sports betting technologies. There have also been a number of esports tournaments held at Atlantic City casinos and local officials have committed to developing the nascent industry in the region.
China’s FunPlus Phoenix won the League of Legends World Championship, defeating G2 Esports 3-0 on Sunday. The tournament’s semi-finals had already seen record audience figures delivering further success for League of Legends developer’s and event organizers Riot Games.