Esports Betting In New Jersey: Legal Or Not?

Corey Goldberg Updated on February 19, 2021
Esports New Jersey

Every year the esports industry doles out tens of millions of dollars in prizes to the winners of prestigious tournaments.

Hundreds of millions of players from around the world tune in and watch as their favorite video gamers compete in sold out arenas to see who will be the champion of such games as League of Legends, Defense of the Ancients 2 or StarCraft.

According to research firm NewZoo, by 2019 the esports industry will be generating more than a billion dollars in revenue. Many large media companies such as ESPN — who are looking for new growth areas and subscribers — are turning to esports.

Esports New Jersey

Place your esports bets in US

For the first time in Nevada history, bookmaker William Hill has been licensed to take bets on esports competitions.

Online platforms have been participating in gambling on skins and fantasy esports for some time now.

But the Nevada Gaming Control Board recently approved of William Hill and the Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino accepting wagers on a League Of Legends event. That marks the first legal traditional sports betting on the rapidly growing esports industry in the US.

Is esports betting legal in New Jersey?

Regulations in New Jersey already stipulate that it is lawful for casinos to run skill-based game tournaments where players pay an entry fee and win prizes. Things become more muddled when one considers spectators participating in sportsbook-style wagering on these events.

Chuck Kimmel, a New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement attorney, has emphasized that the state doesn’t believe the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) intended to prohibit betting on esports, according to Esports Betting Report. New Jersey contends that betting on competitive video games is not in violation of that federal law.

PASPA states that it is unlawful for a person to “sponsor, operate, advertise, or promote, a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based, directly or indirectly, on one or more competitive games in which amateur or professional athletes participate.”

Incidentally, there is much debate over whether:

  • Esports constitute actual sporting events;
  • or if the definition of “athlete” extends to professional video gamers.

It is worth noting, nevertheless, that in 2013, the federal government began recognizing esports players as professional athletes. The US grants them visas to enter the country under that identifier.

Because sports betting was already legal in Nevada, the path to legal wagering on esports there was much more clear cut.

A look to the future on esports

New Jersey has been fighting PASPA for some time in attempt to offer sports betting within its borders. The state contends that that federal law is unconstitutional because it selectively prevents states from accepting sports bets.

Regardless of arguments in support or opposition of legalized sports betting, it’s unclear how and if PASPA affects wagering on competitive video games.

Esports continue to rise in popularity. It appears that it is only a matter of time before wagering on competitive video gaming becomes an industry standard. But without specific laws geared towards this popular new industry, it is difficult to determine the legality of such wagers.

Roman Kosolapov / Shutterstock.com

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