Esports Betting Legalization Bill Passes NJ Lower House

New Jersey has taken another important step to introducing legal online eSports betting for its residents and many betting visitors with the state’s eSports betting legalization bill passing the Garden State’s Lower House.

The bill co-sponsored by more than five Assemblyman has successfully passed the NJ Assembly and is next headed to the senate for final voting. The purpose of the bill is to extend what is covered under existing betting laws in the Garden State. Since June 2018, New Jersey residents have been permitted to bet on an extensive number of sports events. This bill however, exists to redefine what is permissible including other skill-based competitions like eSports.

In fact, including electronic sports in the regular sports betting industry makes a lot of sense, both for New Jersey and other states of the Union. There is a lot of similarity between many eSports and the so-called ‘real’ sports, and the artificial separation between the two has been slowing down industry growth and state revenue collection to pay for health, education, welfare and infrastructure programs.

The bill is not the first step that New Jersey has ventured into whilst considering legalizing eSports wagering. In November 2019, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) permitted sportsbooks to accept bets on the League of Legends World Championships in so long as the competitors in the championships were at least 18 years of age.

The essence of the legislation to make eSports betting legal lies in redefining what is considered a sport and making the rules of eSports betting more transparent.

The eSports Bill considered a ‘Pandemic Buster’

While professional sports have recently rebooted after a 4 months absence, whether they will be able to continue or not in the fall and early winter is debatable.

Safe passage of the eSports betting bill into law sooner rather than later could really assist to ‘future proof’ the New Jersey sports wagering industry from any further potential pandemic-enforced sports shutdowns.

One of the bills co-sponsors, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling explained the situation upon the unanimous passage of bill;

“Whether they follow along online or in person, hundreds of millions of people watch eSports each year – and that number is only growing. This bill will amend our existing sports betting law to include eSports and ultimately expand on the industry to make it more successful,” Assemblyman Houghtaling asserted.

“With online sports betting now legal in New Jersey, a large number of people already interested in this type of gaming and a lack of physical sporting events to bet on right now due to the pandemic, the time is right for us to expand legal wagering beyond traditional sports.” Houghtaling concluded.

The major part of debate around the topic of eSports betting involves the age of participants and college and high school eSports.

NJ’s College Sports Betting Law

Its widely expected that any eSports legalization in the State of New Jersey will cover off on college and high school sports much in the same way as it applies to traditional sports like college football and college basketball.

Prospective eSports bettors in New Jersey will not be permitted wagering on any games or matches involving teams from New Jersey colleges and universities, nor any eSports between colleges that take place within New Jersey’s state lines.

Nor will eSports betting enthusiasts be able to place bets on eSports events involving high schools, as eSports wagering will not be allowed on any events where contestants below the age of 18 are involved.

Both provisos are already standard requirements for NJ’s bettors and as such, eSports betting fans in New Jersey should adapt easily.

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