New Jersey’s Esports Betting Bill Explained

New Jersey and its legislators are fully aware that the task to get eSports betting legalized in the Garden State will not be an easy one. However, if the past has taught us anything about New Jersey’s lawmakers, it’s clear they are focused and keep their eyes on the prize when it comes to innovation and getting different types of gaming legalized for its residents and visitors.

New Jersey Bill A637 introduced (prior to the global pandemic lockdown and debate on it is currently postponed until the virus is overcome) by New Jersey Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling embraces eSports much in the same way regular sports betting was embraced by the state’s legislators. Houghtaling has recognized the need for “legislatures to make the seamless shift from traditional sports betting to esports betting”, and his fellow Assemblyman and eSports wagering proponent Ralph Caputo added;

I would say eSports are the ‘next big thing’ when it comes to sporting events, but the fact of the matter is that video game tournaments are already a prominent form of skill-based competition.”

What A Sport Is – Redefined New Jersey By A637

Dennis Drazin, Sports Betting Hall of Fame member and Chief Executive Officer of Monmouth Park racecourse in the Garden State, explained a little further how new bill A637 alters the way that sports wagering is currently seen in New Jersey;

Under the existing law, the term sports event includes a wide variety of events, this bill expands the list of sporting events to include skilled based attractions, including award competitions and competitive eating contests,” said Drazin.

However, there will be safeguards and market protections put in place, just like those currently built in to legal sports wagering in New Jersey. In most ways, when its introduced, A637 ensures that eSports will be just like other forms of sports wagering in the Garden State. The State’s residents and visitors will have access to permanent eSports wagering, and just like wagering on traditional sports, there will be a few restrictions on eSports betting under A637.

Firstly, bettors will not be able to place bets on eSports events involving high schools. In its purest form, A637 implies that wagering will not be available on any events where contestants below the age of 18 are involved.

Similarly, eSports betting will not be permitted on any games or matches involving teams from New Jersey colleges and universities. These are quite standard requirements for Garden State’s sports bettors and most anticipated eSports bettors and fans in New Jersey should not experience any difficulties in adopting them.

Wagering to Make Esports a Fairer Sport

eSports tournament organizers have spent a lot of time and money working with the eSports developers to create data sharing/anti-cheat software, and thereby make the games themselves more transparent and less likely to become corrupted by match-fixing.

Betting on eSports is also likely to make eSports players themselves ‘cleaner’ to set themselves apart from their opponents and sell their personal brands as uncorruptible. After all, betting companies are likely to be funding big eSports tournaments in the future and players will not want to quite literally ‘bite the hand that feeds’

Khaled Samirah, a Research Analyst at Euromonitor International, a leading market research firm, believes that the anti-corruption will start with the players themselves;

“Players are reporting cheaters to the game developers because their livelihoods are at stake. Players don’t want to get banned from a game, so they view data sharing as a way to protect themselves as well.”

In cooperation with New Jersey legislators, the eSports industry is seeking to make the sports betting industry a better one, and it will be fascinating to see how it plays out when the legislature reconvenes.

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