While Nevada’s lawmakers recently okayed legal eSports betting in the Silver State, online sportsbooks in the Keystone State of Pennsylvania are not yet able to offer eSports as part of their sports library for their clientele. But why not?
Betting legislated only on ‘sporting events’ in Pennsylvania
With few live sports on at the moment, now if ever, seems like it should be the ideal time to legalize eSports for the Keystone State’s bettors who are looking for another form of live betting other than the options of Czech, Ukrainian and Russian table tennis. However, according to the sharp and direct following words supremo of the Pennsylvania eSports Coalition, Bill Thomas, on the prospects for making legal changes to legalize eSports betting in the Keystone State
“I don’t believe that is on their agenda in the near future.”
Some of the state of Pennsylvania’s road blocks to eSports betting include the following;
- A generation gap hampers eSports betting legalization in PA. The industry in Pennsylvania is unfamiliar to the state’s lawmakers and regulators, despite its enormous popularity.
- Pennsylvanian State Law allows for sports betting only.
- Those same PA laws do not supply a single overarching definition of what is or isn’t a sport. The state law and the passed legislation from October 2017, HB 271, defined sports betting to permit betting on “sports events or on the individual performance statistics of athletes in a sporting event or combination of sporting events.”
- Clearly, some eSports might qualify, however, some others, definitely not. One industry source recently said when speaking of the latest betting craze in Nevada and New Jersey, NASCAR iRacing; “You could argue that it is a sport. There is the argument that it’s using reflexes and that makes it a sport. Some people would say it’s a lot like [regular] NASCAR.” he said. Obviously, Pennsylvania’s State Legislators clearly still disagree at this stage.
- Pennsylvania and a further 12 jurisdictions have nebulous eSports gaming laws. Many of the laws of those 12 jurisdictions neither expressly allow nor explicitly ban wagering on esports. It could not be murkier.
- For example, Tennessee, Colorado and West Virginia permit eSports wagers under their respective laws but are yet to offer them.
- Another, in form of the state of Indiana has banned wagering on eSports outright.
- Policing the fairness and transparency of eSports is a challenging matter in itself, and match fixing could be a real concern until the tracking technology of eSports catches up with the sport itself.
eSports hopeful for PA sports betting status soon
Current events may sway the PA state lawmakers to reconsider their definition of what might be considered a sport sooner than they might have otherwise. If the NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA are unable to restart their leagues again soon, expect the decision to come sooner rather than later. However, expect it come with a few credibility provisions as Bill Thomas again explained recently;
“What I can say is that once the gaming control board in PA is comfortable with offering esports wagering within the state’s legal sports betting environment, I am sure they will move forward. Casinos also need to incorporate esports wagering into their sports betting offerings, which has been slow to progress across the country. The most important thing is to ensure credibility, and to ensure the regulators are comfortable with how esports wagering would be conducted in PA.”
Whether Pennsylvania’s lawmakers like it or not, eSports betting in the United States is here to stay for the long term, and they have more to gain than lose by legalizing eSports betting.
The sound decision would be to get on board before even more critical state sports betting revenue finds its way across the border to neighboring New Jersey.