Nevada Gaming Control Board Approves Clustered eSports Betting

Multiple Event eSports Bets

Esports tournaments are streamed live on Twitch.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board is considering ways to expand eSports betting in the state, according to the NGCB’s Chief of Enforcement, Karl Bennison. The board is considering a policy change which would allow sportsbooks to offer wagers on a year’s worth of eSports events.

Karl Bennison made his remarks Thursday at a combined gambling and eSports conference held at the WestGate Hotel and Sportsbook, formerly known as the Las Vegas Hilton. If the Nevada Gaming Control Board changes its policies, it should lead to an expansion of sports betting on eSports.

The decision comes 8 months after Las Vegas newspapers reported that the eSports community was uniting to increase their ability to lobby state legislatures, while presenting a common front on the public relations front.

With the growing popularity of electronic sports, many felt it is time for the hobby and spectator sport to gain its proper recognition — and proper legalization as a gaming industry on a par with the traditional sports pasttimes.

Esports Betting One Event at a Time

Presently, Las Vegas sportsbooks offer wagers only on one eSports event at a time. Under the proposed new rule change, sportsbooks could ask for permission to offer wagers on a series of eSports events — sometimes even a year’s worth of events — if those tournaments were organized by the same group.

If passed, the new Las Vegas eSports betting system might lead to consolidation inside the electronic sports industry, because the business of eSports betting would profit from consolidation. Nevada gaming officials, along with eSports organizers, believe increased betting would drive interest in electronic sports.

Casino Esports Conference

During the Casino Esports Conference at the Westgate, Bennison said the new policies were designed to help operators and event organizers handle less paperwork. Bennison said, “To streamline the process, we are looking at approving a whole series of events if they are offered by a particular company. As long as we are comfortable with that company, the licensee won’t have to apply for each event separately — they can apply for them all at same time.”

The control board member did not mention a time table for the policy changes. Since changing a policy requires a vote of a small panel instead of a general assembly, the changes should be in the near future.

Nevada Constitution Clause 22.120

Esports is regulated in Nevada by clause 22.120 in the gambling regulations. That clause covers all forms of sports wagering described as “events other than a horse race, greyhound race or [an] athletic event”.

Nevada regulators want to facilitate eSports wagering, because organized video game competitions are popular with the youngest generation of potential gamblers. Millennial-age bettors do not enjoy slot machines or table games in the same percentages that Baby Boomers or even Generation X gamblers do. Since many do not enjoy horse racing or traditional sports betting, eSports is a good way for bookmakers to tap into the millennial sports gamblers’ favorite types of gaming.

What Are Electronic Sports?

In the past few years, eSports has become a spectator sport. Professional players compete for prize money and sign endorsement deals. Esports tournaments are broadcast and streamed live throughout the world. Live streams on Twitch are popular enough that events have their own play-by-play broadcast teams, as well as studio shows similar to what is found in traditional American sports.

Gambling on eSports is illegal in most other US states, but Nevada and New Jersey have embraced the new form of gaming. Millennials prefer to watch competitions involving games they enjoy, such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), League of Legends, and DoTA.

Karl Bennison Calls for Multiple eSports Wagers

Previously, organizers needed to apply for a license each time an eSports tournament was held. Bennison said he was part of a group discussing the intersection between gambling and eSports, when one of the other discussion members suggested that it would help if permission could be given collectively for several events hosted by one trusted organizer.

Karl Bennison took that suggestion to his fellow members on the Nevada Gaming Control Board. They liked the idea, so it appears they are ready to adopt the suggestion. Such is one of the reasons for holding such conferences, so ways to improve the industry can be discussed.