A proposal to expand esports wagering is set to get the go-ahead from Nevada regulators and be implemented in early 2023.
The Gaming Control Board Wednesday unanimously voted to recommend the Nevada Gaming Commission approve the new rules drawn up by the Nevada Esports Technical Advisory Committee.
Backers have been pushing for the changes to help make Nevada the leading state for esports wagering. Unlike much of sports betting, casinos have had to seek approval every time they wanted to take wagers on esports events, a step that made it difficult to plan and promote betting lines, thus stifling the esports market.
Gaming Control Board Chair Brittnie Watkins said the regulations “have been a long time coming” and thanked all of those who worked on them to help the industry thrive, while protecting its integrity.
“Nevada has taken the lead on this and I’m proud of us for doing so as it relates to developing the regulatory framework,” Watkins said. “It’s not the easiest work.”
Gaming Control Board member Phil Katsaros echoed those comments and the importance of what’s been done.
“I like our approach of putting our best foot forward and allowing the market to attempt to build up and see where it can go and not to constrain it so much from the onset and kill it out of the gate,” Katsaros said. “What we’re doing here is enacting some responsible and sensible regulations. Imagine what Nevada would have looked like if we’d never availed ourselves of sports betting years ago and only in 2018. We would have been flat-footed in a state with 40-plus-million visitors a year. We have 3.2 million people, so we wouldn’t have been at the top of the queue from a sports betting perspective. We would have been there because Nevada is Nevada, but we would have lost all those years of experience as well. I like that we’re not being flat-footed here and I’m happy to move forward and recommend support of this draft.”
Regulations spell out the process for sportsbooks to follow in accepting esports wagers. They’re required to notify the Gaming Control Board on a quarterly basis of the operators for events on which they accepts wagers. Like sports betting, casinos are required to report suspicious transactions; prohibit coaches, participants, and officials from placing wagers; and monitor match fixing, according to Nevada Senior Deputy Attorney General John Michela.
Katsaros said the regulations are a good balance of protections and allowing the product to thrive. He said the new framework needs to be monitored to determine what guardrails to incorporate in the future, including dealing with the age of the participants and addressing responsible gaming, since the sport attracts a younger audience.
“I don’t want to put a stranglehold on a product like this that’s nascent at this point and I don’t know what type of volume we can expect,” Katsaros said. “I know some people are saying it’s going to be the best thing since sliced bread and others say it’s not. I’m kind of in the middle and will wait and see. I’d like the market to play out — as long as we have some reasonable safeguards.”