Nevada esports-wagering expansion moving forward

September 21, 2022 7:00 PM
Updated: September 26, 2022 11:35 AM

Nevada esports-wagering expansion moving forward

Photo: Shutterstock
  • Buck Wargo
September 21, 2022 7:00 PM
Updated: September 26, 2022 11:35 AM
  • Nevada
  • Sports Betting

Nevada’s Esports Technical Advisory Committee asked the state’s Attorney General’s office Wednesday to draw up regulations that would permit widespread esports betting on tournaments and championships starting in 2023.

The committee will meet on Oct. 24 to review and finalize the regulations and forward the package to the Nevada Gaming Control Board and eventually the Nevada Gaming Commission.

The committee is formulating regulatory proposals to ensure the integrity of esports wagers on competitions and enable sportsbooks to offer wagers without seeking special permission, as they do now.

The move would make Las Vegas a leader in esports gambling in the U.S. and potentially lead to more major events in the city.

Senior Deputy Attorney General John Michela told the committee, “The overarching intent of the proposed changes will allow licensed books to accept wagers on esports events in the manner of traditional sporting events.”

The regulations allow sportsbooks to take esports wagers outside of the current “other-event” requirements, but this is allowed only if the sportsbooks meet due-diligence requirements, Michela said. They’re required to update and maintain their records concerning that due diligence, he said.

“A book would also be required to notify the Gaming Control Board on a quarterly basis on the esports leagues on which the books accept wagers,” Michela said.

The proposed regulations allow the chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board to prohibit sportsbooks from accepting wagers on certain esports leagues. “This would allow the chair to shut down wagering on esports if an issue develops with the esports league,” Michela said.

The regulations also allow sportsbooks to request a review.

The chair can list sanctioning organizations for events that would absolve the sportsbooks would from due diligence, Michela said. However, as with traditional wagers on sporting events, sportsbooks would be required to monitor the integrity of the events on which they take wagers and follow other wagering requirements.

Committee member Jud Hannigan said the regulations “represent a strong path to the progress for our mission here.” He did, however, raise a question about the definition of esports leagues.

“Today, a significant portion of overall handle on esports wagering across the globe comes from individual events and not necessarily part of a common definition of a league structure,” Hannigan said. “That’s narrow. Do we consider broadening that to include tournament organizers as well?”

Michela said “esports league” is not defined, but it would be up to a sportsbook to investigate a league that it was comfortable with and events governed by that league could do due diligence in order to proceed under the regulation.

Committee member Che Chou said he agrees with Hannigan that when it comes to esports, the term “league” is loaded. It’s a definition of a type of format for running the competition. “Some of these will be leagues, but many more will be just tournaments or products,” Chou said. “I would prefer something that covers both the definition of tournament organizers and a definition of the actual event to give it greater clarity.”

Hannigan said “league” isn’t defined in other areas, so it doesn’t make sense to have a definition. Using the word in esports “has an implication to it” and could be limiting in nature, with no indication of the broadness of the esports environment.

Committee member Robert Forbes asked if there would be a path for a sportsbook to secure approval for wagering on one-off tournaments or events that might not be organized by a league or governing body, but meet integrity standards.

“Under the current language, it would require an esports league,” Michela said.

Hannigan said there needs to be flexibility for series and leagues, as well as one-off events. “If you look at the history of what has been approved to date, you see a healthy amount of one-offs that have been approved, but leagues have been approved too,” Hannigan said. “There needs to be some flexibility so the books don’t have to approve every match of every league, but can do events on a one-off basis.”

Committee chairman Paul Hamilton discussed adding language about tournament providers or gaming developers to “get us to where we want to go. It’s about giving operators the flexibility that they need, but giving us the comfort we’re looking for to make sure it is all done right.”

Michela said the better approach may be what committee member Hannigan suggested: a dual framework, one that’s applicable to a league or competitive circuit or series of events organized by a governing body; and a path for one-off events, which make sense for sportsbooks to accept wagers, he added.

If a sanctioning organization is placed by the board chair on a list, sportsbooks are allowed to accept any events sponsored by it.

“That is totally at the approval of the chair,” Hannigan said. “Is there a process where there are consistent organizers that books would like to work with?”

Michela said a sanctioning organization may request to be added to the list by the chair and sportsbooks could make similar requests.