Nevada is closing in on offering a full-blown wagering menu on esports tournaments and championships.
The state’s Esports Technical Advisory Committee announced during its second-ever meeting on Monday that it will meet again in August to formulate recommendations that it will vote on at its October meeting. Those would be forwarded to the Nevada Gaming Control Board and subsequently the Nevada Gaming Commission.
The committee is formulating regulatory proposals to ensure integrity of esports wagers on competitions.
“After our second meeting, I think we now have the information we need from the industry to make recommendations to the Gaming Control Board by Q4 of this year,” committee member Seth Schorr, CEO of Fifth Street Gaming, which manages the Downtown Grand in Las Vegas, told CDC Gaming. “A white list is created and I see us having everything we need to be taking esports wagers soon after.”
One big question is whether esports falls under state regulations that define race and sports betting; if not, a new set of regulations will be required. The issue was raised during Monday’s meeting by committee member Brett Abarbanel.
“That will be a big conversation next month and I think we will all come to the conclusion that it is and we’re off to the races,” Schorr said.
Under Regulation 22, sportsbooks can decide whether they want to accept wagers on sports, Schorr said. Some sportsbooks for example, take bets on dart leagues.
“The Gaming Control Board didn’t decide this dart league met the qualifications. It was up to the operator to decide that,” Schorr said after the meeting. “As long as esports is defined as a sport, the operator can look at that specific esports league or match and make sure it meets the qualifications as defined in Reg 22.”
Today, casinos must seek Gaming Control Board permission to take wagers on each esports tournament, but the committee will provide the board with guidance on what leagues and tournaments sportsbooks should offer wagering on without special permission. That cumbersome process has limited the growth in esports wagering.
“We know the Board is very enthusiastic and doesn’t want to waste any time,” Schorr said in an interview. “Theoretically, we can see a calendar of events for 2023 that is an in-depth white list of matches and leagues that operators can place wagers on.”
Earlier this year, New Jersey allowed Esports Entertainment Group to accept esports bets for such games as Call of Duty, League of Legends, Dota 2, and others.
The committee heard presentations Monday from several esports data providers and from Oddin.gg, a European compiler of esports odds looking to do business in Nevada.
As it did in its first meeting in March, the committee heard from Eric Bowers, vice president of innovation at Boyd Gaming, which is looking to accept esports action that include in-play wagers and pari-mutuel wagers. Bowers said they need two to three months of lead time before launching and are focusing on five or six game titles that “would get the most volume for customers.”
In response to a question from Abarbanel, Bowers said they see esports as falling under Regulation 22 from a regulation standpoint, thus it won’t require its own set of regulations.
From a marketing, branding, and launch perspective, esports “is its own animal,” he said. Boyd has a sportsbetting app for traditional sports and esports would get lost in that, so it needs a separate app launch, he added.
“Very few apps have livestream,” Bowers told the committee. “Esports is all about livestreams. Very few apps have the demographic that we are going to target with esports. There will be some crossover, but unless it’s more visible as its own animal, we don’t think it will do it justice for a launch here.”
Judging by how it’s playing in New Jersey, Bowers said if you don’t separate esports from a marketing and app perspective, it’s not going to get the visibility that it needs to be successful.
“If you look at Europe and Asia, you see a little more that it stands out on its own,” Bowers said. “If we can have the best of both worlds, that would be great. Put it under Reg 22, but maybe on a technology aspect launch it on its own.”
Schorr told his colleagues it’s great to hear from data providers from Europe and that operators such as Boyd Gaming are interested in esports wagering.
“I can’t tell you how important it is to hear from a licensed operator,” Schorr said. “You want esports. We would be wasting our time if that wasn’t the case. It’s helpful to see an operator like Boyd have a thoughtful strategy. You put a lot of time into this. It gives me great comfort that we’re here for a reason.”