Legal esports betting is officially up and running in New Jersey.
VIE.gg, an esports betting platform, recently completed its five-day “soft play” period. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) liked what it saw with VIE.gg’s operations, which resulted in the state gaming regulator signing off on a full launch.
Esports — short for electronic sports — involves competitive video gaming. Gamers typically compete in teams in tournaments that attract many viewers and betting action. Marquee events include “League of Legends,” “Dota,” and “Counter-Strike.”
VIE.gg is owned and operated by Esports Entertainment Group. The esports firm is based in London but has an office in Hoboken, New Jersey. Esports Entertainment is the first esports betting platform to be licensed in New Jersey to accept legal wagers on video game tournaments.
We couldn’t be more pleased to be the first esports-dedicated operator to be granted the right to commence business in New Jersey,” said Grant Johnson, Esports Entertainment Group CEO. “We are thrilled to be playing such an important role in this fast-growing market with the launch of our first esports wagering offering in the United States.”
Esports Entertainment is partnered with Bally’s Atlantic City to operate an iGaming platform. New Jersey law requires each online gaming operator to be tethered to one of the nine Atlantic City casinos.
The New Jersey DGE had previously allowed licensed sportsbooks to accept wagers on esports events on a case-by-case basis. Sportsbooks had to petition the gaming agency for betting approval for tournaments like “The International.”
Esports Entertainment will not have to seek such approval for most major tournaments. Instead, the firm will have the freedom to open up markets on an array of esports events, so long as the game titles are included in the DGE’s approved list of games.
The DGE didn’t report many requests from New Jersey sportsbooks requesting esports approvals. But Esports Entertainment maintains that betting on competitive video gaming is a booming industry.
Speaking with the Associated Press, Johnson referenced an esports market research report from Newzoo that projects esports will generate $1.6 billion in revenue globally by 2024. The industry reported 2021 revenue of just slightly north of $1 billion.
As for esports wagering, Johnson believes global betting will top $200 billion annually by 2027. For comparison, the US gaming industry reported taking $52.7 billion in legal sports bets last year.
Johnson expects his firm to generate up to $2 million in gross esports betting revenue this year. The esports executive says the gaming vertical is additionally attractive because its core demo is the 18- to 35-year-old.
Casinos have for the past decade been investing heavily to develop new gaming formats that attract younger people to their floors, as slot machines are losing favor among millennials.
Atlantic City casinos seem open to testing the esports waters. Along with Bally’s partnering with Esports Entertainment Group for its online business, Hard Rock Atlantic City last month hosted the esports betting firm’s two-day Madden NFL video game tournament.
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