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eSports Could be Big in Vegas Sportsbooks

By the end of 2016, bettors may be able to wager on the results of eSports if backers get their way and the Nevada Gaming Commission declares them legal. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has scheduled a hearing to discuss the topic in more detail this August after it was introduced to his Gaming Policy Committee last Friday.  

eSports are defined as competitive video gaming, an industry that could soon top $1 billion, according to Electronic Sports League CEO Craig Levine. The games are typically played by those in their early 20’s, with many entering leagues in their teens. Even though those under 21 years old are banned from Nevada casinos and sportsbooks, eSports players may be viewed like college athletes or other amateurs who fall below the age restriction but still participate in events that the public can bet on.  

The Downtown Grand Las Vegas has positioned itself for eSports by hosting events and might be one of the main drivers offering betting on them if deemed legal. The Downtown Grand opened its own eSports lounge where gamers can meet and play, and they obviously hope other casinos will follow suit and offer similar amenities.

The biggest challenge for Nevada oddsmakers is following eSports close enough to set lines on them. Station Casinos Vice President of Race and Sports Operations Art Manteris was present for the Gaming Policy Committee meeting and noted that the current gaming laws may not prevent them from being wagered upon if they qualify as non-sports events under the requirements in Regulation 22.120. There is also the possibility that they could be considered athletic events and meet existing sports betting regulations. Whatever the case ends up being eventually, Manteris said the fact that Vegas sportsbooks have successfully made MMA odds makes him confident that they could handle setting lines on eSports too as long as they have the right resources.

In addition, if betting on eSports does becomes legal in Nevada, it might help settle the Daily Fantasy Sports debate once and for all. Like eSports, DFS leagues are essentially virtual skill-based events that are very similar in nature because the players are not physically participating but rather trying to win games online based on their knowledge and experience. Leading DFS companies DraftKings and FanDuel continue to argue their games are purely skill-based and do not want to be considered sports gambling in hopes of remaining legal in several states throughout the country. But the irony there is that legalizing betting on eSports could open the door for DFS to be legalized as well.  

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