Esports Entertainment Group hopes to be offering legal betting on competitive video games by the end of 2021.
The NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement notified EEG’s parent company just before Memorial Day weekend that its application to be a licensed gambling operator in the Garden State had been accepted, according to a news release.
EEG can now submit its software to the DGE testing lab and apply for a transactional waiver.
EEG expects to complete this process and to be taking bets in NJ by summer or fall.
Grant Johnson, CEO of EEG, called it “ a major step,” for the company’s US growth strategy.
“Securing access to what is currently the largest market for sports betting in the US is very exciting,” he said.
EEG bullish on NJ’s appetite for esports betting
EEG, a Malta-based gaming operator, is eying a piece of NJ’s iGaming and sports betting action.
As the company’s name suggests, EEG is also looking to be among the forerunners of esports betting in NJ.
Esports gambling is legal in NJ, but only on a case-by-case basis. State lawmakers are in the process of passing legislation that would permanently allow sports betting operators in NJ to offer electronic sports wagering. The General Assembly already passed the bill and it is now awaiting a vote in the Senate.
“According to a study from data firm Interpret, over 50% of U.S. esports fans said they are likely to engage in esports betting so we are confident that demand will be strong,” said Johnson.
Video games and casino are at a ‘crossroads’
Esports, or competitive video gaming, appeals to a younger audience. Needless to say, gambling companies are always on the lookout for new customers.
“We’re at a crossroads of esports and the gambling world,” said Ari Fox, producer of Gamacon & Casino Esports Conference, during a 2019 gambling convention in Atlantic City.
To drive home the point, Fox added:
“These two industries (casino gaming and esports) have to collide because the casino industry is beginning to lose the generation that plays table games.”
EEG and Bally’s Corp., the parent company of Bally’s Atlantic City, entered into a multi-year agreement in 2020.
‘Next big thing’ is at NJ’s doorstep
Proponents of electronic sports wagering point to its growing popularity.
“I would say esports are the ‘next big thing’ when it comes to sporting events,” said NJ Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, “but the fact of the matter is that video game tournaments are already a prominent form of skill-based competition.
Caputo is a sponsor of the esports betting bill and a former Atlantic City casino executive. The “time is right for New Jersey to expand legal wagering beyond traditional sports,” he said.
NJDGE Director David Rebuck weighed in last summer, too, saying:
“… Allowing betting on esports not only provides more variety for sports wagering enthusiasts but also makes New Jersey more attractive to the innovative companies that drive this growing industry.”