Esports has taken off and became a global phenomenon, and with that came esports betting — an already lucrative market that some say will be even bigger. A new proposed law in New Jersey, however, could see an end to that. Legislators want to propose a bill that would literally make it “illegal to bet on electronic sports and competitive video games”, at least just in that state. It may be a new trend that other states may follow suit with. The bill was introduced earlier this month on June 4th. There are however some exceptions to the proposed bill which excludes International events that have 50 per cent of its participants who are over 18 years of age.
The proposed legislation states: “A prohibited sports event includes all high school sports events, electronic sports, and competitive video games but does not include international sports events in which persons under age 18 make up a minority of the participants.” This bill has been sponsored by Eric Houghtaling, Raj Mukherji, Joann Downey, John J. Burzichelli, and Ralph R. Caputo. It is literally trying to compare professional esports events to high school sports. In fact, a prominent esports lawyer Bryce Blum on Twitter said “[It’s an] obvious problem with people regulating something that they don’t understand,”
That seems to hit the nail right on the head, lawmakers who aren’t really in the know about what esports is are trying to regulate it and police it. If one state can do this then what is to stop other states and countries from following suit?
Lawmakers need to be educated before they start trying to pass regulations and bills that could seriously hurt an industry. Although esports betting is not mentioned specifically in the bill they main aim according to it was to “allow wagering at casinos and racetracks on certain professional and collegiate sports or athletic events.” It is only mentioned briefly.
A recent Supreme Court decision in May overturned what was known as PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. This proposed action was going to prohibit a lot of states from hosting gambling events within their own jurisdictions. This was thought to be a great victory for esports betting in the USA. However, if New Jersey does pass this law they will be taking themselves out of the equation. Esports has grown so big that it was only a matter of time before Federal and State legislators got wind of it and are trying to police it and make it more and more difficult. Similar to legacy sports betting, fantasy football, and so forth.
Hopefully this law does not get passed, otherwise, those who reside in New Jersey may have to go elsewhere to bet on esports and participate in those kinds of online wager pools. The Supreme Court decision in May is a definite win, but only if every state is on board with it. If it gains traction it would be truly disappointing to witness. It’s a waiting game right now on whether this is a sign of much more strict regulations to come.
Tarah Bleier is a freelance writer , editor and content creator from Toronto. As a graduate from Centennial College’s Journalism program she has written for Tribute.ca, and Factinate.com and recently for Geek Enthusiast Magazine. In her free time she loves gaming, cosplaying, prop making and attending as many conventions and geeky events as she can. Writing has always been a passion of hers and she has been a contributing writer of The Planet Observer for many years before becoming its Assistant Editor last year. Her work can also be seen on The Geekcast Radio Network where she has been a podcast host and writer.