A new bill has been signed into Nevada law by Governor Brian Sandoval that allows for wagers on eSports events. While not the first effort to bring eSports into the brick-and-mortar sportsbook fold, this is the first bill to be formally accepted and passed. Its effectual date is set for July 1, 2017.
Senate Bill 240, referred to as the “eSports betting bill”, expands the current Nevada gambling law to incorporate “other events” into its existing pari-mutuel betting activities, sports betting and horse/dog races. Competitive gaming falls under the vague umbrella category of “other events”. SB240 was debated in late March with the goal of ensuring the local gaming market would not be directly influenced by the introduction of eSports betting. The bill was backed by Senator Becky Harris.
Before SB240, Nevada gambling regulators permitted eSports betting and residents of big NV destinations like Las Vegas and Reno were able to place wagers through sportsbooks. However, eSports betting was technically not legal under state law. This bill grants the Nevada Gaming Commission the power to issue licenses permitting pari-mutuel betting and also the power to review all records of the eSports betting licensees.
eSports have become widely popular in recent years. The industry eventually drew enough clout to warrant the attention of bettors. The Downtown Grand received permission last year to take eSports bets, showcasing the state’s awareness of the growing market. SB240 is the first real instance of the state embracing the eSports community wholeheartedly and amending it into its legal gambling framework.
As mentioned earlier, there were previous options for eSports betting. These options include betting on eSports through legitimate online sportsbooks. Residents looking to begin placing wagers on eSports events can begin doing so through these legal sites. Betting lines will not be offered in the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks until sometime in July. The bill may go into effect on the first day of the month, but the bureaucratic process of granting licenses and establishing regulatory standards will take some time.
This decision is a pivotal one given the current sports betting climate online and offline. Nevada is only one of four states grandfathered in under the federal ban on sports betting known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Despite the state’s status as a legal provider of single-game betting, eSports has been neglected by the Nevada gambling community. This is not surprising given that the eSports is relatively new, though it was only a matter of time before Nevada lawmakers decided to tap into this growing source of revenue.
Governor Sandoval and the Nevada Gaming Commission’s goal is turn their state into the premier eSports destination for both fans and bettors alike. There are tournaments hosted throughout the year and soon enough there will be brick-and-mortar betting options to go along with them. The state needed to establish and implement a regulatory framework before this could happen and that is exactly what SB240 accomplishes.
You can read the actual language of the legislation here: SB240