The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) is looking forward to expanding the state’s fast-growing sports betting industry to the $1 billion video tournament market. On Thursday, DGE cleared the way for the state’s sportsbook operators to begin taking wagers on Esports competitions on what gambling companies hope will be a significant new source of revenue from young people who are not enamored of traditional casino games but spend hours on end playing and watching video games.
A report by Goldman Sachs indicated that by 2022, Esports viewership in the US would exceed all the major traditional athletic leagues except the NFL. According to Casino.org, a similar report by Global X, a provider of exchange traded funds (ETFs) stated that Esports was another avenue for video game growth, as two million people streamed the finals of the Fortnite World Cup. Statistics from the report indicated that the Esports audience was expected to reach 443 million viewers in 2019, up by 12% from 395 million in 2018 globally.
The first Esports wager in the Garden State was placed at MGM Resorts International’s Borgata in Atlantic City, with the bettor putting down $100 on Team G2 to take home the crown in the League of Legends world championship, being held this weekend in Paris.
Esports is already well-established in the United States and growing rapidly. In 2018, the NBA unveiled the NBA 2K League, becoming the first of the domestic professional athletic associations to have an Esports affiliate. For casino companies, competitive gaming is an avenue to reach younger generations such as millennials, the demographics operators have struggled to connect with.
This year, the broader video game industry is expected to generate sales of $150 billion, with competitive gaming accounting for just a fraction of that at $1.1 billion. However, some market observers see betting as an under-appreciated element in Esports’ success. New Jersey gambling regulators said that they thoroughly investigated the reliability of the tournament before approving bets on it.