Nevada Relaxes Esports Betting Regulations for Local Sportsbooks

Jeff O. - October 28, 2023
Esports logo with gaming remote

The Silver State has eased its esports betting regulations for operators, making it easier for sportsbooks to include odds for esports wagering events. Join us as we dive deeper into the new regulation and its significance in Nevada’s esports scene.

Sportsbooks operating within Nevada’s state lines will no longer be required to attain exclusive approval from the powers that be to include esports odds for each esports event. This declaration by the state’s gambling regulator, the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC), is part of a collective effort by the state to take a friendlier approach to esports betting as a whole. The regulation, formally identified as ‘2022-07R’, explicitly includes esports within other sporting activities. As such, sportsbooks will be able to accept wagers on esports in the same manner that they usually do with other sporting activities.

Commenting on the decision by the NGC,  a board member, Dr Brittnie Watkins, said in part:

“The regulations are very important to our industry. These amendments have been a long time coming, and it’s my belief they will help promote and increase the volume of wagers. They’re in line with our policy goals of promoting the success of gaming.”

The Nevada Gaming Commission unanimously adopted the declaration after the three-member agency assented to the measure. Under the previous dispensation, esports wagering could be permitted only if an operator made a request that had to be reviewed and approved by the NGC’s board chairman. 

Doping Measure Fails to Make The Cut

Initially, regulated sports wagering operators wishing to include esports events needed to file a request for inclusion with the state’s gaming regulators. As you can imagine, such a tedious process would involve lots of bureaucratic hurdles, coupled with unnecessary workloads both on the sides of the sportsbooks and that of the Nevada gaming regulator. 

That said, one of the clauses that failed to cut the list of the proposed new amendments had to do with doping. While many had called for the inclusion of a provision on doping, the NGC opted not to follow through with this idea. The specific language in question read in part:

“A book may accept wagers on an esports event if the book has effective integrity safeguards in place, including prohibitions on doping by participants and an effective program to deter doping.”

 Representatives of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) opined that it would be virtually impossible for event operators to assure bookies that its participants would not use any form of drug while participating. ESA is a US trade body for the video games industry and has been active since 1994. Speaking on the issue, Tara Ryan, the ESA vice president of State Government Affairs, said in part:

“The antidoping requirement is both unnecessary and will have the effect of making most esports tournaments ineligible for wagering, as most event operators see antidoping measures to be cost prohibitive… There is a lack of empirical evidence that any particular substance confers a material performance-enhancing benefit to esports players. Absent such a showing, it is unnecessary to impose programmatic requirements related to those substances.”

 Tara’s sentiments were echoed by Alisa Nave, an ESA consultant who spoke during a Commission inquiry. Alisa admitted that there was the risk of participants in esports activities using Adderall, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conditions like narcolepsy. Caffeine is also another stimulant that could be considered in some quarters to be a doping substance. 

Another impediment that industry insiders have noted concerning doping in esports would be the significant complications when it comes to drug testing for competitions. This is especially difficult in events where the participants are drawn from around the world. Ultimately, it was decided that the requirement of the doping amendment would be deleted.

Massive Potential for the Esports Betting Scene Across the US

While Esports is a big sporting competition across the United States, it is still relatively new in many individual states. In Nevada, for instance, it has become a betting option quite recently, with its peak being during the Covid-19 pandemic. At that time, most traditional sports could not be played due to the risk they possessed regarding being a potential factor for spreading the highly contagious novel coronavirus.

Nevada’s ETAC (Esports Technical Advisory Committee) commenced operations in 2022. The committee was established to deliberate on the future of the esports wagering ecosystem in the Battle Born State. Thanks to the new developments, Nevada sportsbooks will now have the ability to offer betting services on sanctioned esports tournaments without the additional burden of administrative drudgery.

As we speak, the esports wagering industry is growing rapidly and is expected to continue at the current pace for the foreseeable future. To put it into context, a Chicago-based cognitive market research firm conducted earlier this year projected that the US esports market will grow to nearly $4.5 billion by 2030. This is three times the current market cap of $1.5 billion, reflecting a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of about 18%.

The industry’s projected growth is majorly attributed to the entry of major industry stakeholders in the sport. Some of the most notable stakeholders in question include Microsoft’s Xbox, which has already initiated contacts to expand its scope of operations within the larger esports framework. The study mentioned above foresees a considerable spike in the sport’s market income as activities pertaining to online gambling pick up momentum. It also cites the advancement of technology as a possible catalyst for the evolution of esports wagering. The study also notes:

“Over the last few years, there has been a rapid increase in smart device adoption and internet penetration. Smart devices offer flexibility to customers on a smartphone, laptop, desktop, or tablet. With these devices, users are simply able to access several esports through apps and websites.

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