eSports bill approved by Nevada governor

Last weekend, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed a bill into law that legalizes eSports betting events.

Senate Bill 240 extends state laws currently in effect on sports wagering to eSports events. The newly-signed bill will modify current Nevada statutes having to do with pari-mutuel betting systems to now include competitive gaming, in addition to award shows such as The Oscars.

Nowhere in the revised text can the word “esports” be found, yet it is being referred to as “the eSports betting bill.” Instead, the language of SB 240 refers to “ 7BALL other events,” which has been injected within the current list of pari-mutuel wagering activities including athletic sports events and horse and dog racing. eSports wagering has already been sanctioned by Nevada regulators in Las Vegas sports books, and on July 1 the new law will take effect and allow the state to bet on just about everything.

The Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) may, under the new law, issue licenses permitting pari-mutuel wagering, including off-track pari-mutuel and adopt or modify regulations related to these particular modalities. The NGC may also adopt, amend and repeal regulations that are related to the conduct of such wagering. It also gives regulators the power to appoint an 11-person “Off-Track Pari-Mutuel Wagering Committee” licensed to engage in off-track pari-mutuel wagering.

The bill also states that the NCG may require a licensee to be fingerprinted and background information regarding his antecedents, habits a, d character. “The Nevada Gaming Commission shall, and it is granted the power to, demand access to and inspect all books and records of any person licensed pursuant to this chapter pertaining to and affecting the subject of the license,” according to SB 240.

Sponsored by Senator Becky Harris, SB 240 was debated in a hearing on March 23. Serving as a witness, Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel, entrepreneur and former FPS champion, referenced his own particular training regime in order to help convince regulators that eSports players should be included among “athletes,” according to Focus Gaming News. Also on the right side of the legislation, A.G. Burnett, Chairman of the Gaming Control Board, expressed his desire to see eSports competitions take place at the 20,000 capacity T-Mobile Arena, which is currently used for UFC fights and concerts, according to the report.

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In November 2016, UK-based bookmaker William Hill plc (WMH:London), and its partner the Downtown Grand Casino received approval to offer betting on eSports, becoming the first and only sportsbook with esports, not just in Nevada, but in the entire US. However, up until now eSports hasn’t been officially recognized as part of the statewide law.

eSports betting pavilions are already being built up in Las Vegas by casinos, due to gaming analysts’ belief that these types of games have more appeal for millennials than do slot machines. And in the United Kingdom, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) with the Gambling Commission there.