Esports betting is growing rapidly all over the world, with many countries already keying into the potentials of the industry.
However, while bettors in many other parts of the globe can wager freely on esports, things are not so clear in the United States.
As with all forms of gambling in the US, the legal situation of esports betting in America is complicated.
Up until 2018, sports wagering of any kind had been prohibited in most states in the US, with the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) legally preventing sports betting.
The sports betting landscape would change completely in May 2018, when the Supreme Court ruled against PASPA, freeing up individual US states to make their own betting laws.
However, that court ruling did not specifically mention esports. It was left to the states to determine whether esports should be classed along with traditional sports or whether it should be a completely different category.
As of now, sports betting is legal in over 30 states, but each state differs in the way it views esports betting.
Arizona, for example, considers esports betting as part of traditional sports betting, while Kansas does not specifically mention esports betting in its wagering laws.
Some other key states that have confirmed the legality of esports betting are West Virginia, Tennessee, and New Jersey.
The case of New Jersey is quite interesting. NJ was center stage in the battle against PASPA, and was the first to legalize sports betting after the favorable Supreme Court ruling in 2018, but the state did not officially allow esports betting until 2021, when it added “professional electronic sports and competitive video game events” to the sports betting scope.
In January 2022, New Jersey issued a license to VIE.gg, becoming the first state in the country to give a license to an operator that offers exclusively esports betting. The site was closed down in November 2022 by parent company Esports Entertainment Group.
If you are in New Jersey, and are looking for a nice esports site, you may want to consider a sportsbook like Draftkings and take advantage of their strong esports collection. Joining Draftkings also means you get to claim their welcome offer, reputed as one of the best betting bonuses in the US.
The esports betting liberalism in New Jersey is far from country-wide.
While New Jersey residents can wager freely on esports like Counter Strike, Call of Duty and League of Legends, residents of some other states do not have that luxury.
Indiana and Iowa, for example, despite allowing wagering on traditional sports, have categorically ruled esports betting as illegal. There have been moves to legalize esports betting in Iowa, but as of now, it is not allowed in the state.
New Jersey, Indiana and Iowa are just amongst a handful of states that have made their stance on esports betting very clear. In many other states, wagering on esports is a gray area. As a result, many US sportsbooks do not include esports in their portfolio at all.
The danger of this uncertainty is that esports betting enthusiasts may be forced to use unlicensed betting sites, which would then leave them in danger of being scammed.
With many bettors now looking to bet on esports, it is important for state legislators to have a look at their sports betting laws, and make their positions clear on whether they want to allow esports or not. And with the global esports market now topping $1 billion, the US may generally want to soften its stance on esports betting.