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Regulators Make It Easier For Nevada Sportsbooks To Take Bets On Esports

Written By Marc Meltzer on October 23, 2023
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The Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) recently amended its esports betting regulations, and it should make gambling on events much easier. This approval comes after the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) recommended the new regulations created by the Esports Technical Advisory Committee.

Additionally, the NGC did not approve a drug testing provision for the final regulations. This requirement would have been costly and could have impeded the expansion of esports betting.

The changes have been a long time coming. The Nevada Esports Technical Advisory Committee worked on the regulation changes for a year.

The hope from those supporting these changes is that making it easier for sportsbook operators to take bets will help grow the young esports betting business.

During the October 2023 NGC meeting, member Brittnie Watkins said:

“The regulations are very important to our industry. These amendments have been a long time in 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.”

Esports to be booked like traditional sports

Before the change, the requirement for a sportsbook to make a request and wait for approval for each esports event was time-consuming.

Time is money in the sports betting business. It was difficult for sportsbook operators to justify the time to make numerous requests for a new type of gambling that generated little revenue.

Sportsbook operators in Nevada no longer have to make individual requests to the NGCB to make betting on esports competitions available at their sportsbooks.

The change will allow Nevada sportsbooks to open gambling on all esports events like they would with football, basketball, and other major sports. Can you imagine if a sportsbook had to ask permission every time it wanted to take bets on a football or basketball game?

Las Vegas is already home to large esports competitions like:

  • EVO
  • Call of Duty League Championship
  • League of Legends World Championship

Additionally, the Hyper X Arena at Luxor regularly hosts local esports competitions.

No drug testing required for Nevada sportsbooks

The original regulation request included a provision for drug testing. This would have required sportsbook operators to confirm that each esports event has a code of conduct, including prohibitions on drug use.

Keeping this would have put Nevada on an island, as other states don’t require drug testing. The cost could have been prohibitive for event operators.

NGC Chairman Jennifer Tagliotti said: “(this) seems to be a nice idea, but logistically, financially, and practically very difficult.”

Removing this language will make it easier for Nevada sportsbook operators to take bets on esports competitions.

Esports is still growing in Nevada

Esports is still a relatively new sports betting option in Nevada. The peak for esports betting in the state might have been during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Casinos were closed and online sports betting was the only form of gambling in Nevada. The NGC quickly approved esports betting for numerous events since all major sports were paused.

Esports betting is broader than some might think. The competitions are more than just fighting or first-person shooter games.

During the pandemic, Nevada sportsbooks took bets on esports competitions like eNASCAR competitions. These were competitions with NASCAR drivers playing a video game of the races. Residents in most states were still quarantined at the time.

Former Circa sportsbook director Matthew Metcalf said the first eNASCAR race “ended up being about 50 percent of a normal race when all was said and done.” That was a solid start for a new esports event during a pandemic when there was little sports betting.

Five years ago, Nevada sportsbooks started taking bets on the Golden Tee World Championship competition in Las Vegas. The event has changed venues, but the gambling continued earlier this year at the Westgate Superbook.

The new regulations could open esports betting for numerous competitions in Nevada. This could finally make the state the home of esports betting that has been envisioned for years.

Photo by Mark J. Terrill / AP Photo
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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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