The casino industry doesn’t adapt well to change. As much as operators claim to follow trends, the time it takes to debate and implement anything new tends to move at a snail’s pace. Nevada passed a skill-based slot law 2 years ago, but none exists in Las Vegas. New Jersey passed a similar law in February that legalizes eSports betting, yet no casino has yet to appeal to the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) to implement such games.
The first hint that eSports betting could eventually makes its way into Atlantic City came last week when Revel Casino’s Glenn Straub included an eSports Lounge in the long list of additives intended for his multi-million renovation of the east coast gambling resort.
According to the Press of Atlantic City, Straub was poring over old equipment at the defunct Showboat casino last week in search of “obsolescent computer equipment” that might “prove useful for an e-sports operation — competitive video-gaming — that he said will become a prominent component of Revel over the coming months.”
eSports Betting a Developing Trend
For the last few years, video gamers have used various betting websites to compete in and wager on online multi-player tournaments, often involving the most popular PC and console games like Call of Duty, League of Legends and Madden NFL. Whether doing so over the internet is legal or not… well, that’s a whole other matter.
Now that skill-based gaming laws have been passed in New Jersey, as well as Nevada, there’s great potential for live eSports operations in these states. Unfortunately, the actual Esports lounges have yet to appear. At least, not in any abundance.
One Las Vegas casino, the Downtown Grand, began incorporating eSports tournaments late last year, and they’ve become incredibly popular. However, they are only available on weekends during specific evening hours. But if the proof is in the pudding, Downtown Grand has made one huge batch of delicious pudding for eSports taste-testers.
NJ DGE Confirms No Applicants for eSports
The New Jersey DGE’s attorney Chuck Kimmel told eSportsBettingReport that no casinos have submitted applications or slots for lab testing related to the implementation of eSports betting. He did confirm, however, that the temporary regulations passed earlier this year give AC casinos the right to incorporate skill-based wagering, including betting on player-vs-player slot machines with a rake, and full-fledged eSports tournaments.
“If you wanted to have two machines side by side where you were each playing against each other and taking a rake, we have temporarily adopted regs that would allow that…” Kimmel explained. As an example, he described a racing or shooting game in a casino, where “two people come up and play together and each put $10 dollars and the winner gets $18 and the casino takes $2, we could do that right now if anybody wanted to submit it to our slot lab to test.”
For tournaments, Kimmel said it would take a submitted document to the DGE, at least 5 days in advance, detailing the number of participants, equipment being used and surveillance/security measures used to monitor the contest.
One setback is that traditional video game consoles cannot be used. A casino could not simply set up a PS4 or XBox One in front of a large-screen TV and allow clients to sit, play and wager on the games. DGE spokeswoman Kerry Langan said gaming consoles do not meet the regulatory equipment guidelines to be deemed slot machines under the definition of ‘skill-based’ slots.
eSports Tournaments Next-Best to Sports Betting
Just about everyone in New Jersey – public officials, casino operators and gambling enthusiasts – are all in agreement that sports wagering should be legalized in the state. Unfortunately, despite years worth of court appeals, it hasn’t happened.
Some analysts believe that eSports betting would at least be the ‘next-best thing’ for those who would rather be placing wagers on real athletic contests. In the meantime, the Garden State is now on its 8th straight year fighting court injunctions to legalize traditional sports betting.