Esports Betting Was Already Legal In Nevada, So Why Did The State Enact A New Law?

Written By Dustin Gouker on June 2, 2017 - Last Updated on January 22, 2018

[toc]When Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a bill that clarified the law for betting on esports and non-sporting events, some in the gaming and esports industries might have been left scratching their heads.

After all, Nevada regulators already said sportsbooks could allow esports betting under current law. In fact, the Downtown Grand already took the first esports bets in the state late last year.

So what exactly happened when Sandoval’s ink turned a bill into law?

First, current Nevada law limited types of wagering

Here was the initial impetus of the bill: Current law limited the types of wagering Nevada’s sportsbooks could take on esports and other events to straight bets.

“The purpose of the bill was to make clear in Nevada law that pari-mutuel wagering on ‘other events,’ which includes esports as well as other non-sporting events such as the WSOP, NBA draft, etc., is permitted,” Jennifer Roberts, of UNLV’s International Center for Gaming Regulation, told Esports Betting Report.

The bill was the brainchild of the UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law, which has students in the gaming law program gain the experience of going through the process of creating or amending laws that affect gaming. Roberts said adjunct professor Greg Gemignani was the leader of the effort.

Sometimes such efforts result in laws, like the case here.

The problem was that the statute that governs pari-mutuel wagering is separate from the statute governing other gaming laws. In order to offer pari-mutuel wagering on esports — if anyone should wish to do so — the state had to amend the law.

Then comes a new bill…

So amend the law is what the Nevada government did.

Sen. Becky Harris, who graduated from the Boyd School of Law, told ESBR she was glad to sponsor the bill.

“When approached, I was happy to help my alma mater develop and usher the bill through the legislature, Harris said. “I believe it is good for the law school, good for Nevada business, and good for the state as a whole. I am fortunate to work with colleagues in the legislature that are willing to pursue new opportunities for our state.”

Will anyone offer this type of esports betting?

That’s certainly up in the air. Although the impetus to clarify the law is one thing, it’s not terribly useful if no one offers such wagering. (Of course, the bill allows pari-mutuel wagering on a lot of things beyond just esports.)

“I’ve heard of possible interest, from a few different parties that might be interested,” Roberts said. “If it’s something that’s in the law, then it’s something that they might pursue. Now they have the opportunity to do it, versus it was unclear before. And the Gaming Control Board needed that clear authority to authorize it.

While no one is likely ready to offer such a product immediately after the ink on the law dries, it could be on some gaming interests’ agendas. One platform in Nevada — USFantasy — already offers pari-mutuel type wagering on tradition. sporting events. It’s not a stretch to think it could adapt its platform to include esports contests.

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Las Vegas still working on becoming a worldwide esports hub

The law is also one step toward becoming a hub for esports activities of all types, according to Harris.

“The hope is that this bill, along with other legislation, will encourage growth in the gaming, hospitality and events industry statewide,” Harris said. “Esports events are events that we would like to encourage in Nevada as I believe that our state has the best combination of available event locations, technological infrastructure, lodging, and additional entertainment offerings for esports event operators and fans.”

Earlier this year, the Nevada Esports Alliance launched in response to the developing overlap between esports and gambling. Leaders in government and business have set the goal of making Las Vegas the “esports capital of the world.”

While the new law may just be a small part of that, it still puts Nevada on a path to being a more welcoming environment for esports.

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Dustin Gouker

Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner. You can also find his work at Legal Sports Report.

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