Place Your Esports Bets In Las Vegas: Downtown Grand, William Hill To Offer First Legal Wagers In US

Written By Dustin Gouker on November 18, 2016

[toc]Esports betting in Las Vegas is now officially on the big board.

Esports wagering live in Nevada

William Hill US, in partnership with the Downtown Grand Casino, announced on Friday that it had received approval to offer wagering on esports. It becomes the first sportsbook with esports anywhere in Nevada, or in the US, for that matter.

Will Hill will accept wagers on this weekend’s IEM Oakland eSports event for League of Legends.

The move to go live with esports betting comes quickly on the heels of a meeting of the Nevada Gaming Policy Committee, led by Governor Brian Sandoval.

“This announcement is a major step toward ensuring Nevada becomes the e-sports capital of the world. By embracing this unique opportunity and incorporating innovation and technology into our gaming industry, we’re expanding the potential of one of our oldest industries,” Sandoval said in a press release.

“Representatives from William Hill and Downtown Grand have been active partners with the Gaming Policy Committee as we examined e-sports wagering in the State of Nevada,” Sandoval continued. I would like to congratulate them on this approval and commend both companies for their swift work an determination.”

Downtown Grand and Will Hill lead the way

Nevada has designs on becoming a mecca for esports events and enthusiasts. Offering wagering on esports in a legal, regulated market is a part of that effort.

Esports has been on the casino industry’s radar throughout 2016. Previously, Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett explained that under the existing provisions of state gaming regulations, esports could be categorized as an athletic sports event. That allows Nevada sportsbooks to take wagers without further action.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to work closely with Chairman Burnett and the Governor’s Gaming Policy Committee to gain collective support for wagering on eSports. This has been an excellent example of a public/private partnership working together to create a new innovative way of gambling which will have a positive impact on State revenues,” said Seth Schorr, CEO of Fifth Street Gaming and Chairman of the Downtown Grand.

“We are proud that the Downtown Grand will be the home to the first regulated eSports wager in America. The team at the Downtown Grand has worked hard to establish itself as a truly unique eSports destination.”

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The first esports wagers

William Hill currently operates 108 race and sportsbooks in Nevada. Customers can wager on the LoL event at any of them or on William Hill sports betting app (if within the state of Nevada).

The Downtown Grand has been a leader in the esports vertical as home to a specialty esports venue. It continues that leadership role with the decision to move ahead with esports wagering.

With less than 24 hours lead time till the event starts, expectations for betting handle are minimal.

“Obviously it’s more symbolic than anything else, and a major milestone,” Schorr said.

He noted that there is an esports tournament at the nearby Neonopolis this weekend that could help the first give the first opportunity for esports wagering a boost. The Downtown Grand will host a viewing party for the finals of the IEM on Sunday at 10 a.m.

Bettors will be able to wager on which of the six participating teams will win the League of Legends tournament being hosted on Saturday and Sunday at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. The opening odds:

  • Team SoloMid (+110)
  • Longzhu (+160)
  • Flash Wolves (4/1)
  • Unicorns of Love (10/1)
  • INTZ e-Sports (60/1)
  • The Chiefs Esports (100/1)

Bettors will also be able on the two quarterfinal matches on Saturday:

  • INTZ e-Sports (+180) vs Unicorns of Love (-220)
  • The Chiefs Esports (+700) vs Longzhu (-1100)

What’s next for esports betting in Vegas?

Schorr told Esports Betting Report that the Downtown Grand and William Hill US are planning on taking wagers for events during MLG VEGAS. That takes place at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on December 16-18.

The gaming festival from Major League Gaming features the first North American Regional of the Call of Duty World League, as well as an Overwatch invitational. Those events both have $100,000 prize pools for the participants.

What events might be on the board in 2017?

“We’re focused first on MLG, then we’ll start to look at other events for next year,” Schorr said.

Right now, any sportsbook that wants to offer esports wagering on a specific event must go through Nevada gaming regulators for approval. Eventually, an advisory board will be formed to determined which tournaments and matches will be authorized for wagering.

“In Nevada, the most important thing is maintaining the integrity of the game, and that the gambler has a fair wager,” Schorr said. “At this point, it is going to be based on the tournament operator, and the integrity controls they have in place to make sure that everything is on the up and up.”

Image c/o TriFaMusicNerdEntOgrapher / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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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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