New Jersey Passes Bill to Legalize Sports Betting, Intentionally Excludes Esports
On Monday, June 11th, New Jersey officially legalized sports betting after Governor Murphy signed the bill that had been sitting on his desk since Thursday, June 7th. His reasoning for this delay was that he intended on thoroughly reviewing the bill just like he would any other bill that comes across his desk.
The entire weekend, analysts fretted over the idea that Murphy was possibly considering adding some kind of kickback to the professional leagues that were putting pressure on his office like the NBA and MLB. Instead, Governor Murphy ignored that noise and approved a bill that officially excludes high school sports and esports from being legally wagered on.
For those generations that are unfamiliar with the term esports, it’s basically electronic sports and/or competitive video gaming where participants compete in official tournaments and other organized competitions.
The surprise of this news is that in no way, shape or form has any of New Jersey’s legislature discussed the topic of esports. In fact, esports has never been discussed on any State or National level throughout this entire sports betting ordeal. And yet, somehow esports was a last draft inclusion into the athletic activities that are prohibited from being wagered on:
“A prohibited sports event includes all high school sports events, electronic sports, and competitive video games but does not include international sports events in which persons under age 18 make up a minority of the participants.”
It’s being speculated that esports was included into this clause due to the lack of regulations and the increased potential of minors being involved in competitive gaming.
Keep in mind, this law will not prevent residents within the state of New Jersey from making illegal esports wagers online. To those that may not know, major online sportsbooks actually offer esports wagers, which means those diehard competitive gaming bettors can still place bets, albeit illegally. But then again, that’s how the sports betting industry has operated over the last two-decades.
It’s estimated that roughly 97% of all sports betting is done illegally. Well, that’s going to change. With each state slowly passing their sports betting bills, bettors will be able to place wagers legally and the states will start getting a piece of that sports betting revenue. That’s been the main focus moving forward for most states.
As for esports, proponents will keep fighting the good fight. One area that they will try to argue is that esports should not be mentioned in the same breath or sentence as high school sports. And, to this point, the proponents do have a valid argument. These two topics are nowhere close to being the same. There’s a misinformed stigma that esports mostly consists of minors. This is inaccurate. However, until esports can become a more universally regulated niche, it’s safe to say that competitive gaming and electronic sports will remain a fringe niche and illegal to wager on.
Nevertheless, all non-esports fanatics within New Jersey can celebrate this landmark sports betting occasion as they led the charge in fight to destroy PASPA. Thursday, June 14th, will be a glorious day in the Garden State as that’s when residents can officially begin placing wagers online and in person.
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