The legislative situation surrounding gambling in the US can be very complicated even for those who live in the country. Basically it is down to each state to set the rules over what betting people can and cannot do, so the rules vary considerably.
Native New Yorkers will be aware that their state recently made betting on sports legal, becoming the latest in a long line of them to make that move. As the situation now stands, people in the state can wager at sports betting sites and casinos, but online casino gambling is only legal if the sites are located offshore.
Clearly the process of liberalization is well underway then and it seems likely that other betting markets will be fully opened up before too long.
Betting on Esports: How it Works
Esports betting is among the markets that remain prohibited in New York right now. There is currently no way for residents of the city, or the wider state, to participate in what is a growth area of the gambling sector.
Of course, it is important to clarify just what is meant by ‘esports.’ Despite the name, these activities do not have any connection to what is traditionally thought of as sport.
Instead they are video games that people play against each other in competition tournaments. The games are usually multiplayer ones that are ideally suited to that kind of mass competitive play.
Growing numbers of people are choosing to watch esports tournaments as well as compete in them. Many of those spectators also like to bet on the outcomes and it is legal to do so in a handful of US states – namely West Virginia, Tennessee, New Jersey and Nevada. Legalization of it is much more common in Europe though, with both the UK and Germany permitting legal esports betting on a nationwide basis.
In those US states where it is allowed, the actual process is not much different to conventional sports betting. Indeed the majority of global esports bets are placed using the biggest and most popular sports betting sites.
Those sites have integrated it into their offers in recognition of the fact that betting on an esports player or team to win a single match or tournament is really no different to doing the same thing with conventional sports. It is that understanding of the similarities between esports and normal sports that could see betting on the former legalized in New York and other parts of the US.
More than 160 million people in the country play video games on a regular basis so there is a definite customer base for it if states like New York decide to take the plunge.
On a worldwide basis, the esports industry is worth billions and the money that legal betting on it would bring in could be very useful to the state. Arguably the resistance is down to a combination of not fully grasping what esports are and concerns that it could increase gambling among young people.
That latter point is a concern, as the young are the biggest audience for esports tournaments. Making sure that any wagering on them is tightly regulated seems a more sensible solution than trying to maintain a total ban on it though.
What Games Would Have Odds?
There are a number of top esports games that would attract betting interest if New York legalized it.
League of Legends
This is probably the single biggest game within the esports industry and major tournaments centered on it are already a big money-spinner. It is a multiplayer action game where teams of five compete to kill the opposing teams and that simple but exciting format is perfect for esports events.
Every betting app on earth would be offering odds on it within New York if they could.
This basketball simulation game based on the NBA league and its stars narrows the gap between esports and standard ones even more. With ultra-realistic simulated NBA action, it is another popular choice for tournaments.
Betmgm app would definitely have odds for NBA2K if esports was legal and that is true of its rivals too.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Known in esports circles as CSGO, this tactical first-person shooter game is another that has many tournaments dedicated to it. Thousands of people around the world are currently making a living by playing it on a professional basis.
They do that by streaming their play and competing in the big tournaments and there is no way that betting sites would miss out on that sort of action.
The gambling situation in New York is improving, but esports remains out of reach right now. There are sites ready to offer odds though.