Facing one of the greatest lulls in sports betting since its legalization in the United States, Nevada has approved esports betting for regulated sportsbooks throughout the state. As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the globe, sportsbooks have been forced into limited sports betting offerings, raising concerns for operators throughout the country. In an attempt to mitigate the effects of these limited offerings, Nevada has made the historic decision to allow sports betting outlets throughout the state to begin accepting wagers for Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), a popular and competitive first-person shooter. With this decision, Nevada becomes the first state in the country to officially offer esports betting, opening the door for other states to do the same.
Shifting to Esports
While professional sports leagues across the globe have stopped indefinitely due to the coronavirus, professional gaming has come into the spotlight. Professional gamers and streamers have found solace in the fact that much of what they do can be completed from the comfort of their own home, while retaining a competitive atmosphere that sports fans crave. Even popular NBA and NFL players have begun to explore this outlet, playing and streaming competitions with some of their favorite video games.
The potential of offering lines on esports has hung in the balance in many states, as sports betting continues to evolve throughout the country. While many states have adopted legislation for sports betting since the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to lift the ban, many other states continue to question its merit. While sports betting is still in its infancy throughout the country, many have debated whether or not esports should be thrown into the mix of potential lines for bettors.
While the legitimacy of esports may be debated, there is no denying the competitiveness. Leagues for popular games like FIFA, Overwatch, League of Legends and CS:GO have been established across the globe with official rules and regulations. Some leagues, like FIFA, have even established ties with professional sports leagues like the MLS. Additionally, streaming platforms like Twitch, Mixer, and YouTube have given professional gamers an outlet for building an audience that is comparable to professional sports contests. Now, with the absence of available traditional contests to wager on, it appears that esports is going to have a chance to prove itself as a viable sports betting option.
On Thursday, William Hill became the first Las Vegas sportsbook to begin offering esports betting, listing lines for contests that took place on the same day. The CS:GO matches that they offered lines on were available to live audiences on various streaming sites, including YouTube and Twitch. Much like any other sporting events, the odds were accessible via William Hill’s Nevada mobile app for players to begin placing their wagers. The matches offered by William Hill took place in the ESL Proleague and included the following matchups: 100 Thieves (-500) vs. Swole Patrol (+375) and Team Liquid (-335) vs. Made in Brazil (+275).
One Small Step of Esports
In many countries throughout Europe, esports has already been accepted as a reliable sports betting option. In the United States, New Jersey has tested esports betting, but concrete legislation has not been finalized. Nevada’s decision to pioneer esports betting by offering odds for CS:GO paves the way for other states, as well as other esports.
The decision to offer lines for esports appears to be a lifeline for a gambling industry that is not only faced with the issue of suspended sports leagues, but also the temporary closure of many brick-and-mortar sportsbooks and casinos. In the coming months, the success or failure of Nevada’s decision could determine the future of esports betting in the country.