The casino and betting industry in Nevada is currently in a complete shutdown, with all Las Vegas casinos and sportsbooks being closed in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Online betting on sports has suffered, as well, since all major sports events around the world have been put on hold. As bookmakers are looking for new betting opportunities, the Nevada Gaming Control Board has just approved several eSports events.
The Nevada gambling and betting regulator announced on Tuesday that would allow all licensed books to post and accept wagers on three major electronic sports events. These include the Overwatch League, League of Legends European Championship and the North America League of Legends Championship. Betting fans will be able to place three types of wagers, namely head to head, winner of each match, and overall winner.
Licensees who want to offer different markets must submit and receive separate application approval. A total of nine matches in the Overwatch League take place this week. They are expected to attract decent attention from bettors since various teams from Atlanta, Los Angeles and Boston will be participating. Many League of Legends events from all over Europe and North America are also scheduled for this week.
Bettors in Nevada should be aware that no live bets will be available. According to the conditions for the approval, all wagers must be deactivated before the start of each match. Apart from select eSports events, there are not many options Nevada sportsbooks patrons can bet on right now. Bookmakers offer futures, as well as a limited number of bets on small leagues and championships from all around the world.
ESPN reported that the betting options available at most sportsbooks right now are sports previously considered less popular or even obscure. William Hill said that in recent weeks, they have received $100,000 in total bets on international table tennis every day.
Rise of eSports in the Wake of a Global Pandemic
Tuesday’s approval of betting on the three eSports leagues is not the only major development in the world of electronic sports betting. In the last month alone, the Nevada Gaming Control Board allowed bookmakers to accept wagers on several other eSports leagues – Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, iRacing, and Dota 2. Bettors in Nevada can also wager on ESL Pro League: North America, ESL Meisterschaft, ESL One Los Angeles, and eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series.
The COVID-19 crisis, which forced governments around the world to cancel sporting and entertainment events, shut down businesses and entire sectors of the economy, has had a huge impact on the sports betting industry. Even though bookmakers with online presence are allowed to operate, they have nothing to offer their patrons. Odds can be found on future bets and obscure events from abroad.
The pandemic has affected eSports, as well, but not as dramatically – the digital nature of the sports allowed the events to be carried out after all. Some large tournaments and competitions such as Call of Duty League and ESL Pro League opted for an online-only format. Without any traditional sports available to wager on, betting fans are now looking at eSports as an alternative.
This could result in significant growth for the sector for 2020, especially if the restrictive measures last for another few months. In 2019, eSports betting reportedly reached $8 billion in total wagers, which still lags behind other forms of online gambling but at the same time, it is the fastest-growing one.