esports

Virtuals and esports – what’s legal for the US market?

For the latest Better Collective Spotlight, we asked USBets.com to explain what is legal in terms of virtual sports and esports in the US, before Better Collective outlined how it is adapting to this time of crisis – including a “quick switch” for its Rotogrinders.com platform.

The entire gambling industry is looking for creative alternatives to traditional betting markets during the COVID-19 enforced suspension of most live sports events.

However, the legality of esports and virtual sports – popular products to complement or substitute real live sports across the betting world – varies from state to state in the US.

Eric Raskin, Managing Editor of US Bets, explained: “Some states such as New Jersey require individual approval from the Division of Gaming Enforcement for any new betting market, while others such as Nevada have implied approval of all sports – but that doesn’t cover esports, since it doesn’t fit the traditional definition of a sport. 

“Still, Nevada has approved betting on some esports events already in 2020. The only legal betting state in which esports wagering has been specifically outlawed is Indiana. In West Virginia, betting is legal as long as all esports competitors are 18 or older.”

Moving on to virtual sports, Raskin added: “The key criteria is that the event in question not be pre-taped. In the case of a high-profile NBA 2k tournament, for example, because it aired on ESPN on delay, US sportsbooks could not take action on it.”

As a relatively new market, pick up of virtual sports and esports content remains low, but Better Collective – whose US division was set up to house betting-based properties including rotogrinders.com, pocketfives.com, sportshandle.com, usbets.com and pennbets.com – has been keeping a “close eye” on how viable these products become.

“In the US, we’ve seen attempts at televised games of H-O-R-S-E, NBA2k, F1, NASCAR and MLB The Show filling slots on major networks,” said Better Collective’s Jason Wilson.

“Our individual product teams are keeping a close eye on what viable options come from these virtual competitions, finding hope in the leagues’ commitment to exploring a pivot towards new platforms.”

However, it is esports content that has really piqued the company’s interest. In fact, earlier this year Better Collective finalised the €34.5m acquisition of esports platform HLTV.org – a deal which has, inevitably, fast-tracked a change in approach across its stable of brands.

Wilson added: “Rotogrinders has quickly shifted toward providing options focused around established esports competitions around the world such as League of Legends and CS:GO.” 

This “quick switch”, he said, has enabled RotoGrinders.com to deliver premium League of Legends and CS:GO fantasy sports news, updates and analysis to users of the platform.

He concluded: “We have also shifted focus to casino related content topics where we have experience, and have held online poker tournaments for our members and email subscribers through Global Poker.”

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