Will Esports Entertainment Group Enter NJ Betting Market In 2021?

In an effort to capitalize on the growing sports NJ betting marketEsports Entertainment Group announced Tuesday it submitted its gaming license application with the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.

EEG and Bally’s Corp., the parent company of Bally’s Atlantic City, entered into a multi-year agreement in 2020.

According to a press release, EEG operates several entities across three key pillars:

  • esports entertainment and infrastructure
  • esports wagering
  • iGaming

The company has offices in New Jersey, the United Kingdom, and Malta.

Strong demand pushing esports’ market entry

Grant Johnson, CEO of EEG, cited a recent study from Interpret which found over 50% of U.S. fans said they are likely to engage in esports betting. Johnson said EEG is “confident that demand will be strong.”

“This is our first gaming license application in the U.S., and once approved, we believe we will be the first esports-vertical focused sportsbook with a state license in the U.S.,” he said.

“Securing access to what is currently the largest market for sports betting in the U.S. will provide a strong advantage as we look to expand into additional markets in the U.S. moving forward.”

Johnson expects the NJDGE to approve the application sometime in the second quarter of 2021.

The ‘next big thing’ is not here, yet

At the moment, betting on esports has not been broadly legalized in NJ. The DGE director can issue temporary approvals for events.

NJ Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, a former Atlantic City casino executive, has introduced legislation to permanently allow wagering on competitive electronic gaming contests. The bill passed the Assembly but stalled in the state Senate last year.

“Esports is the next big thing when it comes to sporting events,” said Caputo, chair of the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee. “With online sports betting now legal in our state and a rapidly expanding esports industry already in existence, the time is right for New Jersey to expand legal wagering beyond traditional sports.”

However, Atlantic City has hosted several esports tournaments in recent years:

  • Caesars hosted the city’s first event, Gears of War Pro Circuit, in 2017.
  • Harrah’s Resort held the Rainbow Six Siege Pro League event in 2018.
  • In 2019, Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall held the Ultimate Gaming Championship’s Halo Classic tournament.
  • Showboat Hotel has also hosted several tournaments.

Nevada allowed esports betting for the first time in 2020.

Dreamstime Photo 

About the Author

David Danzis

David Danzis is an award-winning journalist who has covered business, politics, government, education, and sports in New Jersey. Most recently, he wrote about Atlantic City casinos, online gaming, and sports betting for The Press of Atlantic City. David is a graduate of Rutgers University.