NEW JERSEY – A bill that would include esports as internet gaming cleared the State and Local Government Committee Thursday.
Former Atlantic City mayor and Assemblyman Don Guardian’s bill (A4397) would expand the existing Internet gaming law to permit betting on esports events through licensed casinos or their affiliates. Esports – short for “electronic sports – is competitive organized video gaming usually involving multiple players. Players form teams and leagues that compete in popular games like Call of Duty, Apex Legends and Halo.
“This is the new type of gaming across the world. We do need to jump ahead of this. We need to be supporting the racetracks and the brick-and-mortar in Atlantic City. This bill gives them an opportunity to offer esports to their folio,” Guardian (R-Atlantic) said.
Esports is big business, with revenues easily surpassing $1 billion annually since 2019, and quickly gaining on $2 billion by year’s end. Gaming events sponsored by major companies such as Coca-Cola or Xfinity now fill stadiums and draw millions of viewers at home who most often watch these competitions on the live-streaming service Twitch, owned by Amazon, Guardian said.
New Jersey’s nine casinos – Bally’s, Borgata, Caesars, Golden Nugget, Harrah’s, Hard Rock, Ocean Resort, Tropicana and Resorts – and its three racetracks (Freehold Raceway, the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park) have on-site sports wagering lounges and online sports pools. In New Jersey, casinos’ internet gaming increased 12.6% to $1.66 billion in 2022, Guardian said.
“Atlantic City and all of New Jersey is poised to be an esports epicenter, if we are smart and get in on this now,” Guardian said. “We have the infrastructure and are well ahead of any other states looking to cash in on this amazing revenue stream.”
The bill is cosponsored by Atlantic County Assemblywoman Claire Swift.