Esports & Daily Fantasy Sports in the US

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Published by Daniel Hardman on August 20, 2020 in Industry News

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Esports has seen a huge uptick in popularity – both in general as a competitive sport as well as in the betting scene. However where does it stand in the US? The US sends a number of teams to participate in esports tournaments every year, often competing against the strongest Asian and European regional teams. Is the increasing popularity and international presence represented in betting, and fantasy sports, in the US? We’ve aimed to look into this and find out.


Current state of esports betting

Right now, esports aren’t necessarily part of the available roster of sports that punters can bet on in the US. For instance, in some states players can place bets on horse racing but not the NFL – in others there isn’t a restriction on any sports that players can bet on, but worries about things like match fixing make regulators wary.  

Esports can be found on some fantasy sports apps and sites, however. With the format of an esports tournament mimicking in some parts the progression of a traditional sports tournament, including qualifying rounds, teams made up of players that can take a bench, a coach, and semi-final to final formats, picking players for your fantasy sports team is much the same as with something like the NHL. Plus, with games like FIFA, it’s almost the same as making a regular soccer team. However, it isn’t always so straightforward, and depends on each state.


New Jersey and bill A637

Recently introduced, this bill is aiming to pass through NJ legislature and to regularise the position of esports as a sporting event – which would open the door to sports betting being legal under the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE). If it passes, bettors will be able to make bets of up to $100, meaning operators will be able to offer this as a potential market to players. Bill A637 could be the key to extending opportunities for bettors into esports, as with traditional sports facing limitations this also means that avenues for betting are limited.

Esports were not included in legal sports bets in New Jersey following the repeal of PASPA, which severely limited gambling options across the United States. Initially, there were concerns about the age of players on teams as well as the potential audience for the games. Given that New Jersey is at the forefront of gambling legislation in the US, it remains to be seen what effect this will have on the industry nationally – but sportsbook operators are hopeful it will lead to more betting opportunities.


Esports and sponsorship across the US

Esports isn’t just games like Call of Duty or Rocket League, which don’t have exact parallels with real life sports, but also consists of games like FIFA, or NBA 2K, which involve players picking real-life athletes or teams to play. Esports tournaments using these games anticipate the players in the esports teams knowing the real life stats well, as well as having a high level of skill when it comes to playing the game.

Partnerships, common in Europe (such as the Bundesliga official FIFA team) are uncommon in the US, but we can see a move towards support for this. Monkey Knife Fight, the well-known fantasy sports app, recently pledged sponsorship money to the Miami Dolphins. Given that esports are edging into the world of traditional sports when it comes to DFS, it’s speculation but we hope to see more sponsorship deals like this in the US – towards esports teams too!

The future of esports and fantasy sports betting in the US isn’t yet clear, but with greater popularity and new legislation, it stands a good chance of being more prevalent as time goes on!

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