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Former NJDGE executive says jurisdictions ready to embrace esports
Sharpr is a weekly newsletter covering the intersection of esports and betting
Hey everyone, Cody here.
This week I caught up with Eric Weiss, the former NJDGE (New Jersey Division of Gambling Enforcement) executive helping tackle key issues stunting the adoption of esports betting in the states. Weiss shared notes from an April meeting with regulatory agencies, highlighting what feels like an unassailable list of barriers to navigate in an effort to see that regulators find peace with esports, once and for all.
The sector has been otherwise quiet relative to past weeks, so I hope you enjoy this week’s shortened issue to go along with the shortened holiday work week.
Let’s jump in.
In this week’s edition of Sharpr…
Former NJDGE executive says jurisdictions are ready to embrace esports.
Las Vegas will be home to a Call of Duty League and Overwatch League team in 2023.
Real Luck Group reports its Q1 2022 financial results.
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Former NJDGE executive says jurisdictions are ready to embrace esports
The New Jersey Division of Gambling Enforcement’s former Chief of Staff Eric Weiss wants to help esports betting grow stateside, and he’s bringing 30 years of experience in casino gaming and sports betting to the table.
In March, Weiss (now a VP at Odds On Compliance) was named one of three founding members of the Regulated Videogames and Esports Committee, a newly-formed advisory group hoping to create best-practice guidelines for competitors, regulators, and bettors, to have confidence in the safe operation of esports wagering.
At face-value, the RVEC is similar to Nevada’s Esports Technical Advisory Committee–a group of individuals formed by the Gaming Control Board in November 2021 to foster esports betting opportunities in the state. But Weiss says the RVEC is different:
“Nevada is going down the path of talking to the industry on how they want to regulate [esports], and asking the industry for input,” he said. “We’re doing the opposite – we’re going to the regulator community.”
In April, the RVEC hosted an online, invite-only roundtable with regulators from 15 different state jurisdictions to discuss the esports betting market, their concerns, and ultimately what can help them feel comfortable authorizing wagers.
The roundtable was the first of many, with the advisory committee set to host a follow-up meeting next month to drill down on governance and fairness.
Weiss recognizes that most of the action from esports is generated from the top in-person events–the Majors, World Championships, and so on–but says there’s a lot of value in less high-profile events too, such as those operated online.
“In order for esports to reach its full potential as a betting market, you need content, more things for people to wager on. You can’t always wait for those large-scale events to have wagering, there are a lot of events that are held online.”
The esports industry had made a successful shift to remote competition during the pandemic, and even as restrictions eased, the efficiencies of digital and hybrid event production would stick. Now, more key esports events are taking place online with players competing from remote locations, including their own homes.
Weiss says remote competitions draw concerns from regulators, such as verifying the players (KYC), equipment, and bandwidth equality. Despite these trepidations and other concerns, it’s a topic for discussion, and the RVEC will look to understand what the primary roadblocks are and how the group can help navigate them.
“Ultimately what we’re trying to do with this committee is to understand the concerns of the regulators and get through all of the issues that we want to get through,” Weiss said. “We’d like to get to the point where you have a bunch of content available for people season long that regulators are comfortable with from the standpoint of integrity, they are comfortable with allowing people in their jurisdiction to wager on these events.
“We want to provide the guidelines for what regulators want to see in order to allow them to wager on [esports].”
Online events are just one of a laundry list of subjects the RVEC plans to tackle. Other items highlighted from its April meeting with regulators includes integrity standards, dispute resolutions, sanctions, and sportsbook reporting, among others.
“When you start peeling the onion back, there’s so much to the puzzle.”
🦈 Sharpr Take: While esports has very much broached the social mainstream in the last few years, it’s still vastly different from anything U.S. regulators have dealt with. Overcoming the learning curve and striking a balance in esports feels like an insurmountable challenge – but it’s one the RVEC is equipped to take on.
Aiding Weiss and his other founding members–Anthony Gaud (G3 Esports) and Harry Jackson (Fox Rothschild)–in their crusade are the regulators themselves. Weiss says the interest in esports is “immense,” adding that “most jurisdictions are ready to embrace this.”
Those are helpful tailwinds as the RVEC continues to better understand what will elicit a sense of comfort from regulators and ultimately provide more esports betting opportunities across the nation. As UNLV’s Director of Research Dr. Brett Abarbanel explained previously, the regulatory process in esports needs “streamlining,” and advisory groups like these are taking strides to move the needle.
One last thing: In the nationwide race to bring esports betting to fruition, Weiss said New Jersey is the clear frontrunner, pointing to the state’s institutional knowledge, policy, and technical experience.
“If [esports betting] is going to succeed anywhere, it’s going to succeed in New Jersey. They have the right regulatory framework and they have a head start from the standpoint of being first-movers in the internet space in 2013.”
🗞 In the news
Real Luck Group (the parent company of esports betting platform Luckbox) has reported its financial results for Q1 2022.
Las Vegas will assume two esports franchise teams from the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League in 2023.
SIS has appointed Adam Conway as its head of esports and competitive gaming.
ENCE has unveiled a partnership with Asian operator Jing Ji Bao.
📈 By the numbers
Approximately $400M is owed to Activision Blizzard in Overwatch League team franchise payments.
New York generated $267M in online sports betting tax revenue, the most of any state, next to New Jersey ($229M), and Pennsylvania ($253M).
Israeli mobile games company Playtika will lay off 250 employees across studios in Los Angeles, Montreal, and London.