UK online bookmaker William Hill recently announced that the Nevada Gaming Policy Committee had reviewed its application to offer eSports betting in the state and had given the company approval to accept bets starting from the IEM Oakland eSports event which took place over the weekend and featured the League of Legends video game. William Hill partnered with the Downtown Grand Las Vegas casino to become the first provider in the United States to offer eSports betting.
The eSports industry in the United States has grown rapidly over the last few years and attracts a large following which promoted the Downtown Grand Las Vegas to open a dedicated eSports lounge earlier this year and hold weekly events for a number of popular eSports games such as Mortal Combat, Street Fighter and Madden. There have been numerous discussions in the past regarding the possibility of accepting eSports wagers in Nevada but it was only on November 16 did the Gaming Policy Committee grant William Hill official approval.
Governor Brian Sandoval congratulated both William Hill and Downtown Grand in becoming the first providers to offer eSports betting in the state and appreciated them for their determination and swiftness in being able to accept eSports wagers so quickly. Gov. Sandoval stated that the decision by the Gaming Policy Committee was an important step in transforming Nevada into the eSports capital of the world.
In a statement, Seth Schorr, Chairman of the Downtown Grand Casino said “It has been an honor and a privilege to work closely with Chairman Burnett and the Governor’s Gaming Policy Committee to gain collective support for wagering on eSports. This has been an excellent example of a public/private partnership working together to create a new innovative way of gambling which will have a positive impact on State revenues. We are proud that the Downtown Grand will be the home to the first regulated eSports wager in America. The team at the Downtown Grand has worked hard to establish itself as a truly unique eSports destination.”
The current gaming laws in Nevada allow wagering on athletic sporting events but there are precise laws as of now governing the eSports betting industry. However the chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board had stated earlier that eSports betting can also be placed in the same category as sports betting and hence only small regulatory amendments would need to be made to the gaming law in the state.
William Hill discussed a possible merger of equals with Canadian based Amaya Inc in October 2016 but those discussions fell through when one of William Hill’s major shareholders objected towards the merger. The UK bookmaker then announced that it would continue to focus on its online offerings to provide the best value to its shareholders. Joe Asher, the company’s chief executive officer in the US stated that this new eSports offering is part of the company’ s commitment to be innovative and expand their offerings.