Regulation of eSports Gambling gains momentum

More jurisdictions are choosing to regulate gambling on eSports as this popular wagering activity gains momentum both live and online.

Gambling on eSports Regulation worldwideThe eSports industry is young, but it’s budding fast, thanks to its prevalence in both land-based and digital realms. Comparable to traditional sports betting, eSports gambling takes place on non-athletic, electronic events – particularly competitive video gaming tournaments.

In May of this year, key members of the global gaming law community got together for a Roundtable on eSports. The minutes of that discussion were published by earlier this week by Gaming Law Review, shedding a great deal of light on the push for specific eSports betting regulations.

Panelists in the discussion include:

André Wilsenach: Executive director of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas International Center for Gaming Regulation.

Steve Brennan: Chief executive of the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission.

A.G. Burnett: Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Nicholas Khoo: Co‐founder and chairman of the Singapore Cybersports and Online Gaming Association.

Ian Smith: Integrity commissioner of the Esports Integrity Coalition (Bristol, UK).

Status of Current eSports Gambling Regulation

Burnett described Nevada’s stance on eSports regulation as active. Last year, the Gaming Policy Committee reviewed the matter and agreed that betting on eSports falls under the “other events” section of Regulation 22, which regulates race book and sports pool activities.

“In Nevada, what we have done up to this date is allow wagering in a sports betting type of fashion on certain esports events,” said Burnett. Establishments offering such wagers are required to “meet certain criteria that satisfies us as regulators that it is going to be judged appropriately, it will be governed fairly, the results will be adequately determined and made available.”

As moderator, Wilsenach asked Mr. Brennan for the Isle of Man’s position on eSports. He noted that their regulatory make-up is “not too dissimilar” from that of Nevada’s.

Some of their larger online sportsbook operators previously sought permission to provide betting on eSports. After reviewing the topic, the Isle of Man Gaming Commission gave them the heads up.

“Our approach is to ensure an appropriate risk evaluation has been undertaken,” said Brennan. Unlike Nevada, however, the risk falls upon the operator, not the regulatory body. “We put the onus on the license holder to make sure that they have done the risk evaluation of the markets and the tournaments that they are looking to offer wagering on.”

UK to Regulate Gambling on eSports

Mr. Smith was proud to announce that the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has agreed to sign off on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding eSports betting. The commission is keen on regulation, but also realizes that some of its offshore iGaming licensees are already providing the service.

Having dealt one-on-one with the UKGC in getting to that point, Smith relayed his discernment of the commission’s stance. In his words, their message to eSports operators is to “sort yourselves out and behave sensibly with regard to betting and the element of chance in what you do or we will come looking more deeply at you.”

Hope for eSports Betting Regulation in Singapore

Mr. Khoo’s role in the meeting was to gather more information on successful forms of regulation. Wagering on eSports is not currently lawful in Singapore, but the goal of his organization is to change that. Working with various stakeholders and government organizations, Khoo explained the role of the Singapore Cybersports and Online Gaming Association (SCOGA).

“We are a nonprofit that looks to lead and develop the esports ecosystem in Singapore,” said Khoo. He describe Singapore as a nation that is still in the “very early days” of eSports development. Existing laws revolving around traditional sports betting are still very limited.

“I think there is a lot of learning, and a lot of studying going on, especially from what other jurisdictions are doing,” he said. Khoo believes it is just as important to “understand the impact of not regulating or not getting involved.”9999

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