London firm taking bets on esports launches in New Jersey

Esports Entertainment Group estimates betting on esports is expected to reach $205bn by 2027.

New Jersey’s first company to take bets on competitive video games said it planned to begin full operations Monday, having completed a trial period for regulators in the northeastern US state.

Esports Entertainment Group was approved Friday to end a testing period of “soft play” while New Jersey regulators evaluated its product.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement confirmed it had authorised the company to commence full operations. The company is affiliated with the licence of Bally’s casino.

“We are pleased to have passed through the soft play period, which is a testament to all the hard work put in by our team over the past year,” said Grant Johnson, the company’s CEO. “As the first licenced esports-focused betting site in North America, we’re thrilled to fully launch the platform in New Jersey, one of the gold standard jurisdictions for sports wagering in the country.”

The company is based in London and has offices in Hoboken, New Jersey, and in Malta. For now, it can only take bets on esports.

It will take bets on people playing games including Call of Duty, Overwatch, CS:GO, League of Legends and Dota 2.

Johnson estimated that betting on esports is expected to reach $205bn by 2027.

The market research company Newzoo projects esports will generate $1.6bn in revenue globally by 2024, up from just over $1bn last year.

Esports is generating money for the hosts of events including tournaments and championships, but also in hotel room stays and food and beverage spending. Las Vegas has embraced it, building a 2,787sq m (30,000sq ft) arena for esports in 2018.

New Jersey has been slower to embrace the activity, although individual casinos have held scattered tournaments.

Last year, New Jersey invested $200,000 to set up a centre at Stockton University to help Atlantic City and the state become a national hub for esports.

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