West Virginia Proposes Bill to Legalize eSports Betting

    As legal sports betting continues on an upward trajectory in the US, West Virginia is looking to branch into another gambling vertical that's been receiving lots of attention in recent times – esports.

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    West Virginia Proposes Bill to Legalize eSports Betting

    West Virginia delegates introduced House Bill 4826 last week, which will permit e-sports betting in the state once approved. The bill will classify esports as a legitimate gambling game of skill.

    Leveraging the Prospects of eSports Betting

    eSports is a relatively new discipline. However, it has garnered a lot of interest worldwide, with an increasing number of players and viewers. It brings a new dimension to video gaming and sports betting by merging the two. eSports games are some of the most popular online games worldwide, including League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Rather than simply playing these games, esports betting allows gamers to live-stream professional teams battling it out in the virtual arena and place bets on the outcomes.

    Merely a niche sports market a few years ago, esports is now considered an industry of its own. And according to Allied Market Research, the market is expected to reach $4.75 billion by 2030. West Virginia supporters are looking to take advantage of the potential of this growing sector to increase state gambling revenue. They also seek to capture a new segment of the market as esports betting is most popular among younger gamers.

    Changes Proposed in the Bill

    The bill proposes an amendment of the Code of West Virginia in order to favor esports betting. It provides a new definition of esports, classifying it as an "electronic sport or competitive video game played as a game of skill for spectators."

    The bill also aims to categorize esports as a professional sport. The relevant provision reads,

    '"Sports event" or "sporting event" means any professional sport or athletic event, any collegiate sport or athletic event, motor race event, e-sports event, or any other special event authorized by the commission under this article."

    House Bill 4826 has received support from West Virginia Delegates Moore Capito, Bennett Queen, Steve Westfall, Shawn Fluharty, Clay Riley, and Daniel Linville. Although still in its early stages, the bill could move forward in a few weeks if it gathers enough support in the state. It’s been passed on to the House Finance Committee and is currently on schedule for further consideration.

    West Virginia is a trailblazer in the ongoing US legal sports betting trend. The Mountain State was one of the first states to approve legal sports betting in 2018 when PASPA was repealed. Online and retail wagering has since launched in the state, with residents able to bet on professional and collegiate sports at regulated sportsbooks.

    This latest venture into esports is also one of the first attempts within the US. DraftKings, Esports Technologies, Penn National Gaming, and more gaming companies are already actively involved in the industry. If West Virginia successfully sees the bill through, these operators are poised to begin offering betting solutions.

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