Bets began with the recent International Extreme Masters Oakland event in which elite League of Legends players contested a $100,000 prize pool.
William Hill, a bookmaker based in the United Kingdom with a successful online casino and sportsbook operation outside the US, has partnered with the Downtown Grand Las Vegas casino in order to become the first provider of esports betting in the state of Nevada and indeed the United States.
Sports betting and esports gambling in Nevada
Prior to this William Hill deal, gaming laws in Nevada allowed bets on athletic, traditional sporting events. However, there were also separate laws concerning the booming industry of esports betting, which has been predicted to exceed $20 billion by 2020.
Now, however, the Nevada Gaming Control Board has declared that esports betting can be categorised alongside and equal to sports betting, meaning that minor regulatory amendments were all that was required in order to allow esports betting in Nevada.
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“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,” said Downtown Grand Casino Chairman Seth Schorr.
“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.”
About William Hill
William Hill is one of the largest bookmakers in the world, having been founded in the UK in 1934 and reporting 2015 revenue of more than £1.59 billion ($1.98 billion).
William Hill employs 16,000 people in its betting shops and corporate offices, which are based in Leeds and Gibraltar.
The company operates more than 2,300 betting shops in the UK and Ireland, making them the largest UK gambling operator with a market share of more than 25 percent in the UK.
William Hill had recently discussed a possible merger with Canadian gaming giants Amaya, the owners of PokerStars. However, these discussions fell through and no deal was inked.
William Hill said that it would continue to focus on its online offerings, with the company’s US CEO Joe Asher stating that this new deal is part of that commitment.