UK bookmaker and online betting giant William Hill made history this past weekend when it started accepting eSports bets at the Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
The sportsbook is operated by the U.S. division of William Hill and it is the first time that wagering on eSports has been offered in the state of Nevada and in the United States.
The bets were taken for the IEM Oakland eSports event held last weekend at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, featuring the highly popular video game League of Legends. The landmark launch happened after William Hill and partner Downtown Grand Las Vegas received approval from the Governor’s Gaming Policy Committee to accept bets for the event.
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said that the approval was a major step in placing Nevada on the path to become the top destination for esports wagering, adding that the fledgling eSports industry in the state would continue to look to include the latest in technology and innovations in the industry.
Amidst the rising popularity of eSports, betting on such games or tournaments has been seen as a natural extension of sports betting. Under current gaming laws, Nevada allows betting on athletic competitions. The chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board believes that eSports betting can be put in the same category as athletic sports and hence only minor regulatory adjustments were required to legalize eSports wagering.
Seth Schorr, Chief Executive Officer of Fifth Street Gaming and Chairman of the Downtown Grand Casino said that the approval was an excellent example of the industry working with the government to achieve a result that will have a positive impact Nevada’s gaming revenue. Schorr stated that he was proud that Downtown Grand Casino would be the first facility to offer legal eSports wagering in the U.S.
Downtown Grand had opened a dedicated lounge for eSports earlier this year and has been holding weekly competitions for games like Street Fighter, Madden, and Mortal Combat. William Hill said that the launch was a measure of the company’s commitment to provide gaming customers with latest innovations.
In a statement Joe Asher William Hill U.S. Chief Executive Officer said
We are excited to partner with Seth Schorr and the Downtown Grand to become the first sports book in America to offer legal wagering on eSports. A lot of work has gone into bringing eSports to the Nevada betting market and we thank the Governor and his Gaming Policy Committee, the Gaming Control Board and Seth for all of their efforts to keep Nevada at the forefront of the gaming industry