With live sports shut down for an indefinite period of time, sportsbooks all across the United States are searching for different events to feature on their sportsbooks. Esports and virtual sports are two growing and emerging industries, and the offer sportsbooks a chance to make some money during the coronavirus pandemic.
The problem is that most of these games are not regulated in various states, including Nevada, and sportsbooks were not able to offer betting. That has changed in the last few weeks, especially when it comes to some of the most popular forms of esports.
Sportsbooks in Nevada have been begging state lawmakers to legalize more esports competitions, the Nevada Gaming Control Board has responded in a favorable way. Just this week, four new esports leagues were approved by the board, and they can now be offered by sportsbooks all over the state.
The four new esports games that were approved were Overwatch League, League of Legends European Championship, North American League of Legends Championship, and 2020 Call of Duty League. These four esports join the likes of Dota 2 and Counter Strike: Global Offensive, which had previously been legalized by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Esports leagues work in much of the same way as traditional professional sports leagues in the United States, but the games are played on a virtual platform. Individual players or teams are competing against an opponent, and almost all of the leagues have a final tournament to determine the league champion.
Sportsbooks have been hesitant to offer betting on esports in the past due to the potential of match fixing, but sportsbooks are now just looking for anything that can make them some money. Here is a quick breakdown of each of the four new esports leagues that were approved in Nevada.
The Overwatch League was founded in 2017, with the inaugural season taking place in 2018. The game is developed by Blizzard Entertainment, and it was the first professional esports league.
There is a regular season followed by a series of playoffs, and the league operates in much of the same way as a normal North American professional sports league. This is a first-person shooter game that puts teams of six up against one another, with a major cash prize awarded to the league champion each year.
League of Legends European Championship
There are currently 10 teams participating in the League of Legends European Championship, and this league was founded in 2019. This league only takes place during the spring and summer, with a round-robin format taking place before the playoffs begin.
Only the top six teams make the playoffs each year. Riot Games is the developer and producer of this game, which was released in 2009. There have been several different variations of this league since 2013, but they followed the model set by the Overwatch League to establish this professional organization.
North American League of Legends Championship
The North American League of Legends Championship Series works the same way as the European league, but all of the teams are based out of the United States or Canada. There are still 10 teams that compete for the championship every single year, with the season being split between the spring and summer.
2020 Call of Duty League
The Call of Duty League was founded in January of this year, and this is currently the first year of operation. There are 12 teams currently competing for the championship of this league, playing the Call of Duty game that was created by Activision. Playstation 4 is the official platform of the Call of Duty League, even though the game is available on several other gaming consoles.