With live sports being put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic, sportsbooks continue to search for new ways to bring in money. This shutdown of sports has also seen massive growth in esports and virtual sports, and professional sports leagues are trying to find a way to bring content to their fans.
NASCAR has developed an iRacing game that can now be offered by sportsbooks in both Nevada and New Jersey.
All betting is limited to the 2020 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, which conducts races each week, just like the live events. The iRacing Pro Invitational Series features real drivers and real tracks.
NASCAR has also developed the eNASCAR Coca Cola Racing Series, but this features simulation drivers. Competitors compete from the comfort of their own homes, but all racing is done on the NASCAR iRacing platform.
The iRacing Pro Invitational Series has been extremely successful and wildly popular up to this point. Last week’s event that took place at Bristol was viewed by more than 1.1 million people.
The event was seen through programming on both FOX and FS1. It was the third-most watched sporting event last weekend behind WWE Friday Night Smackdown and the Beverly Hills Dog Show.
Sportsbooks were quick to jump at the chance to take bets on the iRacing Pro Invitational Series, but they needed approval from the states where they are regulated. As of Saturday, only Nevada and New Jersey have given approval to take bets on this event.
Allowed To Offer Bets
The Nevada Gaming Control Board announced earlier this week that sportsbooks can offer bets, citing the “other events” portion of the current sports betting law. Nevada does not view this new event as a sport, but they were willing to allow sportsbooks to open it up for betting.
Nevada has also recently legalized betting on another form of esports. Counter Strike: Global Offensive is one of the most popular esports in the world, and it has brought in plenty of action in Nevada.
New Jersey also doesn’t classify iRacing as a sport, but they file it under the esports category of their law. The New Jersey Division of Gaming recently added Nascar iRacing Pro Invitational Series to their list of approved esports events.
It is currently the only form of esports that are allowed in the state, but that number is expected to grow. The New Jersey Division of Gaming must review each esport before it can be added to the list.
Lawmakers in New Jersey proposed a bill that would have allowed betting on esports without the approval of the New Jersey Division of Gaming. That bill never made it out of committee, and another bill was not introduced.
There have already been three different iRacing Pro Invitational Series events take place, and three different drivers have won an event. Denny Hamlin was the winner of the first event on March 22, held at the Virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Timmy Hill was the winner at the O’Reilly Auto Parts 125 event held on March 29. The event was held at the virtual Texas Motor Speedway.
At the Bristol Motor Speedway, William Byron came away with the win at the Food City Showdown on April 5.
There are currently three more races scheduled, with the hope that NASCAR will return to their normal operations on May 10. FOX and FS1 will continue to air the iRacing events, and they can also be streamed through the Fox Sports App.
With almost all of the top drivers taking part in the series, this does provide a unique way for fans to interact with their favorite drivers.