Pennsylvania is one of the leading sports betting states, with nearly $19 billion in hane since wagering on sports launched in November 2018.
Now, there’s legislation in the works to bolster the market by allowing both retail and online sportsbooks to take wagers on esports.
According to a legislative memo released Friday in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, a forthcoming bill would authorize wagering on the video game events.
“The citizens of Pennsylvania are 54 percent stakeholders in the Pennsylvania gaming industry due to our stringent regulations and citizen-focused tax rates,” the memo said. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, online gaming has increased and Pennsylvania needs to be certain that our gaming industry is properly positioned so as not to lose its share of the market to surrounding states.”
Last year, the esports industry was valued at $1.1 billion worldwide. In the coming years, it is estimated that the esports industry has the potential to generate nearly $1.8 billion in economic activity. Philadelphia is currently building a multi-million dollar facility strictly dedicated to esports gaming that will attract worldwide events, the first of itsdl kind in the United States."
The plan is backed by Rep. Ed Neilson, a Democrat from Philadelphia.
“To capitalize on this up-and-coming industry, in 2021, New Jersey passed legislation to legalize gambling on esport sporting events, such as video game tournaments. Similar legislation is being considered in other states. Pennsylvania should quickly add esports to our gaming portfolio, bolstering our economy and the attendant tax revenue. Therefore, I am introducing legislation to legalize betting on esports in Pennsylvania.”
Esports, short for electronic sports, is a form of video game competition. Esports often takes the form of organized, multiplayer video game competitions, particularly between professional players, individually or as teams.
Although organized competitions have long been a part of video game culture, these were primarily between amateurs until the late 2000s, when participation by professional gamers and spectatorship in these events through live streaming saw a significant surge in popularity.
Popular esports franchises include League of Legends and Counter-Strike.