Esports makes its way to New Jersey in light of the volatile North American pro sports market

Especially with the lack of sports due to COVID-19, esports has become more popular than ever. New Jersey is now moving forward with a bill that would allow esports betting in the state.

The bill recently moved forward in the House, now will be sent to the Senate. As a state on the front edge of sports gaming, it seems that this bill might be passed soon.

“With online sports betting now legal in New Jersey, a large number of people already interested in this type of gaming and a lack of physical sporting events to bet on right now due to the pandemic, the time is right for us to expand legal wagering beyond traditional sports,” said Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling.

There have been leagues that thrive in arenas, but the positive has been that they can continue to play online during the virus. They don’t have the restrictions that physical sports have during this tough time.

Las Vegas has already gotten ahead of the game on esports. Players can now bet on League of Legends and Call of Duty in the state of Nevada.

College football is starting to look doubtful for the fall, so there isn’t a better time to grow and reach a broader audience.

Popularity of Esports

Televised esports events have happened far before the coronavirus. ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes, DisneyXD. The NFL Network and TBS are all among networks that have broadcasted events.

CBS even broadcasted Candy Crush Saga and averaged 4 million viewers.

YouTube reported that 1.1 billion hours of esports were watched in the first quarter of 2020. That is a 13% increase in viewers compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.

NBA players even got in on the action when they weren’t able to play. Some of the top players got together and played a televised NBA 2K tournament.

The Audience is Growing

The popularity of esports continues to grow, and it’s not because of COVID-19. However, it has sped up the demand and allowed these games to reach a broader audience.

1.9 billion people are aware of esports compared to 1.1 billion in 2016. Talented young people are starting to make real money playing these games. Sponsors have begun to enter the field, making some wealthy gamers.

“A McKinsey report said in the U.S., there are over 20 million esports fans, 83% are male and 84% are younger than 35. Among U.S. men under age 25, 38% are esports fans and on average watch nearly one hour of esports each day,” reads a Forbes article. “Furthermore, 10% of esports fans report watching over 20 hours per week, although only 13% responded that esports is the only sport they watch. Among 18-34 viewers, the League of Legends is now the third most popular professional sports league after the NBA and NFL.”

It will be interesting to watch this niche grow and just how much of the sports betting market that it can gain.

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