With much of the regular sports calendar shut down for several months this year, esports had a global moment.
Gaming was already big, but without traditional sports, esports grew in gambling stature with bettors looking for something to wager on.
Esports was not included in the initial launch of Michigan sports betting this March. However, the competitions have made their way to the state’s wagering menu at one locale.
However, there are no immediate plans to add esports to the wider betting audience.
Call of Duty, Overwatch markets posted at Little River
On Thursday afternoon, Little River Casino Resort had both Call of Duty and Overwatch markets posted on its Bet-Slip Builder system. Using the internet site, fans can build bets from anywhere, though they have to actually place the bet at the Manistee retail sportsbook.
There were no esports markets listed Monday afternoon, although 32,072 bets were offered in a variety of sports. Of those offerings, 26,863 were soccer wagers.
Little River opened the River Rock Sportsbook and Grill on July 17. The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians partnered with Rush Street Interactive to launch BetRivers in Michigan when online gambling launches, perhaps this fall.
Jonnie Sam, who manages the Little River sportsbook, said the amount of esports bets has fallen as traditional sports return.
“We do get some from time to time a younger crowd betting esports,” Sam said. “A lot of the younger customer base know who each one of the esports players and teams are because they play those games.
“We are getting on average bigger bets than we were expecting. which has been a nice and pleasant surprise.”
Esports needs approval from Michigan Gaming Control Board
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) regulates the three Detroit sportsbooks. Accordingly, the MGCB approves the types of sports and markets that can be offered.
Similarly, online offerings from each of the state’s tribal casinos will need approval, as they will be wagered on from outside of tribal property.
However, retail sportsbooks on tribal land are exempt from approval from the MGCB.
That’s why tribal casinos can offer sports such as cricket, tennis, and rugby, which are not offered by Detroit’s Greektown Casino-Hotel, MGM Grand Detroit, and MotorCity Casino.
Mary Kay Bean, spokesperson for MGCB, said there’s no timeline for adding approved sports to the menu. She said the board has not received a request to offer esports from a licensed operator.
“The Board will need to review a request to determine whether the event fits within the requirements of the Lawful Sports Betting Act and administrative rules before approving it,” Bean wrote in an email.
Esports slowly inching into legal betting markets
During the pandemic, esports betting had an uptick in action.
In April, the Nevada Gaming Control Board opened markets for League Of Legends, Overwatch, and Call of Duty.
Each event still needs to be individually approved by the board.
Esports betting is more complicated than traditional sports. Match results are more easily manipulated by players, who often are minors and not multi-millionaires like pro athletes.
Many gambling operators are limiting the size of bets for esports.
Esports gambling company gets access in New Jersey
In New Jersey, legislation appears destined to permanently add esports to the state’s wagering options.
It appears so imminent that an esports-focused online gambling company recently partnered with a casino company to acquire an online skin for access.
Esports Entertainment Group, Inc., a publicly-traded company, entered a multi-year agreement for access from Twin River Worldwide Holdings, Inc.