Betting On E-sports Approved, But Not Through Casinos

Larchwood, Iowa (RI) — The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission met this past week at Grand Falls Casino and Golf Resort near Larchwood. Among other items on their agenda, the commission decided to approve betting on E-sports through sports contests — but due to a legal issue — not through the state’s casinos.

Draft-Kings spokesman Chris Cippola asked the commission to approve E-sport wagering through his company’s contests.

(as said)”E-sports are organized multiplayer video game competitions in which competitors from different teams compete against each other in tournaments and leagues — in which participants exhibit elite physical talent and skill,” according to Cippola.

Cippola says E-sports have many of the same characteristics as regular sports.

(as said)”Professional players receive lucrative salaries, endorsements and prize money and teams are sponsored by Fortune 500 companies,” he says. “E-sports competitions have filled the world’s largest sporting arenas and are widely viewed on an international level via popular streaming mediums like Twitch and YouTube.”

He cited one example of a popular E-sports.

(as said)”Rocket League is a competitive video game where players drive vehicles that compete in a soccer match,” he explains, “It is cars playing soccer that are controlled by human participants.”

The commissioners approved the request to allow sports betting on games involving E-sports. They were then asked by Iowa Gaming Association president Wes Ehrecke to approve the same for casinos and their sports betting parlors.

(as said)”We believe that E-sports clearly fits well in this category for casino sports books to offer wager options on these events. They have a sanctioning governing body — the World E-sports Association for the national level, a national association for college E-sports at the collegiate level,” Ehrecke says.

However, Assistant Attorney General Jeff Peterzalek told commissioners that wagering on sports contests and actual sports are governed in separate sections of the law — and the language doesn’t match,

(as said)”What you just approved in the prior agenda item wasn’t because E-sports are a sport or an authorized sporting event. It was because they are a simulated game or contest — which is expressly allowed in 99-E — but there is no such language in 99-F,” according to Peterzalek.

He says the sports betting definition is very specific and doesn’t include E-sports.

(as said)”It does not meet the definition of authorized sporting events. I would also note that the definition of authorized sporting events expressly excludes — excludes fantasy sports as defined in chapter 99-E,” he says. “It doesn’t meet the other definitions of professional sporting events, international sporting events, or any of the other definitions that would be needed.”

The issue failed after no one made a motion on it. Peterzalek says the casinos could petition the I-R-G-C for a legal opinion on sports betting on E-sports as one option.



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