New Jersey Authorizes eNASCAR iRacing Sports Betting

  • iRacing had to be specifically allowed because it is considered an eSport
  • Professional NASCAR drivers and iRacing pros competing in races
  • iRacing is near-perfect simulation of real auto racing
  • First three races have set eSports television records
Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach, Florida
Gamblers in New Jersey can now bet on the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Classified as an eSport

NASCAR iRacing is quickly gaining acceptance as a valid sport on which to bet, as evidenced by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement’s (DGE) inclusion of it this week as an approved league/event for sports wagering. Officially, it is the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series that has been added to the list.

individual eSports must be specifically permitted by the DGE

The iRacing Series does not, however, fall under the “Racing” category. Instead, it is categorized as an “eSport,” as the competitions take place in a racing simulator, not on an actual track in physical vehicles. Unlike other sports, individual eSports must be specifically permitted by the DGE.

Nevada previously authorized NASCAR iRacing betting, in time for this past weekend’s race. It, too, does not classify the competition as professional sporting event, even though professional NASCAR drivers and professional iRacing drivers participate.

As close to real racing as you can get right now

With the world in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, most sports are on hiatus. Hence, the rise of eNASCAR iRacing. In its simplest form, iRacing is a video game, but it is much more than something you load on XBOX Live (in fact, it only runs on a Windows PC). It is the deepest auto racing simulation on the market.

Dozens of real racetracks have been laser scanned down to every precise detail. Cars have been programmed with physics engines so that they handle like the real thing, including tire wear and fuel consumption. During one broadcast, legendary racer Jeff Gordon said that other than the lack of G-forces, using the iRacing sim felt exactly like the real thing.

The athletes in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational include a mix of current NASCAR pros, retired drivers like Bobby Labonte, and iRacing eSports pros. Some competitors use a regular gaming PC setup on a desk with a steering wheel, while others have had custom cockpit rigs constructed that cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Television numbers lap the field

So far, the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational has proven to be extremely popular. The first event, at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 22nd, drew 903,000 viewers on the FS1 cable network.

The next race at digital Texas Motor Speedway was the first to be aired on network television, showing both on FOX and FS1. Its 1,339,000 viewers set the record for eSports on television, breaking the previous race’s record.

the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational has proven to be extremely popular

This past weekend’s race at computerized Bristol Motor Speedway attracted 1,179,000 viewers on FOX and FS1. In a time when almost everyone is at home, it was the second-most watched sports broadcast during the weekend. In the key 18-49-year old demographic, it took the top spot.

There is no eNASCAR race this coming weekend because of the Easter holiday.