A first of its kind
Esports Entertainment Group (EEG) has held the first-ever skill-based betting esports tournament in the United States. The tournament took place over the weekend at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City. Hundreds of gamers took part in the Madden NFL 22 event, competing for $9,000 in prizes. The event also doubled as the launch of the new LANDuel skill-based esports betting platform.
every player to get $25 in free bets to wager on themselves
Players had the option to place wagers on themselves for each of the tournament rounds. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement had given the green light for every player to get $25 in free bets to wager on themselves. If the bets were successful, the player could then withdraw the funds as real money.
Attracting a new audience to casinos
EEG CEO Grant Johnson believes that LANDuel is a unique offering thanks to the “handicapping” system it uses to match up players who have similar skill levels. Johnson said that the unique system means that skill-based betting can be safer and more accurate.
EEG entered into a partnership with the Hard Rock in December and the two parties have plans to hold similar esports events in the future. Johnson thinks that events of this kind bring a younger audience to casinos, a demographic that the industry is largely struggling to attract. He said: “In that room, there’s hundreds of 20-something-year-olds, which they’re not getting right now.”
Growing popularity of esports-related wagering
In addition to the hundreds of people participating in the event over the weekend, thousands more were watching through online streams. Chris McFarland is a prominent Madden streamer and has thousands of followers on YouTube and Twitch.
McFarland welcomed getting the option to place bets throughout the weekend’s tournament, saying “Betting is a huge deal in esports, especially Madden, because it comes from the basis of real sports. People love to bet on their games.”
The New Jersey-based EEG originally acquired the LANDuel esports betting platform in June 2021. EEG has also soft-launched its esports fixed-odds betting site in New Jersey. The trial tun of its VIE.gg site began in January and it was the first regulated esports betting firm to launch in the US market. The operator has signed numerous partnership deals with major US sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Baltimore Ravens.