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March 08, 2021

A regulator could pave the way for standardized esports betting

First US esports regulatory body could be created by Nevada's upcoming bill

First US esports regulatory body could be created by Nevada's upcoming bill
Nevada Sen. Ben Kieckhefer said esports regulation could provide “greater stability and security” for the emerging, yet already popular, industry to grow in Nevada and entice esports leagues to host their competitions in Las Vegas.
United States | 02/22/2021

Nevada Sen. Ben Kieckhefer said he will introduce legislation to create a state oversight group that works similar to the Nevada Athletic Commission. It is seen as a means of bringing visitors back to Las Vegas in a post-pandemic world.

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evada Sen. Ben Kieckhefer is drafting legislation to create what he believes would be the country’s first government regulatory body for esports.

The Republican lawmaker plans the creation of a “light touch” state oversight group similar to the Nevada Athletic Commission, which regulates combat sports such as mixed martial arts and boxing through licensure and sanctions, Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. He said Nevada has the opportunity to support its most important industries, gaming and hospitality, and establish itself as a global leader in esports. “I think the general consensus now is that the time has come for something like this,” Kieckhefer said.

The bill text is not yet public, and Kieckhefer said the draft will be ready to introduce during the 81st legislative session “hopefully sooner rather than later.” The session began on Feb. 1, and the deadline to introduce the bill is in mid-March.

He explained that esports regulation could provide “greater stability and security” for the emerging, yet already popular, industry to grow in Nevada and entice esports leagues to host their competitions in Las Vegas. Tournament attendees include younger people who typically have been less interested than older generations in gambling.

Kieckhefer said a similar blueprint to the athletic commission’s “success stories” with UFC and other MMA events could ensure “clean and fair” esports competitions and, in turn, bolster viewership and revenue opportunities for the state’s licensing groups.

The idea of an esports regulatory body was one former Gaming Control Board chair A.G. Burnett floated to state government officials a few years ago, but it didn’t gain much traction at the time, he said. He revisited the idea with Kieckhefer, also the director of client relations at Nevada-based business law firm McDonald Carano, where Burnett is a partner. He said it makes sense to explore the idea now as a means of bringing visitors back to Las Vegas in a post-pandemic world.

Forming a regulatory commission that registers players, establishes competitive rules and levels the playing field would further legitimize esports as an industry, Burnett said, likening its potential to “the glory days of boxing in Las Vegas.” The venue, lodging, food, beverage and entertainment infrastructure already exists.

“This is about adding events to Las Vegas and adding flights and bringing people back,” Burnett said. “It’s pretty clear that unless the convention business and the airlines come back, then Las Vegas will continue to struggle.”

Though Kieckhefer emphasizes his bill wouldn’t touch gambling, Milo Ocampo, founder of 8-Bit Esports, sees a regulatory commission as “the best possible step” toward standardized esports betting.

Nevada could become a “leader” in esports by establishing a commission, according to Chris Grove, an analyst with California-based research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming.
 

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