London firm taking bets on esports launches in New Jersey

April 4, 2022 GMT
FILE - Gamers compete during the Athens Online mega-lan gaming expo, hosted by eSports at the University of Georgia, in Athens, Ga, March 3, 2018. New Jersey's first company to take bets on competitive video games said it planned to begin full operations Monday, April 4, 2022, having completed a trial period for state regulators. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP, File)
FILE - Gamers compete during the Athens Online mega-lan gaming expo, hosted by eSports at the University of Georgia, in Athens, Ga, March 3, 2018. New Jersey's first company to take bets on competitive video games said it planned to begin full operations Monday, April 4, 2022, having completed a trial period for state regulators. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP, File)
FILE - Gamers compete during the Athens Online mega-lan gaming expo, hosted by eSports at the University of Georgia, in Athens, Ga, March 3, 2018. New Jersey's first company to take bets on competitive video games said it planned to begin full operations Monday, April 4, 2022, having completed a trial period for state regulators. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP, File)
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FILE - Gamers compete during the Athens Online mega-lan gaming expo, hosted by eSports at the University of Georgia, in Athens, Ga, March 3, 2018. New Jersey's first company to take bets on competitive video games said it planned to begin full operations Monday, April 4, 2022, having completed a trial period for state regulators. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP, File)
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FILE - Gamers compete during the Athens Online mega-lan gaming expo, hosted by eSports at the University of Georgia, in Athens, Ga, March 3, 2018. New Jersey's first company to take bets on competitive video games said it planned to begin full operations Monday, April 4, 2022, having completed a trial period for state regulators. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP, File)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey’s first company to take bets on competitive video games said it planned to begin full operations Monday, having completed a trial period for state regulators.

Esports Entertainment Group was approved Friday to end a testing period of “soft play” while New Jersey regulators evaluated its product.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement confirmed it had authorized the company to commence full operations. The company is affiliated with the license of Bally’s casino.

“We are pleased to have passed through the soft play period, which is a testament to all the hard work put in by our team over the past year,” said Grant Johnson, the company’s CEO. “As the first licensed esports-focused betting site in North America, we’re thrilled to fully launch the VIE.gg platform in New Jersey, one of the gold standard jurisdictions for sports wagering in the country.”

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The company is based in London and has offices in Hoboken, New Jersey, and in Malta. For now, it can only take bets on esports.

It will take bets on people playing games including Call of Duty, Overwatch, CS:GO, League of Legends and DOTA 2.

Johnson estimated betting on esports is expected to reach $205 billion by 2027.

The market research company Newzoo projects esports will generate $1.6 billion in revenue globally by 2024, up from just over $1 billion last year.

Esports is generating money for the hosts of events including tournaments and championships, but also in hotel room stays and food and beverage spending. Las Vegas has embraced it, building a 30,000 square-foot arena for esports in 2018.

New Jersey has been slower to embrace the activity, although individual casinos have held scattered tournaments.

Last year, New Jersey invested $200,000 to set up a center at Stockton University to help Atlantic City and the state become a national hub for esports.

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