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New Jersey bans esports betting with new, unclear legislation

New Jersey quietly banned esports betting earlier this week with a new bill containing unclear language over what is considered sports betting, and if esports falls under that umbrella.

New Jersey quietly banned esports betting earlier this week after the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) which, until May 14 2018, outlawed sports betting nationwide. 

As reported by Compete, New Jersey lawmakers had passed a law allowing for sports betting at casinos and racetracks in 2014, but the law couldn’t go into effect until the Supreme Court overturned the PASPA. When PASPA was overturned last month, New Jersey legislators quickly began drafting a new bill

The draft, which initially didn't mention esports, includes a ban on some forms of sports betting. Between the May 14 draft and the June 4 vote, esports were included. “A prohibited sports event includes all high school sports events but does not include international sports events in which persons under age 18 make up a minority of the participants.”

However the language surrounding the legislation isn't very clear. The updated bill writes that "a prohibited sports event includes all high school sports events, electronic sports, and competitive video games but does not include international sports events in which persons under age 18 make up a minority of the participants.”

If the June 2018 version of the bill becomes law, which includes esports in the clause about prohibited sports bets, it could mean that esports betting can happen on a case-by-case basis. New Jersey lawmakers did not clarify to Compete about the lack of transparency around the language of the new bill. 

"I think the clause around electronic sports and video games was added as a last minute item—and there is really no clarity around it," Unikrn’s (an esports betting company) CEO Rahul Sood tells Compete. "With that said, any type of language seems completely counter to what such regulation is designed to do: protect consumers."

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