Boyd To Launch Nevada Esports Platform As Regulatory Realignment Nears

July 20, 2022
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As a policy advisory committee moves closer to defining how esports should be regulated in Nevada, a senior executive for Boyd Gaming has said the company is strongly exploring offering esports along with its other race and sports-betting options in the largest U.S. gaming market.

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As a policy advisory committee moves closer to defining how esports should be regulated in Nevada, a senior executive for Boyd Gaming has said the company is strongly exploring offering esports along with its other race and sports-betting options in the largest U.S. gaming market.

“There are a lot of things, even though we may launch under a different brand, that we draw on from our current operations of race and sports,” Eric Bowers, vice president of innovation for Boyd, told the Nevada Esports Technical Advisory Committee (ETAC) on Monday (July 18).

Bowers told the committee he believes any regulations addressing esports in Nevada should include multiple wagering options, including pre-match, in-play bets and parimutuel wagering.

Bowers also urged the esports committee to consider responsible gaming requirements that mirror traditional race and sports books, no mandates that limit official league data to a single source, and reasonable volume requirements for field trials.

“These are just some of the things we are looking for. We really need in-play and parimutuel wagering,” Bowers told the committee that serves under the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

“Our sportsbooks love parimutuel setups in any sports-betting vertical. It’s low risk, you take a rake, and quite frankly, most of the time it really works out for the operator.”

Bowers testified that Boyd plans to focus on a mobile esports betting application first, followed by a website, allowing the casino operator to integrate its current offerings of cashless wagering and loyalty rewards into the app.

“We are focused on mobile first … because of this being a launch for customer acquisition,” he added. “Even though this may be launched as a standalone app it is very much tied to customer acquisition conversion into our core online products.”

Bowers added that Boyd will not necessarily host the esports platform but is looking for a partner to do that, similar to the decision the company made to partner with FanDuel and IGT for mobile sports betting and online gaming.

“That model works for us,” he said.

Bowers told the committee that Boyd’s objectives for getting into esports were to have access to some of the largest catalogues of server data available today, including of the major video game titles, along with access to official data for in-play and parimutuel wagers.

The committee, which meets quarterly, is formulating regulatory proposals to oversee the integrity of wagers on esports competitions in Nevada.

During Monday’s three-hour meeting, the committee also heard presentations on the creation, distribution and use of official league data for wagering on esports competitions, the integrity of official data, and how betting lines are used for wagering on the competitions.

Bowers reminded the committee that there is a marketing and cross-industry relationship that is important with the operator and larger game publishers.

“I can’t tell you how important it is to hear from a Nevada licensed operator about what you want,” said Seth Schorr, committee member and CEO of Fifth Street Gaming. “The good news is you want esports.”

Schorr welcomed Bowers’ comment on marketing relationships, noting that the committee will have to consider how it regulates those relationships.

“It is one thing to have all of the technical platforms and regulations … but marketing is the tricky part,” Schorr said. “In my opinion, sportsbook operator X that is working with game publisher Y and streaming on Twitch, they are crushing it on from a marketing perspective. That’s how you … can drive meaningful revenue.”

Wagering is already legal but restricted in Nevada.

Under current regulations, esports are treated as so-called “other events”, which means they are subject to event-specific regulatory approval, rather than traditional sports that are generally automatically eligible for wagering.

That process has limited the growth of wagering on esports in Nevada.

Brett Abarbanel, a committee member and director of research at the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ International Gaming Institute, asked Bowers if Boyd believes esports fit under the state's Regulation 22 governing sports betting or whether esports need their own set of unique regulations.

“We see it as fitting under Reg. 22 from a regulation perspective,” Bowers said. “From a marketing, branding and launch perspective, it may need its own channel.”

Bowers added that the company wants to launch an esports app separate from its Boyd Sports app, “because esports will get lost” among the options offered within the sportsbook platform.

“Unless it is more visible to the customers as its own channel, we don’t think it will do it justice. It is going to get the visibility it needs to be successful.”

Before any changes can be made to state gaming regulations to allow for easier wagering on video game competitions, the technical advisory committee needs to recommend regulations for esports competitions, and those rules would have to be adopted by both the Nevada Gaming Control Board and Nevada Gaming Commission.

Schorr told VIXIO GamblingCompliance on Tuesday (July 19) the committee will have a special meeting in August to discuss how esports fit into Regulation 22 and to create a whitelist of tournament organizers, whether third-party or the game publishers themselves.

“Based on the outcome of that meeting, ETAC could potentially make a recommendation before the fourth-quarter board meeting but it’s hard to say for sure at the moment,” Schorr said in an email.

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