Analysis

Esports Entertainment Vie-s for NJ betting foothold

Esports betting in the U.S. might still be an activity spoken about more often than actually participated in – but Esports Entertainment is hoping to change that.

Esports Entertainment and its esports-betting offshoot Vie.gg remains on the tarmac in New Jersey where it has applied for a license.

Though esports remains the company’s primary focus, it is alive to the concept of cross-sell.

To that end, last year it bought the previously UK-facing Argyll Entertainment and its sports-betting brands SportNation and RedZone.bet.

Then just last week, it also acquired the Maltese-licensed Lucky Dino for an estimated $30m. That deal also comes with a platform attached.

Foothold

The company hopes to launch operations in New Jersey in the first quarter of next year. 

Jeff Cohen, VL for Strategy and IR, says that Esports Entertainment intends to offer both traditional sports and casino in New Jersey.

But esports is the focus and could be the key to grabbing a foothold in what is now an extremely competitive market.

New Jersey is the most gaming-friendly state on the Wedge Index. This is not surprising given it is soon likely to be the first state to break the $1bn a month handle barrier.

“We believe the bettors that we are targeting are not currently using the traditional operators,” says Cohen.

“We believe esports fans want an authentic platform that offers a robust array of lines on the most tournaments and matches possible.”

Next generation

Much is made in esports circles about the extent to which the audience is a younger demographic to other gambling audiences.

Recent commentary from Golden Nugget Online Gaming suggested the average age of the traditional online sports-betting and gaming audience was 42. This compares with 57 for land-based gaming customers in Atlantic City.

The assumption with esports-betting is that it is much younger still, with the average age of an esports bettor likely in the 20s.

As much with the regulators as with the audience, Cohen says the company is attempting to get people as comfortable with esports-betting as they have previously been persuaded with traditional sports betting.

“There is always an element of evangelism and teaching that must be done,” he says.

But he notes that the first stage of the pandemic brough esports much more to the fore which is a help.

Next steps

This will also count when it comes to branching out into further states. Cohen says the process of evaluation is underway.

We are using our EGL tournament platform as an analytical tool to assess which states have the greatest potential for us to enter with our Vie.gg platform,” he says.

“The expansion does not depend largely on the regulation of esports betting. 

“We are confident that as states look to legalize traditional sports betting, they will also see the benefit in legalizing esports betting as it is a large and expanding vertical.

We are sure to hear more of Vie.gg and esports-betting generally in the year ahead. That generation gap will need to be breached and it might be that esports holds the key.

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Scott Longley

Scott Longley has been a journalist since the early noughties covering personal finance, sport and the gambling industry. He has worked for a number of publications including Investor's Week, Bloomberg Money, Football First, EGR and GamblingCompliance.com. He now writes for online and print titles across a wide range of sectors.

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