Martin Licka: At the crossroads of esports and betting

Martin Lika, Entain's Senior Vice President of US Regulatory and Responsible Gaming, delves into the world of esports as the sector grows in popularity with bookmakers around the world. ...

West of Mar Sara, 25 March 2506, 12:45 Zulu Time: An abandoned platoon of Terran foot soldiers, supported by a few remaining steam-powered vultures and a siege tank that had lost mobility, defended its sector from a swarm of zerglings. Ultralisks and Aerial Mutalisks. Despair creeps in.

To make matters worse, there are rumors that the Protoss Commanders, who were allies in the fight against the hordes of zerg, closed their warp gates and flew to their home parts of the galaxy ...

Mostly unbeknownst to me, I was once a gamer. Without an internet connection at home, I went to my dad's chemistry lab, which was filled with computers that allowed me to spar with other young kids in StarCraft Galaxy in the noble quest to improve my tactical RTS skills and, frankly, my quick tapping ability.

Admittedly, I wasn't too good and instead of conquering the world of video games, I decided instead to become a lawyer (a much less noble quest that many would surely object to).

However, video games were fun, and they remain entertainment to this day. However, since I was infused with StarCraft in the late nineties, it has undergone important changes. Friends lounges and gaming halls have been replaced with glitzy, glamorous gaming arenas for thousands of people.

Once a game for the lucky few to play - and a few more to watch - it has evolved into a giant that spawned its own TV channels and even sparked keen interest among sports franchise owners. Millions of fans around the world watch epic DOTA 2 and League of Legends battles or thrilling Madden NFL competitions; and maybe, just maybe, someday mass stations will create digital versions of Gary Lineker and Terry Bradshaw to tell us about the esports "match of the day."

And then, as in any sport, you can place bets. The COVID pandemic has allowed these markets to become even more visible. With all due respect. The competition from Belarusian football and Angolan table tennis was not as tough as in the Premier League or Euro.

As we emerge from the pandemic, interest in and betting on esports has not diminished; vice versa. The younger generation may in part prefer their digital on-screen characters to the real ones.

It is also fair to say that regulation is slowly but surely catching up. A number of European countries now allow esports betting. As far as the US is concerned, most of the states that globally regulate 2020 and 2021 classify esports as a standard part of their portfolio of markets. Both Nevada and New Jersey are even exploring the possibility of regulating the esports tournaments themselves, independently of the regulation of esports betting.

A critical component of any such regulation is player and consumer protection, from rules ranging from age verification and tournament registration to responsible gaming and fair gaming practices. Organizations such as ESIC and CSPPA, among others, have spearheaded this charge and are by no means stopping there as the esports world enters another phase of expansion on the global stage. So, welcome, your units are ready to take your orders; play with them responsibly.

The statements made in relation to this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Entain Plc.

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