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Nevada Gaming Control Board Approves Wagers on ‘Call of Duty’ League Matches

“More requests have been made recently amid suspension of traditional sports events,” said NGCB Senior Analyst Michael Lawton

Nevada’s Gaming Control Board is turning to esports to fill a gambling void as betting on traditional live sports remains on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, the Board approved wagers on Activision Blizzard’s “Call of Duty” League matches, making it the latest of several esports to be approved for betting.

Gaming Control Board Senior Research Analyst Michael Lawton told TheWrap, “The approval of more esports betting in the past month is purely operator driven and more requests have been made recently amid suspension of traditional sports events.”

Esports betting in Vegas isn’t entirely new — the Gaming Control Board approved Riot Games’ “League of Legends” Championship Series in 2016 and also allows bets to be placed on the Championship Series’ European tournament. Betting on Activision’s “Overwatch” League, Counterstrike: GO matches and select ESL Pro League competitions were approved earlier in the month, according to the Esports Observer.

The Board doesn’t classify esports as a traditional sport, so operators looking to enable gambling at their tournaments have to file approval for an “other event,” said Lawton.

With casinos closed and no live sports, the lack of traditional betting has left the gambling scene in Vegas nearly dried up, and the Gaming Control Board is scrambling to find ways to make up that money. Lawton said that gambling on other esports competitions will likely be approved in the coming months if the operators express interest and meet event requirements — though he wouldn’t clarify what those specific requirements are.

Activision and its “Call of Duty” League organizers did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

“It is operator driven… if they find an event that they would like to accept wagers on they must file an application. The (board) works very closely with the operators to determine if the event will comply with our standards,” said Lawton.