Earlier this week, the Supreme Court made a 6-3 ruling to strike down a law that prevented gambling on sports events. Take-Two Interactive chief executive Strauss Zelnick expressed optimism on the possibility that this law change could affect the esports industry.
For those who don’t know, the Supreme Court ended a six-year legal battle over the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. Their decision allows legal sports betting in any state that decides to make it legal. At first, this doesn’t sound like an issue that would involve the esports industry. However, the lines between conventional sports and esports are becoming more blurred by the day, so it’s inevitable that one day this law change will have an effect on the esports industry.
As seen in the PC Gamer article linked above, there are already people talking about the potential benefits and drawbacks to this legal decision. ESG Law founder and attorney Bryce Blum spoke up on how lucrative the esports gambling scene is already, as well as the possible drawbacks in follow-up tweets:
The Supreme Court just struck down the primary law restricting sports betting throughout the US.
This will have a profound impact on the esports industry and we’re so underprepared for it. ~$5B wagered on esports last year – about to skyrocket.
— Bryce Blum (@esportslaw) May 14, 2018
Mark Cuban, who owns the Dallas Mavericks and is an investor in esports betting site Unikrn, expressed his hopes in an ESPN interview:
— Jacob Wolf (@JacobNWolf) May 14, 2018
Now, an actual video game company has weighed in on the benefits this could provide. In an earnings call, Take-Two Interactive chief executive Strauss Zelnick praised the change, remarked that the change should effect gaming “…at some point in the relatively near future,” and said it would have a “…meaningfully positive impact” on Take-Two. He also said:
“We certainly think it’s a good decision, we think there may indeed be an influence, and a meaningfully positive influence, on our business. However, it’s not in our current sights, we don’t have any expectations right now, [we’re] simply observing that there are potential opportunities in the future. And I’d be very surprised if sports gambling didn’t intersect with the industry at some point in the relatively near future.”
Take-Two owns a 50% stake in the NBA 2K eSports league in partnership with the NBA. This could be a big incentive for publishers to enter into the world of esports, but the different laws between each state may make it difficult for some. It will take time to see how things work out.