Downtown Grand Takes First-Ever US Esports Bets

Las Vegas’ Downtown Grand casino made history by becoming the first sportsbook to take Esports bets.

As per an agreement with the Nevada Gaming Control Board, William Hill, which operates Downtown Grand’s sportsbook, accepted wagers on the 2016 Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) tournament.

While IEM 2016 was held in Oakland’s Oracle Arena — the Golden State Warriors’ home — Downtown Grand was taking bets from interested customers.

“The knowledge to know that you can come to Las Vegas, attend a tournament, or watch a tournament and then put down a stake in your favorite team or get into the action yourself is just fantastic,” said Michael Grodsky, who works for the William Hill Race & Sports Book.

The tournament was based around the popular League of Legends game, where players fight each other on a virtual battlefield. And, just like regular sports, this Esports event proved just as unpredictable.

“The actual winner was a team called Unicorns of Love, and they actually paid 10 to 1 to anyone that bet on them before the tournament started,” Grodsky told Las Vegas Now.

In addition to the William Hill operation, the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook is thinking about taking Esports action. Westgate isn’t ready to launch yet, but it’s another sign that casinos are looking to Esports to attract younger customers.

But before Westgate jumps into the Esports world, there are a few things that they’d like to see sorted out.

“We’d like to see more transparency, more of the rules out there. We’d like to see some of the formats before we start taking wagers on some of these events,” said Jay Kornegay of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

“I think it’s a real unknown factor right now. It’s an option that we’re just not too familiar with so we’re going to take the wait and see approach at this point.”

For Grodsky’s part, it’s full steam ahead after a solid week of IEM 2016 betting.

“We were very happy with the results of this weekend, and now we’re immediately looking now to the schedule to see what we can request to add on to the future menu for wagering on eSports,” said Grodsky.

As we’ve discussed before, Australia has struggled with Esports betting addiction. But then again, this is through unregulated sites that can take bets from anywhere.

In Las Vegas’ case, only adults over the age of 21 can bet on Esports at the Downtown Grand. Furthermore, they must actually be present at the casino to place bets.