January 22-23

Hard Rock Atlantic City and EEG host US first sanctioned esports skill-based wagering event

Reading time 2:42 min

Esports and online gambling company Esports Entertainment Group is partnering with Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City for the first sanctioned esports skill-based wagering event in the United States, both parties announced last Friday.

The newly-announced partnership between both parties will be kicked-off by the event, to be held in New Jersey, on January 22 and 23, 2022. The tournament will launch LANDuel and is expected to be the springboard for more esports betting events and permanent installations in the future at the casino and hotel venue, according to a press statement.

The launch will include a two-day 256-player in-person tournament, set to become the first skill-based gaming event approved by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. Participants will be permitted to wager on themselves in each round of the event by checking in and creating a LANDuel account.

LANDuel is a player-vs-player wagering platform, built in Unity, which allows for skill-based wagering on third-party video games. LANDuel’s consumer-facing application enforces strict four-factor authentication to ensure fair play and ID verification.

"We are extremely excited to partner with one of the top global hotel and casino venues to kickstart the world of regulated peer-to-peer wagering in esports," said Grant Johnson, CEO of Esports Entertainment Group. "This partnership and event are a tremendous accomplishment for our brand and creates a wide variety of opportunities for our groups to explore more innovative esports events."

Once they’re assigned to a PC, players will then begin tournament play. Within the tournament, players competing will be able to place bets on their own matches as they try to make their way to the finals. Interested participants can now register for the tournament.

"We are extremely proud to offer a one-of-a-kind e-sports wagering experience in partnership with EEG," said Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. "We are confident that this innovative and highly regulated partnership will prove to be a success, contributing to our market-leading gaming offerings."

Moreover, the event space will also feature a dedicated set of PCs for non-tournament participants to compete in side matches on LANDuel. This will allow eligible tournament spectators or casino guests to side-wager in their own matches outside of the tournament. The event will also include a showcase stage for the tournament with spectator seating.

EEG first submitted a transactional waiver to launch betting operations in New Jersey in October, including its esports-focused sportsbook VIE.gg. The company finds New Jersey a highly-strategic market given its record-setting monthly sports betting handles. The company opened an office in Hoboken as part of its expansion strategy in the state.

“NJ is unique not only because as a state it is widely recognized as the most stringent state to attain a license, making future jurisdictions an easier process, but it also has a geographic advantage of being so close to NYC in the north and Philadelphia in the south,” Gran Johnson told Yogonet in an exclusive interview last month. “When we go live we will be the first and only fully regulated esports betting site in North America, and we believe this will give us a significant advantage over our competitors.”

Throughout calendar 2021, the business carried out a series of acquisitions, including Helix eSports, ggCircuit and BetHard. The deals included Helix’s proprietary LANDuel platform, which first launched in a pilot program with the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement.

“When we roll out LANdual early next calendar year we will be able to provide a skill-based PvP betting product in which sports team fans, as well as all the other 2.5 million gamers on our ggCircuit platform, will be able to play against each other for cash prizes,” Johnson told Yogonet in November.

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