Esports and online gambling company Esports Entertainment Group (EEG) has hosted the first sanctioned skill-based wagering event in the US. The Madden NFL ’22 tournament was held on March 19-20 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, New Jersey, and marked the launch of EEG’s LANDuel platform.
According to a report from the company, the event drew more than 290 registrants. Additionally, more than 16,000 live viewers watched professional competitors DubDot, Joke, and OneGreatUser play and stream from the event; while over 100 on-site spectators -including representatives from casinos, resorts, and pro sports teams- attended the tournament.
The event was the debut of EEG’s LANDuel platform, a peer-to-peer skill-based wagering platform for esports. Additionally, it is set to act as a springboard for more esports betting events and permanent installations at Hard Rock Atlantic City, the group explains.
"We are delighted to announce this first-of-its-kind tournament, held at one of the top global hotel and casino venues, was a success," said Grant Johnson, CEO of Esports Entertainment Group. "The strong interest in the event by participants and spectators showcases what we already knew about this industry: esports players are excited for the opportunity to participate in peer-to-peer wagering on a tournament level."
The tournament was the first esports skill-based wagering event approved by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement where participants were permitted to wager on themselves in each round of the event. Throughout the event, players were able to place bets on their own matches as they tried to make their way to the finals of the Madden '22 tournament.
"I am honored to have won and be the first LANDuel champion. The entire tournament ran very well, and the team at EEG took care of the players," said competitive Madden player Jaybird, who received the first-place prize of $3,600. "Instant payouts aren't commonplace in large-scale tournaments, so this is another thing they knocked out of the park.”
The event space at Hard Rock Atlantic City also featured a dedicated set of PCs for non-tournament participants to compete in side matches on LANDuel. This gave eligible tournament spectators and casino guests the ability to side-wager in their own matches outside of the tournament, EEG explains.
Johnson further described the LANDuel platform as the first of its kind due to a “handicapping” system that matches players with opponents of similar skill level, allowing for more safety and accuracy, especially when it comes to betting, according to The Press of Atlantic City.
But in addition to launching the platform, the event is set to increase younger attendance to the casino. “What we’re presenting here to casino owners is a new product to get a different demographic into the casino. In that room, there are hundreds of 20-something-year-olds, which they’re not getting right now,” Johnson told the cited source.
"We are extremely proud to offer a one-of-a-kind esports wagering experience in partnership with EEG," added 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."
"The esports is coming," Lupo told Yogonet in an interview before the event. "It's really a new opportunity that's out there and we're really doing it to test the model, see how it works, and see if there'll be more opportunities. But I expect there will be, especially as that grows."