At yesterday's Esports Conference in Sydney, a fun fact about Australian esports was revealed: the only state or territory that officially recognises video games as an approved sport for betting is the Northern Territory. On top of that, they have a list of what games you can bet on.
The land of Darwin, Alice Springs and the best newspaper in the world is also the only state or territory within Australia to officially recognise esports under state gambling law. Esports events around Australia fall under gambling legislations as "games of skill", but right now the NT is the only place where esports and specific games are actually recognised.
The NT has 20 games that fall under "declared sporting events for bookmaking", which is essentially a list of games bookies are allowed to offer betting markets on:
- Call of Duty
- Counter Strike
- Defense of the Ancients (DOTA)
- FIFA Interactive World Cup
- FIFA Ultimate Team Championship Series
- Heroes of the Storm
- League of Legends Championship
- Madden Series/Leagues
- NBA 2K Series/Leagues
- Playerunknowns Battlegrounds
- Rocket League
- Street Fighter Series
- Warcraft 3
- World of Tanks
"Esports in a gambling context is in a fairly embyronic stage and it will take some time before state and territory gambling regulators approve it as a regulator that TABs can offer markets on," Angus Abadee, manager for policy and legislation at Liquor and Gaming NSW, said.
Abadee went on to mention the challenge that bookmakers are having in Victoria with UFC - which has only been approved in the state recently - but said, eventually, other states and territories would follow in the NT's footsteps.
"I think that is inevitable, but it will take some time to develop," Abadee added. "It's also a bit of an education process; some of these games are incredibly complex to understand in terms of functionality, and regulators will want to see that they're not going to be prone to integrity related issues."
Gambling is regulated by state and territory bodies around Australia, except for the Interactive Gambling Act which is enforced by ACMA federally.
The panel went into broader specifics about integrity concerns, which largely fall under efforts to curb matchfixing in esports. Other panellists suggested - and have done so to various bookmakers around the world - avoiding smaller, lower profile events, to reduce the possibility of matchfixing. Hai Ng, a member of the Esports Integrity Coalition, also noted that educating players and teams has been a helpful strategy, with many individuals unaware of the risks that betting on games could pose to their career.
Disclosure: Kotaku Australia was the listed media partner of The Esports Conference.
Update: The panel was attended by Angus Abadee from Liquor & Gaming NSW, not Angus Abadee as was outlined in the list of panellists (which can be seen in the second photo). The story has been amended above to correct this.