June 24, 2019

5 minutes with Karl Bennison

Chief, Enforcement Division Nevada Gaming Control Board
1. How do you see the future of the gambling industries and the esports industries colliding?
Esports, its relationship to the gaming industry and related development is a hot topic in Nevada.  Formal study of the topic started with former Governor Sandoval convening the State’s Gaming Policy Committee to study the subject.  Following the Committee meetings and its determination that embracing esports was good for the State, licensed esports wagering commenced and some regulatory revisions were made to streamline the esports wagering approval process.  Going forward it will be a combination of effective oversight of esports competitions, demand from the public for licensed esports wagers and requests from licensees to offer various wagers on esports events that will determine the growth in this wagering category in Nevada.  
Additionally, there is an active esports alliance in Nevada (NVEA) that meets periodically and focuses on educating and promoting the development of best practices at the intersection of the esports and regulated gambling industries.  With casino resorts building esports event facilities or hosting esports tournaments and conferences at their properties, it is clear there will be ongoing esports wagering and other esports related development in Nevada.
2. In what ways do esports need to be regulated for them to be utilized in the gambling world?
The esports competitions need to have an effective governing body with sanctioning authority, just like any other major sport.  Persistent work toward universally recognized minimum standards for esports competitions will improve uniformity among the governing bodies and tournament organizers covering the various esports professional leagues and collegiate competitions.  Organizations like the Esports Integrity Coalition hold their members to principles and standards that certainly bolster a regulator’s confidence that a given event is being properly run and is suitable for sanctioned wagering. 
3. What do you see other than esports as a portal to a metamorphosis of the casino market?
As far as gambling market developments, there has certainly been excitement and activity in recent years in the skill gaming and hybrid gaming space.  As with many relatively new endeavors, it takes some trial and error to see what takes hold with the new generations of casino resort visitors.  Fortunately, casinos have continued to diversify and there are so many reasons for people to visit a casino resort property. All aspects a resort’s operation (e.g. gambling, food and drink, shows, amusement rides, exhibits, movies, clubs, lodging, spas and shopping) work together to grow and evolve the industry.  
4. In what ways can esports be implemented in the casino market other than wagering?
As mentioned previously, the esports venues (competition and recreational play) and the hosting of major tournaments and conventions are ways I have seen casino resorts are incorporating esports into their mix, outside of wagering.  There are many more ideas being discussed and projects in the works as the gaming industry continues to look for additional ways to incorporate esports into their array of offerings. 
5. What ways can we make sure that esports is only promoted in the casino market to a 21-and-over the audience?
In Nevada, casino resorts, outside of gambling, drinking and certain venues and shows, are open to all ages, so the resorts can market to all with respect to their esports venues and events and competitions.  However, any promotions related to esports wagering and other adult activities should be appropriately designed, targeted, posted and/or distributed.  Also, casinos, tournament organizers and hosting facilities/properties should discourage, control, address, halt and/or report any underage or unlicensed gambling activity.  
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