New Jersey Looks to Add Competitive Eating Contests to the Betting Board

Every 4th of July, Nathan’s famous hot dog eating contest at Coney Island in New York takes place. This is probably the most well-known competitive eating contest in the country if not the world. Joey Chestnut has become the stuff of legends through his hot dog eating exploits in this competition.

Lawmakers in New Jersey, as the biggest legal sports betting market in the US, are looking to cash in on the growing attraction of betting on competitive eating contests. A bill has been introduced to add these types of events to the betting board at in-state sportsbooks.

Also included in that piece of legislation is legal betting on awards shows in the realm of movies and entertainment such as the Oscars or Grammys.

This legislation is also a companion bill to one that has already been unanimously approved by the state Assembly in June of last year. The current bill has recently been advanced by the Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee.

A pair of state senators are championing the cause to broaden the definition of a “sports event.” Sen. Jim Beach and Sen. Chris Brown are looking to redefine events such as this as “any skill-based attraction, including awards competitions and competitive eating contests.”

The issue of betting on the Oscars has come up before. New Jersey permitted legal wagering on this event in the past. However, it was approved through a special dispensation issued by the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE).

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The state is looking to permit betting on these types of events on a permanent basis through the legislative process. This would officially legalize and codify the ability to offer wagers on “skilled-based” attractions and events.

Many of the states that currently offer legal sports betting have refrained from legalizing betting on award shows such as the Oscars. The issue at hand is that the results are known ahead of time. This could open the door to possible betting fraud through insider information.

Competitive eating contests would be much harder to manipulate since they are conducted live. Nonetheless, the proposed legislation in New Jersey comes with wager limits and maximum payouts. This would hopefully deter anyone from trying to manipulate the outcome.

Also addressed in this bill is the idea of betting on events with participants under the age of 18.

Legal betting on high school sports has always been deemed to be inappropriate. The new issue on the table is betting on eSports events. There are quite a few competitive gamers that are still considered minors under state law.

To clarify the issue, the proposed legislation contains the following wording:

Under existing law, certain events, such as high school sporting events, are considered ‘prohibited sports events’ and cannot be wagered on. This bill expands on ‘prohibited sports events’ to include electronic sports competitions sponsored by or affiliated with high schools or competitions in which the majority of the competitors are under the age of 18.

Betting on eSports has been a growing trend with the popularity of these types of competitions increasing over the past few years.

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