The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has approved betting on Esports through contests — but not at the state’s casinos.

Draft-Kings spokesman Chris Cippola asked the commission to approve Esport wagering through his company’s contests.

“Esports are organized multiplayer video game competitions in which competitors from different teams compete against each other in tournaments and leagues — in which participants exhibit elite physical talent and skill,” according to Cippola.

Cippola says Esports have many of the same characteristics as regular sports.
“Professional players receive lucrative salaries, endorsements and prize money and teams are sponsored by Fortune 500 companies,” he says. “Esports competitions have filled the world’s largest sporting arenas and are widely viewed on an international level via popular streaming mediums like Twitch and YouTube.”

He cited one example of a popular Esports.”Rocket League is a competitive video game where players drive vehicles that compete in a soccer match,” he explains, “It is cars playing soccer that are controlled by human participants.”

The commissioners approved the request to allow sports betting on games involving Esports. They were then asked by Iowa Gaming Association president Wes Ehrecke to approve the same for casinos and their sports betting parlors.

“We believe that Esports clearly fits well in this category for casino sports books to offer wager options on these events. They have a sanctioning governing body — the World Esports Association for the national level, a national association for college Esports at the collegiate level,” Ehrecke says.

Assistant Attorney General, Jeff Peterzalek told commissioners that wagering on sports contests and actual sports are governed in separate sections of the law — and the language doesn’t match’

“What you just approved in the prior agenda item wasn’t because Esports are a sport or an authorized sporting even. It was because they are a simulated game or contest — which is expressly allowed in 99-E — but there is no such language in 99-F,” according to Peterzalek.

He says the sports betting definition is very specific and doesn’t include Esports.
“It does not meet the definition of authorized sporting events. I would also note that the definition of authorized sporting events expressly excludes — excludes fantasy sports as defined in chapter 99-E,” he says. “It doesn’t meet the other definitions of professional sporting events, international sporting events, or any of the other definitions that would be needed.” The issue failed to get approval after no commissioner made a motion on the request.

Peterzalek says the casinos could petition the IRGC for a legal opinion on sports betting on Esports as one option.