Nevada Looking to Become First State to Create Esports Regulatory Body

While people try to avoid terms such as “the wild west” and “gold rush,” the reality here is that esports as we know it is in a place and time where those terms aptly apply. However, one Nevada lawmaker is doing his best to ensure that esports has a place where the scene can settle down with a structure and stability that is so surely needed. To that end has introduced a bill that would create a three-member commission that would govern esports in  Nevada. The commission would function much like the Nevada Athletic Commission which governs boxing and MMA.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the state, Las Vegas and other cities that rely on tourist and gaming revenue. Closures on the Las Vegas strip have reportedly caused a collective $4B USD loss in revenue. And while social distancing rules and the closure of event venues still would have caused a stop in esports events in Las Vegas, the genre has proven to be somewhat insulated from the pandemic as organizers pivoted to playing remotely while still providing production value for fans watching streams. Kieckhefer knows this and sees the economic benefit of bringing esports to Las Vegas. Creating a commission is the first step in the plan of bringing esports full time to the city.

“I come to this primarily as an economic development initiative for the state of Nevada,” Kieckhefer told The Esports Observer. “As esports continues to grow and mature, I think it is going to be a dominant force in the entertainment industry going forward. And there’s no place on earth better positioned to take advantage of that than Las Vegas, Nevada. The city can handle anything from small LANS (local area network)  to large scale, major tournaments and championships.”

In order to get tournament organizers and game publishers such as Activision Blizzard, Epic Games, Riot Games, Nintendo, Psyonix, Valve, and others to bring events to Las Vegas, Senate Bill 165 would not only create the aforementioned three-person commission but also help create an environment that would be conducive to what Kieckhefer refers to as “fair and trusted.” 

“Creating a commission that works hand-in-hand with the game publishers and IP holders is necessary in creating a competitive environment that can be looked upon by everyone as ‘fair and trusted,’” Kieckhefer said. “With a Nevada state commission behind them, tournament organizers can rest assured that they have the backing of an experienced entity that can and will hold esports to the highest of competitive integrity standards.”

By introducing this bill, Kieckhefer is looking to show that Las Vegas and the state of Nevada sees esports as a legitimate competitive entertainment property that can flourish, much in the way the UFC has flourished. Those experts that follow the UFC point out that its popularity started to skyrocket only after the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board became involved by instituting a new unified series of rules geared towards fighter safety and other amenities.

Much in the same vein, Senate Bill 165 looks to protect esports events being conducted in the state, with the creation of the commission that will help ensure that esports competitions will be conducted in a professional manner on par with major traditional sports.

Andy Miller, who is the co-owner of the Sacramento Kings and co-owner of one of North America’s most successful esports organizations, NRG Esports, is happy to see such endeavors.

“I like the idea. Anything that legitimizes the competitive integrity aspects of the games is important to moving forward with esports betting,” Miller told The Esports Observer. “It Needs to be in concert with the leagues and event organizers.”

It’s that professionalism, coupled with the ample competitive space and available technology that the senator believes will and does make Las Vegas a desirable destination for all things esports.

“We currently have the facilities with new ones being built, not just specific to esports, that would make a great addition to the esports competitive space,” Kieckhefer said. “Allegiant Stadium and the new sphere being built behind the Venetian are great examples of what Las Vegas can offer. These are facilities that could host major events in a new and unique way.”

Looking at the bill, it appears that the commission would be tasked with sanctioning those esports events that have a prize pool of $1K or more and those competitions which meet that threshold would then be conducted under the purview of the commission.

Kieckhefer believes that by passing this bill and then working with the tournament organizers and game publishers it will create an atmosphere that will attract events and its fans from all over the world.

“If we can position Nevada and Las Vegas as a thought leader in esports, it could absolutely attract the right companies, tournament organizers, developers, and the millions of fans that associate themselves with esports.”

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