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Is Betting on E-Sports Legal?

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on June 29, 2015 9:58 AM

The rise of e-sports, televised video game competitions, has been meteoric. Matches are pulling in 5-figure crowds and players are pulling in six-figure winnings. And when sports start making big money on the field, gamblers will want to make big money off it.

An ex-HP and Microsoft executive is betting big on the future of e-sports gambling. Rahul Sood founded the e-sports betting site Unikrn in anticipation that gambling on e-sports will be legal within two years.

Wait, What Are We Betting on Again?

Over the past few years, video gaming has moved out of the living room and into the arena. Even those who are familiar with "Dota," "League of Legends," and "StarCraft" may not know that crowds of 40,000 are showing up in Seoul to watch gamers compete against each other.

Games, and the experts who play them, have become sophisticated enough to not only serve as entertainment for the players, but for fans as well. And with broadcasting technology improving, piping video of the games to fans, in the cheap seats or on their laptops, has become easier and more beautiful. So yeah, you're not only watching someone else play a video game, you're betting that FunkMastrFleX0rs is going to totally pwn D0peN0Sc0pe so hard on "Halo 3" right now.

Wait, Is This Legal?

Not in the U.S., yet. Although Sood's site is live in Australia, American regulators haven't caught up to gaming gambling at this point. Unfortunately, place a bet on a "Counter Strike" battle using a mobile app or via the Web isn't throwing $20 on your fantasy baseball team.

But Sood thinks that will change soon. The International Business Times is reporting that he told Agence France-Presse that he thinks betting on e-sports will be legal within the next couple years. Sood said, "We believe there is no better way to heighten the experience than through betting."

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