Specialist eSports fantasy league and betting site eSportsPools (ESP.bet) has announced it has secured the first licence in the world to specifically cover gambling with virtual goods.
The eSports fantasy leagues, sports betting and casino offerings of ESP.bet are now licensed by the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC), one of the world’s premier regulators of online gambling. The licence is the first to be granted under revised rules, in which the GSC regulates the betting of virtual goods, and the first to have these goods approved as part of the business plan in a licence submission. ESP.bet will be running these licensed real-money and virtual-goods games from its primary domain, with esportspools.com remaining as a free-to-play site.
The new Isle of Man licence solidifies the company’s leading position in this burgeoning industry. The site was one of the first to offer eSports fantasy leagues and has since beaten several major competitors to take the top spot in that market, as well as making the move into eSports betting. Having just closed another funding round aimed at continued growth, it is backed by some of the most respected investors in the sector, including BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, Firestartr, Charlotte Street Capital, Vancouver Founder Fund and several experienced eSports and gambling executives.
CEO Scott Burton explained why the licence is so important for the company’s place in the industry, saying, “To date, eSports betting and the gambling of virtual goods has largely been a grey market, with a lot of unregulated operators failing to protect their customers. We’ve always taken a more transparent approach, undertaking ‘know your customer’ checks to verify age and running a really clear game system. With this licence, that work has been validated and I feel like we have taken the first step towards building a regulated market place that is safe for consumers, businesses, and investors.”
Licensing specialist Alex McNee is a Director of Boston Multi Family Office, the service provider which managed the licence application. He stressed the importance of this licence as a milestone in the meteoric growth of the eSports market, saying, “Global revenues in eSports are now tipping past the $1 billion a year mark and we know the industry still has a lot of growth ahead of it. As the betting markets for this industry mature, operators are going to have to be licensed to ensure long term growth, and that licence will need to cover areas such as digital currencies and virtual goods. The Isle of Man’s recent inclusion of these assets into their regulations is a huge step forward, which has now been made real by the granting of ESP.bet’s licence.”
In addition to cash and virtual goods, the licence also allows ESP.bet to process digital currency transactions, meaning the platform will be able to handle deposits and pay-outs in Bitcoin. These transactions will be handled via reputable exchange BitPay.com but will be fully integrated into the platform.
Photo - Scott Burton.