Specialist esports fantasy league and betting website eSportsPools (ESP.bet) has obtained the first-ever licence to specifically cover gambling with virtual goods.
Awarded by the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC), the licence is the first to be granted under new rules whereby the GSC regulates the betting of virtual goods.
ESP.bet will now run licensed real-money and virtual-goods games from its main domain, while the Esportspools.com website will remain a free-to-play platform.
In addition to cash and virtual goods, the licence will enable ESP.bet to process transactions involving digital currency, such as Bitcoin.
Scott Burton, chief executive of ESP.bet, said: “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 marketplace that is safe for consumers, businesses, and investors.”
Alex McNee, a director of Boston Multi Family Office, the service provider that managed the licence application, added: “Global revenues in eSports are now tipping past the $1bn (€850.3m) 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.”