Nevada Esports Bill Signed by Governor After ‘Significant Changes’ Pushed by the Video Games Industry – The Esports Observer

Nevada State Bill 165, which was introduced by state Sen. Ben Kieckhefer (R-Reno) as a vehicle to help spur economic development in the state, was passed and signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak—but not without “significant changes.”  The changes were due in large part to video game publishers and tournament organizers (led by trade group the Entertainment Software Association) wanting to make it clear that they didn’t want to be regulated.

Originally, the bill sought to create an Esports Regulatory Commission that would function much like the Nevada Athletic Commission which licenses and regulates sports such as boxing and mixed martial arts. However, before the time to vote arrived, the idea of a regulatory commission was changed and amended to that of a technical advisory committee that would work under the auspices of the Nevada Gaming Control Board to give counsel and best practices as it relates to esports wagering.

The ESA has spent a fair share of energy fighting against government regulations, most notably it helped fight the state of California in a 2011 U.S. Supreme Court case (Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association) over a bill that sought to add labels to video games rated “Mature” sold at retail stores in the state.

“The original proposals would create an entirely new regulatory body which was clearly unsettling, primarily to the video game publishers,” Kieckhefer told The Esports Observer on Wednesday. “There was really strong pushback from them regarding that concept. The reality is that they are unregulated just about anywhere in the world and in starting to do so was, to them, unsettling.”

Unsettling so much so that it was intimated to those surrounding the bill, that if SB 165 passed, publishers and tournament organizers might choose to keep events out of Nevada and Las Vegas, specifically.

“They were making some fairly aggressive threats that this could drive events out of Las Vegas and out of the state,” Kieckhefer said. “It (passing the original bill) would prevent events from coming to the state, which is counter to the entire purpose of the bill from the perspective of economic development.”

However, to Kieckhefer, even though the bill was not passed in its original form, working with video game publishers and tournament organizers to establish a relationship and continued trust was just as important.

“So in trying to build a good relationship with the industry, we listened to their concerns and went back to some of the basic tenets of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Kieckhefer said. “[Which was] bringing in thought leadership about esports to Nevada.”

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