Make-A-Wish Georgia Making Esports Dreams Come True


Make-A-Wish Georgia Making Esports Dreams Come True

Esports production company Skillshot Media and North American esports organization Ghost Gaming have announced a partnership with the Georgia branch of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is widely known for allowing critically-ill children the opportunity to achieve one of their dreams. Make-A-Wish executives have recently noticed that more and more such children are requesting wishes involving esports.

The organization is not new to working with the esports industry; Make-A-Wish first partnered with Riot Games a decade ago.

Failed sports betting legislation not sidelining Skillshot Media and Ghost Gaming

When several legislative efforts to legalize sports betting in Georgia all failed before the 2023 legislative session ended, it also meant that fans of major esports tournaments had their legal wagers sidelined along with professional and collegiate sports contests.

But while that turns the clock ahead on sports betting legalization until next year, Skillshot Media and Ghost Gaming are not waiting to get involved in Georgia.

In 2021, Skillshot Media opened an esports hub in an uptown-Atlanta shopping center that operates as an academy and headquarters for Ghost Gaming.

“I have seen firsthand the power of a wish to change lives, and the power of the gaming community to grant those wishes,” Todd Harris, CEO of Skillshot Media and Ghost Gaming, said in a press release. “We’re excited to use our platform and engage a community of millions to amplify the amazing work of Make-A-Wish Georgia in delivering hope to young people and their families.”

By setting up shop in Atlanta, Skillshot and Ghost Gaming sit poised to not only make some wonderful wishes come true but also capitalize on a future sports betting market in Georgia.

Where is esports betting legal?

While three dozen U.S. states have legalized sports betting, only about one-third of those permit sportsbooks to offer wagering on esports events in some capacity. Nevada, New Jersey, Tennessee and West Virginia have fully legalized esports betting while more and more states are regulating the industry.

These states include Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

“Regulated” in this sense means that bettors can wager on a very limited range of esports markets and cannot do so through all available retail and online outlets.

Each state has set up a minimum age of 21 to make esports wagers except Wyoming, where the minimum is age 18.

Challenges facing esports wagering

In January 2022, New Jersey licensed the first esports betting agency, known as ESports Entertainment Group (EEG), along with its betting platform called

But nine months later, EEG announced that was shutting down operations worldwide.

Just weeks before the shutdown, EEG CEO Grant Johnson said that regulators, casino operators, and some professional sports teams had expressed some interest in esports. But Johnson said he was stunned at what he called the “ridiculous” concern that video games might lead to real-world violence and thus cast a negative light on anyone associated with promoting gambling on esports events.

As noted, many states only authorize esports betting on an event-by-event basis, a cumbersome process that tends to result in so little inventory that potential customers likely are unaware that the option even exists.

The most common concern in these markets has not only been about esports wagering potentially luring teenagers into evading minimum-age laws, but also regarding the esports players themselves.

It is not unusual for some esports professionals to be under age 21, raising the question, “Can a bettor place a wager on them?”

The answer has varied from state to state.

State regulations vary on wagers on under-age players

In Maryland, the sports betting law allows for betting on “An electronic sports or video game competition in which each participant is at least 18 years old.”

Tennessee law, on the other hand, does not address the age of the gamer. It allows wagers on “Any multiplayer video game played competitive for spectators, either in-person or via remote connection, in which success principally depends upon the superior knowledge, training, experience, and adroitness of the players.”

Some states allow for wagering on events where the majority of the participants are at least 21 years old. Golf is one such example.

In 2021 in New Jersey, Megha Ganne, a U.S. Women’s Open golfer, was eligible to be a subject of wagers at the state’s sportsbooks even though she was a 17-year-old junior in high school in the state.

The issue became more than just an academic one when Ganne, an amateur, grabbed a share of the first-round lead and remained in contention heading into the weekend.

No doubt lawmakers in many statehouses would blanch at the idea of adults betting money on the rise or fall of high schoolers, evidenced by all current state sports betting laws disallowing wagers on high school/prep school sports.

A further issue confronting lawmakers is whether to allow esports professionals age 21 and over to legally wager on themselves at sportsbooks. That can’t happen with traditional professional sports leagues, but esports has left the door open through bet-on-yourself programs.

If Georgia ever legalizes sports betting, esports wagering parameters no doubt will be debated as they have been in each state where it is made legal.

Fortunately, the young clients of Make-A-Wish Foundation will not have to wait on lawmakers’ decisions before seeing their esports dreams come true.