Group wants Las Vegas to be major player in esports

On Feb. 19, an international athletic showdown took over the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It was the culmination of a five-day tournament that had teams from Denmark, Poland, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Australia, Brazil and the U.S. competing for $450,000 and priceless bragging rights.

As the last two squads battled under the lights during the final evening, analysts tracked the action, fans roared over particularly brilliant play, reporters watched for pivotal moments and confetti was readied for the victors.

Casinos Get Into the Esports Game

U.S. casinos are turning to videogame competitions to attract younger visitors and turn around years of subdued growth.

MGM Resorts International plans to convert a former nightclub at its Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas into a permanent venue for hosting esports contests starting next year, the company said Tuesday.

Other gambling properties already have built or are leasing space for such events, including Downtown Grand Las Vegas and Caesars in Atlantic City, N.J.

Casinos are looking for ways to jump-start growth, which has slowed since the recession. From 2001 to 2007, gambling revenue for casinos across the U.S. rose by more than 38%; since then, it has risen 8%, according to data from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Many casinos, particularly on the Las Vegas Strip, have sought growth through other revenue streams, such as restaurants and entertainment. Last year, 34% of casino revenue on the Strip came from gambling, down from 41% in 2007, according to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Casinos view esports as a way to attract younger new patrons who aren’t gambling as much as baby boomers or interested in existing forms of entertainment there. The average esports fan is between 21 and 35 years old, according to research firm Newzoo BV.

“This is really about creating another amenity on the property,” said Nik Rytterstrom, general manager of the Luxor.

Las Vegas may be ‘something special’ for esports industry

It’s an industry that does not yet completely exist but is expected to generate millions of dollars.

“Las Vegas is going to be something special for esports,” said Carson Knuth, co-founder of LEET, a startup that has been operating esports tournaments at Downtown Grand since January 2016. “We’re all just finding where we fit into that ecosystem.”

The emerging global esports industry generated $352 million in revenue in 2015 and is slated to generate $1.1 billion in 2019, according to a 2016 report by Newzoo, a provider of market intelligence covering the global games, esports and mobile markets.

Knuth was one of about 30 people representing a variety of possible esports industry stakeholders, including Caesars Entertainment Corp., the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and the Nevada Film Office, who attended the first meeting of its kind the evening of June 27, hosted by the Nevada Esports Alliance.

Saving Las Vegas: Can Esports Be The Hero Casinos Need?

As casinos look to counteract an aging demographic of customers and players, one industry many operators are looking to is esports.

This is understandable given the typical demographic of esports fans, which in particular titles’ scenes at least, is notably older than many outsiders would (and regularly do) presume. They aren’t all kids. A recent story on Fox Business opened with the line ‘casinos are slowly embracing competitive video game tournaments as a way to help their bottom lines’, and went onto explain that the money was coming from hotel rooms, food and drink. This of course is not necessarily a bad thing; casinos are evermore entertainment venues first and foremost as opposed to gambling halls.