Although the dip was small, revenue in Las Vegas decreased a little last year. In any business it is important to look to the future and find ways to boost growth and continued prosperity. For Las Vegas, a part of this could well be investing in eSports, and that’s something the gambling capital has already started to do.
The Growth of eSports
The best definition of eSports is competitive gaming at a professional level. The games involved are generally video games such as fighter, strategy, first-person shooter and multiplayer online battle games. Card games and sports games, notably the FIFA series, can also be seen as part of the eSports world.
While these games have been played for some time, there is a new focus on them and they are in the public eye much more than they have ever been before. In the past, gamers played them almost exclusively at home and only those that were really involved knew all the latest developments. Now, games are live-streamed to viewers around the world via Twitch and YouTube.
Interest in betting on eSports is growing at a very rapid rate, and international tournaments are gathering momentum and attracting ever-growing crowds of spectators. In a very interesting twist, as land-based casinos are edged out by online gambling and sportsbetting, online gaming is coming into land-based venues where fans can gather and cheer on their heroes.
Existing eSports Arenas
To harness and capitalise on the growing global enthusiasm for eSports, a lot of interested parties have started assembling and creating structures for the sport. Regulatory bodies have started forming, such as the International eSports Federation. Whereas the potential of eSports was first seen in Asia (the International Federation is based in South Korea), organisational bodies have sprung up in the Western world recently too. In Nevada, for example, the Nevada eSports Alliance has formed to work on establishing the state as an eSports hub on a global scale.
In fact, there is already a dedicated eSports venue in Nevada. The Millennial eSports Arena opened in downtown Vegas in 2017, and other venues have expressed interest in dedicating part of their space to the events. The idea that permanent venues need to be established is a clear recognition of eSports players as serious athletes; the focus of event organisers needs to be on looking after them rather than creating temporary competition locations. In the United Kingdom the first dedicated eSports stadium has opened with the Gfinity Arena, and Allied eSports already owns several venues around Asia.
The Luxor eSports Arena
The really special thing about the new eSports arena is that it is on the Las Vegas Strip itself, right in the heart of Sin City. The Luxor Hotel and Casino has been converted into the venue, and it is truly impressive to see. The culmination of 2 years of planning and work, the new arena is set to officially open on the 22nd of March 2018 with an invite-only tournament that will be live-streamed and will take place over several days.
At the moment, the exact ways in which the venue will generate money are unclear, but there are many options. The main focus of all stakeholders is to create a home for eSports in Las Vegas, and to see what develops from this new springboard. For now, according to MGM Resorts President of Core Las Vegas Properties Steve Zanella, the focus will be on drawing crowds and not on placing bets. With a competition stage, impressive LED video wall, daily gaming stations, a restraint with cuisine served up by superstar chef Jose Andre, cutting-edge production and streaming studios and more, the success in this endeavour seems very likely! Seeing how far eSports can go in the world’s entertainment capital should be very interesting, and will bring a whole new dimension to the Strip.