There has been a lot of buzz around the eSports for the past couple of years. The buzz comes with good reason. Marketing firm NewZoo projects that eSports revenue will reach $696 million by the end of 2017. That’s more than 40% growth from 2016 revenue.
NewZoo also projects that tickets and merchandise sales from live events will be $64 million. Lastly, they expect the global eSports audience to reach 385 million in 2017. There’s a lot of money and a lot of participation in eSports. Projections have all of these number growing in the future.
eSports is a serious business around the world. However, eSports is still in its infancy in Las Vegas. Last year we introduced you to eSports in Las Vegas and frankly, it’s still getting off the ground. Casino operators know they want to be in the eSports business but haven’t figured out how to make it work on a mass scale…yet.
eSports Events In Las Vegas
To be clear, eSports isn’t new to Las Vegas. There have been events in Las Vegas for many years. In 2012, the then new Cosmopolitan partnered with IGN to bring the IPL to Las Vegas. While IPL was a one off event for the Cosmopolitan, Evolution Championship Series (more commonly known as EVO) has been in Las Vegas since 2012.
Hosting events is something Las Vegas does better than any city in the country. There’s no reason to think hosting eSports events will go away anytime soon. In 2016 the average age of those visiting Las Vegas dipped to 44, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Just over 40% of visitors to Las Vegas (44% specifically) were 40 years old or below.
eSports isn’t just for kids anymore. In the U.S, the median age for eSports viewers is 28 and nearly half have a college degree. These eSports fans have cash. Their full-time employment rate is 55%, according to research from GameScape. Are eSports viewer young? Yes. Are they legal casino, bar, and nightclub age? Yes.
After going crazy during competitions thousands of people descend on Las Vegas to enjoy the restaurants, bars, shows, casinos, nightclubs, etc. Some visitors may decide to splurge for a suite and have their own small video game competition in the rooms. There is a place for eSports players and viewers in Las Vegas but it might not be at the slot machines or roulette tables.
If organizers are simply looking for an arena eSports competitions can go to Arenas anywhere in the United States. Las Vegas offers an experience beyond the arena that no other city can match. However, Arena events are the exception for eSports competitions. Many of the events take place in smaller venues.
Creating A Home For eSports In Las Vegas
Las Vegas casino operators are renovating many of their convention spaces and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a few more competitions take place in those venues. Over the years EVO has taken place at the Paris/Bally’s Convention Center. This year EVO took place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center more famous for concerts and boxing.
Conference rooms aren’t the sexiest environment for contestants and participants. If there’s one thing Las Vegas does is make things sexy. When it comes to eSports there’s nothing more sexy than an eSports Arena that provides all of the best amenities for players and in-person or online audiences.
Downtown Grand was the first casino in Las Vegas to embrace eSports. They host eSports events every weekend in a dedicated eSports lounge at the Commissary across the street from the actual casino. Since they started hosting teams and events Millennial eSports opened a theater in downtown Las Vegas at Neonopolis. This theater is a bit more advanced with technology and marketing that should appeal to even more outside brands. These venues are friendly to locals and tourists alike.
In 2018 the first eSports Arena will open on the Vegas Strip at the Luxor. This Arena will occupy space previously used by a nightclub. The new eSports venue should take technology and entertainment for fans and participants to another level. The location inside an MGM Resorts International casino-resort should bring some extra publicity.
These smaller, intimate eSports environments should be attractive to tourists and Las Vegas residents alike. This should help eSports in Nevada grow beyond watching events to actual ground level participation. (Also see : Esports Draw an Audience More Interested in Fun Than Payouts )
Building a future for eSports participants in Las Vegas, and Nevada as a whole will only help the sport grow. Most legal sports betting in the United States happens in Nevada. The first legal bet on eSports took place in 2016 at the William Hill sports book inside the Downtown Grand.
eSports betting in Nevada is more in its infancy than eSports itself. Naruscope estimates that eSports Betting will have a sports book handle (total amount wagered) between $550-$600mm in 2016. Most of this betting will take place overseas. There’s even more wagering on skin betting but that might not translate to casino sports book betting.
There is a worldwide market for eSports betting. Sports book operators in Nevada are working to get a piece of that action but it might take awhile. Unlike mainstream sports, where games are approved for betting en masse, every eSports event has to be approved for betting individually. This takes a lot of time and effort. There doesn’t seem to be enough demand for this yet. Perhaps as eSports develops in Las Vegas this will change.
What’s Next For eSports
There’s a lot on the line with eSports but we should remember it’s just hitting the mainstream of Las Vegas. Events have been happening for five years or so and the mainstream media is finally starting to realize there might be something here more than just 10,000 people visiting Las Vegas for a few days once a year.
Casino operators are still trying to figure out how to best get a piece of this pie. At a minimum, hosting events of all sizes will draw younger visitors to Las Vegas. Las Vegas is always looking for a new way to draw future spenders to Las Vegas. Nightclubs, restaurants, and shows have all generated more revenue as gaming has slowed over the years. eSports might be the next category to help supplement the bottom line for casino operators in Las Vegas.