The unlikely tandem: casino gaming and eSports

image 1 The unlikely tandem: casino gaming and eSports

Casinos brands aware of opportunities

When we think about eSports, we might not automatically think about casinos or gambling. However, the casino industry has woken up to the massive potential of competitive gaming. After all, eSports are not so different from traditional sports, and the gambling industry is wide awake to the opportunities of sports betting.

Active involvement

It is not just passive involvement either. Dedicated casino esports arenas are springing up, and casino brands are sponsoring the leading esports teams. This seems to be a relationship that will grow and grow, particularly as eSports cross over into the mainstream.

Purpose-built venues

The HyperX Arena Las Vegas at the Luxor casino has a professional eSports competition stage and a fifty-foot LED screen. The venue hosts video game competitions and produces unique content. The 30,000-square-foot eSports casino has VIP rooms and a vintage video games cocktail bar. HyperX is injecting the glamour of the casino world into competitive gaming.

WinStar and Complexity Gaming

In 2018 WinStar World became the first casino sponsor of an eSports team, Complexity Gaming. Jerry Jones, who owns the Dallas Cowboys, is a majority stake owner of Complexity Gaming. The organization competes across many eSport disciplines, including CS:GO, Dota 2, Rocket League, Clash Royale, Fortnite and Hearthstone. The team will make appearances at the casino and have access to all the amenities.

Jack Parkinson, WinStar general manager, said,

“The high-energy and competitive nature of esports aligns with our focus on creating unique, high-energy gaming and entertainment experiences for our patrons. CompLexity’s forward-thinking and innovative approach to one of the fastest-growing genres of mainstream entertainment is a natural fit as we look toward remaining at the forefront of the gaming industry.”

Land-based casinos revenues in decline

Revenues from traditional gambling in land-based casinos have declined for some time. For example, in May 2019, the Nevada Gaming Control Board Data showed that gross gaming revenue from the Las Vegas Strip had declined by 3.5%. This decline was then exacerbated by the closure of venues during the Covid-19 pandemic and a shift to online gaming.

At the same time, competitive gaming has become a billion-dollar industry. As a result, the ever-innovative casino industry has been looking at how they can be part of this latest phenomenon. Now many names on the Strip, such as Caesars and Downtown Grand like  Luxor, have made their facilities available to eSports players and destinations for the fans.

Caesars first casino to attract a major eSports league

Caesars opened a specialist esports space in 2017 with a 48,000-square-foot production studio. At the time, Caesars had started hosting the Gears of War tournament. The new studio attracted the H1ZI tournament in 2018; this made it the first casino to host a major eSports league.

MGM has developed special facilities

MGM has also been busy in this area. They partnered with Unikrn, an esports betting brand, when opening a gaming playground where eSports tournaments can take place. They have also developed a 10,000-square-foot facility inside their casino hotel in partnership with ESP Gaming.

North of the border

The cross-over into the mainstream for eSports is happening worldwide. Canada is positioning itself as a major player. The industry in the country is drawing investment from professional sports organizations and celebrities. 61% of Canadians, or 23 million people, are active gamers. Around 75% of Canadians participate in gambling in some form or the other. The potential for eSports and casinos in the country is enormous. Canada’s eSport’s market is expected to grow at twice the worldwide growth rate by 2023.

Focus on Ontario

Remember that Ontario opened up as the country’s first legalized and regulated online gambling market in April 2022. So you can understand why there is tremendous excitement around competitive gaming.

OverActive Media announced plans to build a new eSports arena in Toronto for 2025. The venue will have a capacity of 7,000 people. OverActive Media owns several top-end squads, including Toronto Ultra Overwatch and Call of Duty teams. They are looking for ‘home’ grounds similar to those we find for a traditional sports team.

Betting on eSports

When Toronto opened up its regulated market, it legalized all forms of gambling for residents over 21. eSports has been an attractive choice for gamblers in the province. You can look at a list of casinos in Ontario and weigh up which one is the best for your chosen eSporting competition. Some big names operating in the province include Bet365, Betway, Bwin, DraftKings, FanDuel, Rivalry, and UniBet. Check out the reviews before creating an account and depositing your money.

Sponsorship deals

Hardcore gamers have made up the majority of eSports fans to date. However, many might have previously been unaware of the casino brands and may not have considered visiting a casino venue to view an event. In an attempt to raise the brand profile of casino brands, there are a growing number of sponsorship deals between professional teams and casinos. While the most significant sponsors are names like Addidas and Coca-Cola, WinStar and Betway are both involved in sponsorship.

eSports Casino Games

The next challenge for the casinos will be making online gambling games that are skill based rather than reliant on luck. Gamers are used to having to use a degree of skill to play. If online casinos want to attract this new generation, they must adapt to their gaming preferences. While the sophistication of the graphics and animations from gaming can be seen in the latest video slots, we are still some way off the gameplay being on an equal footing.

eSports Casinos springing up worldwide

Vegas is not the only resort diversifying into eSports casinos. Competitive gaming is massive in Asia, and Macau’s popular casino gaming resort has opened a new stadium to host events. Casino resorts used to be all about table games, slots and poker. Now, watch out for eSports; the new kids on the block.

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