There are millions of live casino players and video game players spread across the world, and the fascination is still growing. From the simple arcade games of the ’70s to now, gaming has become far more complex and many titles are played competitively.
Part of the new surge in popularity of video games is due to the pandemic. When people were forced to stay indoors during the lockdowns, they searched for other ways to spend their time. But, it wasn’t just entertainment they searched for, there was also a need for socializing.
Many games are played online and this has helped to create vast social networks through the games that have led to followings on YouTube and Twitch for some gamers.
The competitive nature of the games has also led to eSports becoming very popular with purpose-built arenas such as the one created by Blizzard in Los Angeles. One other region that has stood up and taken notice of this vast network of players and fans, is Las Vegas.
Just how popular are eSports?
Video games in general attract around 2.7 billion players. That is billions of people who are actively playing games at least once a month. eSports as a concept sprung up some time ago back in the 1970s.
Nintendo is widely considered to have held the first real eSports tournament in 1990 and held their most recent event in 2017. However, Atari held The Space Invaders Championship back in 1980, attracting over 10,000 players from across the US.
eSports has attracted huge live audiences through streaming platforms, and the prize money has grown to pools of tens of millions of dollars. Due to this growth, one other area has also appeared; betting on eSports.
Why is Las Vegas so keen on eSports?
The casino industry has shown over the decades its ability to evolve and include new ideas to grow revenue. It is possible to visit a casino and play virtual sports and enjoy football betting, just as easily as it is to play slots these days.
The industry has kept an eye on eSports and realized that there is huge potential right now, and in the future. The Luxor Hotel & Casino opened their very own multi-level arena spread across 30,000 sqft. This arena includes vintage games within a cocktail bar and VIP rooms.
The reason that Luxor has invested in this arena is partly to be able to host tournaments, but also because there is money to be made from gambling on eSports.
The current eSports gambling market was minute compared to the global sports betting industry, however, it is expected to grow dramatically. According to PRNewswire, in just over six more years, some analysts believe the eSports gambling market will be worth over $200 billion.
Why has gambling on eSports become so popular?
During Covid, many day to day activities were severely restricted. People could no longer visit their favorite restaurants, go to the gym, or have a night out at the cinema.
Casinos and other gambling establishments were also hit very hard. In the UK, it is extremely common to see bookmakers in the high street and other retail areas. This is very different from the US where sports betting is still restricted in some areas. Covid saw these shops along with bingo halls and casinos close down.
This led to a big rise in playing games, and the use of online casinos and sportsbooks. With traditional gambling establishments closed, many people would turn to an online casino to play slots and poker or place bets on sports.
Online casinos in particular can make use of technology and trends for their own advantage. With billions of people enjoying gaming, and millions more wanting to bet on sports, combining these areas makes perfect sense.
Will it be good for eSports to be involved in gambling?
Clearly, MGM, who owns the Luxor, has taken a close look at eSports and felt that it was a good fit for them. There could be concern from some on the other side though.
Betting and casino companies have got involved in soccer over in England, and many are against this form of sponsorship. The fear is that some vulnerable or easily led people might start to get involved in gambling. However, the evidence is inconclusive.
What is perhaps more likely, is that sponsorship might foster brand loyalty from someone who already gambles. So, a video game fan who likes to gamble might choose MGM based on the fact that they own the HyperX eSports Arena.
How do gamblers feel about eSports?
Clearly, it is a growing market, and there is interest from first-time gamblers and more seasoned individuals. The biggest question that a long-time punter is likely to ask is, is sports betting more lucrative than eSports?
People place bets for two reasons; to add some extra excitement to an event, and to make a profit. If eSports offers a chance for a gambler to win cash, then they will try it.
Of course, some people have favorite sports, but there is a new generation of potential customers for casinos and sportsbooks to tap into. This generation has grown up with the internet and video games.
What attracted Vegas to eSports?
Casinos are businesses just like any other, and they need cash flow to survive and grow. To do this, they need to keep ahead of the times and introduce new entertainment where they can.
Vegas has been home to some historic boxing matches, MMA fights are also held at the T-Mobile Arena, and there are some world-class acts such as Cirque du Soleil entertaining visitors to Sin City.
eSports is just another way to attract more visitors to Las Vegas. Sure, the casinos want to know how to make money from eSports, but part of the reason they are building arenas is to get feet on the ground.
Around 20 percent of people who visit Las Vegas do not gamble. And, out of those that do, some of them spend little money on the activity. This is why casinos offer other forms of entertainment to attract non-gamblers.
eSports is a form of entertainment, and the HyperX Arena attracted more than 300,000 visitors in 2019. These numbers will grow, and the casinos and hotels will gain customers, publicity, and more gambling revenue.
That is why Las Vegas loves eSports.