Esports video games hold vast betting potential, experts say

Oct 18, 2022, 11:10 AM | Updated: 12:07 pm

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Competitive video games hold vast economic potential in the U.S. and worldwide, particularly once gambling companies figure out how to interest players and spectators in betting on them, participants in an industry conference said Tuesday.

Speaking at the Casino Esport Conference in Atlantic City, executives with video game companies and casinos agreed there is a vast upside to getting the hundreds of millions of people who play online video games interested in the casino industry.

“Esports is only going to get bigger,” said Seth Schorr, chairman of Las Vegas’ Downtown Grand casino. “It’s not a fad.”

Newzoo, the research company that tracks the world of competitive video games, also known as esports, says the global audience for these games will increase by 8.7% this year to 532 million. The games themselves will generate $1.38 billion in economic activity worldwide, a third of it coming from China, according to the company.

The conference came as the casino industry is taking tentative steps to try to integrate esports into its gambling offerings, with varying degrees of success.

The Luxor casino in Las Vegas recently built a 30,000-square-foot (2,800-square-meter) esports arena to host events and tournaments. Atlantic City’s casinos have hosted several esports tournaments, and on Monday, Stockton University officially opened its Esports Innovation Center, highlighting the growing involvement of colleges and universities in esports programs.

Scott Huston, a Stockton official, said a recent Rocket League tournament in which it participated had 50,000 online spectators.

“That is more than any traditional athletic event Stockton has ever put on,” he said.

Ahman Green, a four-time Pro Bowl running back with the Green Bay Packers, is now deeply involved in esports, including coaching the new esports program at Wisconsin’s Lakeland University.

He said his NFL teammates would play competitive video games against each other to relax during downtime, but he developed a love for the games as a young child.

Green said 2020 was a watershed year for esports when most professional sports shut down for months in the early phase of the coronavirus pandemic.

“People started finding stuff online they had never seen before,” he said. “Their kids were playing video games. ‘What’s this Twitch thing?'”

Twitch, the online platform, has 3 million to 6 million people on it at any given time, said L. Anthony Gaud, an esports and media entrepreneur. That has vast potential to generate licensed gambling revenue as regulations evolve and expand.

“It’s similar to online (casino) wagering: Instead of playing blackjack or poker, you’re playing Angry Birds,” he said. “That environment is coming. There’s going to be a wagering angle, probably a large one. It’s going to be a really big thing.”

But the marriage of video game players and casinos has yet to be consummated on a meaningful scale.

Numerous conference speakers agreed that video game players are not generally content to rely on random outcomes that determine whether they win at something — the very bread and butter of casino games like slot machines or table games. Instead, they want to feel they have some involvement in the outcome of their bet, which is why video games offer a natural on-ramp for younger players at casinos.

Schorr said the industry should concentrate at first on attracting video game players where they live: online.

“It’s good to fish where the fish are,” he said. “They’re online, not in the casinos. Start online, get them into the database before you bring them into the casinos.”

Larry Ridley, a CBS Sports HQ anchor, hosts TV programming related to esports and routinely visits casinos around the country to try to interest them in adopting video game events.

“We do these activations where people see it and want to get involved,” he said. “We have a station set up so they can create an account and play.”

Anthony Strangia, a deputy attorney general with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, said states need to ensure that video game contests are conducted honestly and transparently. Regulators in states including New Jersey and Nevada are currently considering changes to their gambling laws governing esports to make it easier to take wagers on events while ensuring their integrity.

“It’s a growing field,” he said. “There’s definitely a future.”

___

Follow Wayne Parry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WayneParryAC

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A customer holds whale meat purchased from a vending machine at Kyodo Senpaku's unmanned store, Thu...
Associated Press

Japan launches whale meat vending machines to promote sales

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — A Japanese whaling operator, after struggling for years to promote its controversial products, has found a new way to cultivate clientele and bolster sales: whale meat vending machines. The Kujira (Whale) Store, an unmanned outlet that recently opened in the port town of Yokohama near Tokyo, houses three machines for whale […]
22 hours ago
The Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-06 passes the High Class Racing ORECA LMP2 07 in a turn during a p...
Associated Press

IMSA takes North American sports cars into hybrid era

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Cadillac growls, while the Porsche and BMW scream. The Acura sounds like an Indy car, and for fun, turn your back to the track and listen carefully as the cars roar around Daytona International Speedway in a new era of IMSA sports car racing. The top prototype class has […]
22 hours ago
A new Jeep is delivered to a dealership in Pittsburgh on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. On Friday, the Comm...
Associated Press

US inflation and consumer spending cooled in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge eased further in December, and consumer spending fell — the latest evidence that the Fed’s series of interest rate hikes are slowing the economy. Friday’s report from the Commerce Department showed that prices rose 5% last month from a year earlier, down from a 5.5% year-over-year […]
22 hours ago
Mass timber affordable home prototypes are shown at the Port of Portland in Portland, Ore. Friday, ...
Associated Press

Oregon pins hopes on mass timber to boost housing, jobs

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Inside a warehouse at the industrial Port of Portland lies what some believe could be the answer to Oregon’s housing crisis — a prototype of an affordable housing unit made from mass timber. Once mass-produced at the factory being planned at the port, the units ranging from 426 square feet (40 […]
22 hours ago
FILE - The seal of the Board of Governors of the United States Federal Reserve System is displayed ...
Associated Press

Wyoming crypto bank’s Federal Reserve application denied

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Federal Reserve Board has denied a Wyoming cryptocurrency bank’s application for Federal Reserve System membership, officials announced Friday, dealing a setback to the crypto industry’s attempts to build acceptance in mainstream U.S. banking. Many in crypto have been looking to Cheyenne-based Custodia Bank’s more than 2-year-old application as a bellwether […]
22 hours ago
In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, Senior Airmen Andrew Whitener and Tyler Glodgett 341s...
Associated Press

Nuclear strike chief seeks cancer review of launch officers

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top Air Force general in charge of the nation’s air- and ground-launched nuclear missiles has requested an official investigation into the number of officers who are reporting blood cancer diagnoses after serving at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. The illnesses became publicly known this week after The Associated Press obtained […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Esports video games hold vast betting potential, experts say