Las Vegas may be ‘something special’ for esports industry

It’s an industry that does not yet completely exist but is expected to generate millions of dollars.

“Las Vegas is going to be something special for esports,” said Carson Knuth, co-founder of LEET, a startup that has been operating esports tournaments at the Downtown Grand since January 2016. “We’re all just finding where we fit into that ecosystem.”

The emerging global esports industry generated $352 million in revenue in 2015 and is slated to generate $1.1 billion in 2019, according to a 2016 report by Newzoo, a provider of market intelligence covering the global games, esports and mobile markets.

Knuth was one of about 30 people representing a variety of possible esports industry stakeholders, including Caesars Entertainment Corp., the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and the Nevada Film Office, who attended the first meeting of its kind the evening of June 27, hosted by the Nevada Esports Alliance.

The alliance is a nonprofit organization that plans to position the state as the center for esports, which is the convergence of video gaming and the casino industry. That convergence will ultimately look like esports tournaments taking place inside casinos, with casino operators providing fans with ways to place legal in-game bets.

The vision

Tournaments would be specifically targeted to the audience of the video game featured at the tournament, as different games have very different audiences with different preferences.

“I like watching the best players play and so forth, but there has to be more than just watching the event for some of these gamers,” said Las Vegas-based Johnathan Wendel, who is perhaps better known as FATAL1TY. Wendel is the world’s first prominent and accomplished professional video gamer. He has won about $450,000 in cash and prizes from professional competitions.

Wendel said tournaments should have an area for gamers to play, meet people, learn about and play new games in addition to having areas for gamers to watch matches.

Casino operators will have to learn their audience inside and out, providing food and retail options that esports audiences enjoy. A 2017 Newzoo report projected esports fans to spend about $63.7 million on merchandise and tickets this year.

“The esports fan base and community believes a lot in authenticity and anything that they deem inauthentic is almost immediately rejected,” Frank Villarreal, the founder of Las Vegas-based esports organization Rogue, told the Nevada Esports Alliance attendees. “That’s the difference between no one and everyone showing up to an event.”

Esports in Las Vegas

Gambling: Problem and solution

One of the most complicated aspects of the vision, both from a regulatory and technical standpoint, is regulating in-game wagering. There is already a robust esports in-game betting market, but it’s illegal.

A 2016 report by Narus Advisors and Eilers & Krejcik estimated the total number of esports gambling wagers to be valued at $3 billion in 2017, growing to $12.9 billion in 2020.

“This is the market for it,” said Jennifer Roberts, another alliance founder as well as associate director of UNLV’s International Center for Gaming Regulation. “If we could get regulation and facilitation, creating the convergence between wagering and esports, that right there would be huge.”

Regulating that market entails working with regulators including the Nevada Gaming Commission, possibly game publishers and a host of people on the technical side to ensure the integrity of the sport, both on the side of the player and the casino operator.

“The real issue we’re having right now is most publishers don’t want their game to be considered a gambling game,” said Robby Sirfus, esports community director and event organizer with FiveGen.

FiveGen and Chicago-based Vault Innovation are developing an esports identity authenticator, which will securely link a gamer’s real world identity to their virtual identity, which will help industry regulators (which have yet to be developed) police cheating and enforce standards (which also have yet to be developed).

Ian Smith, based in the United Kingdom, is working to help the industry develop said standards as commissioner of the Esports Integrity Coalition.

A.G. Burnett, chairman of the Gaming Control Board, signed a memorandum of understanding with Smith in February.

If those in the industry don’t develop their own regulations, outsiders will force likely unwanted regulations on them, Smith said.

Timing

The timing is right for Nevada’s esports industry to cobble itself together, Villarreal said.

Legal recreational marijuana sales will likely be a draw for esports fans, he said.

Event organizers will also likely benefit from California’s high state individual income tax rate at 13.3 percent, which applies to esports prize money, compared with Nevada’s zero state income tax.

Villarreal moved to Las Vegas from California last year specifically because he saw the potential for Las Vegas’ esports industry.

While on a business trip to Las Vegas 18 months ago he was heavily courted by people wanting to learn more about how to get into esports.

“Even if I wasn’t being courted, the fact that so many people were interested and had so many resources at their disposal made it really interesting to me,” Villarreal said. “In the next five years we’re going to see esports become much more mainstream,” Villarreal said.

“If Vegas positions itself now as the hub for esports in North America, it will reap the rewards of all of those live events, medium broadcasting rights and television programming.”

Contact Nicole Raz at nraz@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512. Follow @JournalistNikki on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Business
MGM Grand Plans To Add Retail And Dining To Its Strip Facade
MGM Grand President and Chief Operating Officer Scott Sibella said executives are “discussing redeveloping that entire frontage of the building out to the Las Vegas Strip.” (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Boyd Gaming planning new corporate campus
Casino operator Boyd Gaming Corp. has filed plans to build a new corporate campus. The plans call for two 10-story office buildings and a six-level parking garage in the southwest Las Vegas Valley. Boyd Gaming operates The Orleans, the Suncoast, downtown's California Hotel and other properties. The new headquarters would be just a mile from its current main office building.
Bellagio Conservatory transformed to celebrate Year of the Pig
The Bellagio Conservatory Team transformed the 14,000 square foot conservatory to commemorate Chinese New Year, the holiday that marks the end of the coldest days of winter. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Intro uses sound to connect people
Intro, a startup that is part of the Future Worlds Accelerator in the UK, has an app that uses ultrasonic sound to find people and companies nearby.
CES 2019 Video: CES wraps up another year
Time-lapse video of the action at CES 2019 in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Create your own beauty products
Beauty Mix by BeautyByMe is a product that lets you create your own cosmetics and beauty products. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Picobrew’s home brew machine
Picobrew brings automation to homebrewing. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Surviving CES
What it's like to spend four days working the mammoth tech convention. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Haier’s smart home
Haier presented smart home technology at CES 2019.
CES 2019 VIDEO: Foldimate makes laundry day easy
Foldimate has created a machine that will fold your laundry for you. Just feed it anything you need folded and it will do the rest. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Opte device corrects skin spots
Opte from Proctor and Gamble is a device for correcting spots and freckles from skin. It analyzes the area for spots and then covers them with a serum of matching skin tone. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Circa hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas unveiled
Derek Stevens reveals Circa hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas. He plans open by the end of 2020. (K.M Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Circa, new casino coming to Fremont Street
Casino owner Derek Stevens announces his new property Circa, coming to Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas in late 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dreenk My Oeno makes wine suggestions
At CES 2019 in Las Vegas, the Dreenk My Oeno tells you all about wine.
Polaroid One Step Plus camera unveiled at CES 2019
Polaroid has moved into the digital age with its One Step Plus camera with Bluetooth. With the connected app, it turns your smartphone into a remote for the camera, along with filters and features.
Amazon is everywhere at CES 2019 in Las Vegas
Seemingly everything works with Amazon Alexa
LG Smart Mirror helps you dress snazzy
LG’s Smart Mirror is less of a mirror but more of an assistant to help get you looking snazzy. It takes your image and recommends clothes for you or matches existing clothes with new clothes, which can be purchased right from the mirror. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Underwater robots make waves at CES 2019 in Las Vegas
Robosea is a company dedicated to underwater robotics. They produce consumer robots for underwater filming as well as commercial products which can be used for underwater research. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019 - Victrola record players spin in Las Vegas
A new spin on an old favorite, Victrola record players are meeting a demand for retro products. The brand is also making furnitures with built-in speakers.
CES 2019: Slamtec robots ready to serve
Slamtec is a robotics company out of China whose goal is to provide solutions for laser localization mapping and navigation. They have created two autonomous robots that can be used in areas such as bars, restaurants and malls. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mixologiq drink maker appears at CES 2019 in Las Vegas.
This is the Mixologiq drink maker.
CES 2019: Veritable smart garden
Let’s face it; not all of us have green thumbs. And herbs are particularly difficult to grow, considering their constant need for sunshine. Enter the Veritable smart garden from Exky, which does it all for you. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bonnie Springs Ranch near Las Vegas being sold to developer
Bonnie Springs Ranch near Las Vegas is being sold to a developer, set to close in March. Bonnie Springs, west of Las Vegas off State Route 159 — next to Spring Mountain Ranch State Park — spans more than 60 acres and was on the market for $31 million. The developer and his project partner are under contract to buy the ranch and plan to chop it up mostly into custom-home lots. The plans includes a 25-room motel, a restaurant and a 5,400-square-foot event barn.
Bone-conduction headphones form Aftershokz
Aftershokz offers bone-conduction headphones - headphones that don’t go in the ear.
CES Happy Hour party at Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace
Conventioneers mingled during the Hardware Massive CES 2019 Happy Hour Bash at The Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Autonomous Cars and Futuristic Aircraft Rule CES
Day two of CES was dominated by autonomous cars and futuristic aircraft in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
TekNekSavr fights neck problems caused by smart phones
Atiya Syverson invented the TekNekSavr to help fight neck and head problems caused by strains while typing on smart phones. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New eyeglasses know if you fall and call for help
The French company Abeye has created eye glasses that will detect if the wearer falls and call for help. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Company that creates vibrator-like device claims genders bias against CES
Lora DiCarlo is a women-run start-up that creates a vibrator-like device designed for female pleasure called the Osé. This year they were awarded the CES Innovation Award in the Robotics and Drone Category, but a month later the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES, rescinded the award and their booth. Haddock and her team believe it is a reflection of gender bias and sexism in an industry with a long history of male domination.
CES-Wagz has new pet products
Wagz has three new products to help create better lives for your pets in a digital world. One is a collar with LTE tracking and an HD camera. Also a smart pet door that only lets your pet in and out. Lastly, a device to humanely keep Fluffy out of certain areas of your home. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like