It was virtually a year ago to the day where we asked the question as to whether casinos and eSports could develop a thriving future partnership.
The consensus was that it was the Baby Boomer generation that were gaining the most enjoyment from existing casino games, while millennials typically found them, particularly slots, fairly shallow, lacking in interactivity and failing to offer anything in the way of a social reward.
However, steps were being taken at the time to enhance the appeal of casinos to younger adults. This included the launch of a Casino eSport Conference and probable discussions surrounding casino venues and the hosting of high-profile eSports tournaments.
The latter can now happen on a regular basis in Las Vegas, with the Strip housing its first permanent eSports venue.
Head to The Luxor to see see eSports
Given that the eSports industry generated $892 million in revenue during 2016, it is obvious as to why Vegas believes there is money to be made from an industry that continues to boom.
And eSports market research company Newzoo has projected revenues to reach $1.4 billion by 2020.
The Luxor Hotel and Casino can now look to gain a share of such revenues following the opening of its 30,000 square foot multi-level arena. This has been created in the same location that previously housed the Ra and LAX nightclubs.
Last year, an audience of 57.6 million witnessed the eSports World Championship. To put this into context, this was close to double the number that tuned in for the NBA Finals.
Allied eSports, the world’s leading network of eSports venues, completed the unveiling, with CEO Jud Hannigan stating: “Gamers are craving a social experience.
“They want to socialise with people who share that same passion and feel like they’re in the middle of the action. That’s what we’re after here.”
Anyone can play eSports at The Luxor
However, it shouldn’t be assumed that the eSports Arena is to be used only for professional events.
Although the plan is host a minimum of 25 major events each year, players can literally walk in whenever they want 24/7 and compete in a tournament of some description. These will link players digitally throughout the world.
Players can opt to pay by the hour or buy either half-day or all-day passes, with the Arena large enough to fit close to 1,000 bodies.
In terms of gaining entry, visitors first make their way through an arcade bar, where they are greeted with the opportunity to play classic titles such as Street Fighter and Pac Man.
Once inside the gaming theatre, there is a competition stage, alongside row after row of various consoles. Virtual reality is also an option.
The importance of team play
Flexibility is paramount, with the option of not only setting up individual head-to-head match-ups, but team games too. These could be 3v3 or 5v5 showdowns.
Much like other sports teams, eSports organisations have squads of ‘athletes’. Team Liquid earned total prize money of $18,231,389.11 last year, playing games including Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
All play is projected onto a 50-foot long, two-story-high video wall, with fans able to watch the action for free. The video wall also shows stats from the games in progress.
Head upstairs from the stadium and facilities are present to support the progression and recording of the live tournaments.
For the players, there are VIP rooms, team clubhouses to talk tactics and private owners’ boxes to get the best view of the action as it happens. There is even a broadcast booth so that live commentary can accompany the games.
The menu at the eSports Arena has been created by Spanish-American chef Jose Andres, who is also said to be a keen gambler.
With keyboards and greasy foods not mixing especially well, other practical foods are featured. These include rice bowls, maki and flatbreads.
The Vegas venue is not the first location in North America to be a dedicated eSports facility. A 15,000 square-foot hub was previously created in California in 2015. Allied eSports entered a strategic investment partnership with this venue.
Allied eSports has a mission to build a “global network of eSports arenas from which to host tournaments and leagues and develop new content formats for eSports”.
Therefore, it would make logical sense to expect an expansion into other worldwide markets, with Europe and south-east Asia likely locations.
Another future development could be the capacity to bet on eSports within the venues. This can currently be done online with some sports bookmakers.