Las Vegas and esports. How have casinos embraced esports?

Posted on January 25, 2021

Esports gambling and esports betting has traditionally been an online only enterprise for a long time. The widespread nature of the sport and the fact that teams and organisation are spread out around the globe means that there may not be enough fans to create a land-based betting option.

Many online sportsbooks like Bet365 and DraftKings already have deep links with the esports industry but esports in casinos and esports in Las Vegas in particular has taken a longer time to build up steam.

However, the link between esports and casinos are a lot closer than you would believe. 2020 forced a lot of the world inside and cancelled many major sporting events. Esports, and esports gambling rushed to fill the void.

Esports and Las Vegas, what’s the link?

Esports gambling in the U.S. has improved by leaps and bounds in the past few years, especially in Nevada and New Jersey. The former’s casino, or entertainment venues, offering has naturally played a major role in that.

The casinos look at esports not just as another event that can be gambled on, instead they take a much wider approach to the sport. Esports gives the casinos a whole new set of events and consumers to bring to their entertainment hubs.

Let’s take a look at some of the major connections between casino esports and gambling:

  • In 2016, the first casino to take odds on esports events in the US was the Downtown Grand Casino. Casino esports betting at the Downtown Grand became a part of their offering after they offered bets on a League of Legends event back in 2016.
  • In 2018, the MGM resorts group finished construction of the Hyper X Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The 30,000 square foot facility was designed to create a casual esports experience for fans, whilst also hosting a range of offline tournaments in their 1,500-seater venue.
  • Before the building of the Hyper X Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. MGM also hosted esports events at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. They also created the Level Up Lounge in the Luxor, although that was more focused on tech rather than esports gambling.
  • Caesars Entertainment is working with the University of Nevada Las Vegas. They are building a new technology hub explicitly for gaming and hospitality. As part of their collaboration, they have created the Black Fire Innovation, which is a replica resort and casino complete with its own esports arena.

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How do they profit from esports?

Esports betting is not the only incentive that online and land-based casinos see from the competitive gaming scene. While esports betting and gambling will certainly become a popular attraction for gamblers at land-based casinos in the coming years, there are other reasons to invest in the sport.

Many casinos see esports as a chance to advertise and gain the interest of a younger demographic. By investing in esports in Las Vegas they can optimise their revenue and target their brands to younger consumers. MGM took this to the logical conclusion of building an esports facility and tournament venue. By selling tickets to esports events and making an area in a casino approachable for esports fans, they have increased their footfall and profit.

Final thoughts

As esports gambling and betting become more accepted in states across the U.S. casinos, bookmakers and online betting operators are beginning to realise that esports betting, and even virtual sports betting, is the next big thing to invest in to secure their place in the years to come.

It goes both ways, the esports industry and esports betting sites are also starting to understand that casino attractions can be useful additions to their offerings. Sites like Unikrn and Pinnacle not only offer extensive odds on a variety of esports titles, they also offer a wide range of casino games and live casino offerings to their users.

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Andrew Boggs

Andrew is a Northern Ireland based journalist with a background in esports and VR reporting. He grew up in County Down, Northern Ireland, and graduated from Ulster University with a Masters's degree in Journalism.

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