Could Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall Become an Esports Hub?
INGAME Esports announced it plans to bring more esporting events to Atlantic City casinos over the next year. INGAME is working with the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) to bring a whole slate of video game tournaments to Atlantic City.
Anthony Gaud, the president of INGAME Esports, said he a variety of electronic sports leagues, prominent teams, and investment organizations had expressed interest in a heightened Atlantic City presence. When the Press of Atlantic City asked Gaud for names, he declined to provide details.
The INGAME president instead said, “The competitions, which represent part of a billion-dollar industry, would be held in venues owned by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.”
He added, “We’re working with the city to ensure [that] eSports benefits everyone.”
Esports Events at Boardwalk Hall or ACCC
That would mean either Boardwalk Hall or the Atlantic City Convention Center. Both have the capacity to host major eSports tournaments. After his discussion with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, Mr. Gaud said he hoped to announce multiple events in the first few months of 2019.
The comments were made on Thursday, as Stockton University’s Atlantic City campus was hosting its first-ever eSports summit.
Atlantic City: Esports Hub
Atlantic City has become a hub of eSports activity over the past 2 to 3 years. While Atlantic City casino operators say they still are figuring out how best to monetize eSports tournaments, the casinos believe there is a future in electronic sports events.
Ocean Resort Casino is hosting an eSports event this weekend, as part of the eSports summit. Harrah’s Resort was the site of the Rainbow Six Siege Pro League Finals in May 2018.
Management said eSports circuit event attendees do not frequent the gaming floor as much as convention or concert attendees. Instead, the casinos sell food and drink to the customers, who have come from along the eastern seaboard to the eSports events held.
Esports Is a $1.23 Billion Industry
Super Date released a report earlier this year which estimated the eSports industry would be worth $1.23 billion by 2019. The prize money on the electronic sports circuits grows each year. In fact, the prize pool is expected to more-than-double in the coming year.
In 2017, the global professional video game circuit combined for a total prize pool of $93 million. That is expected to grow again in 2018, but it will double simply from the contribution of Epic Games.
Epic Games, the publisher of Fortnite, said it would contribute $100 million to prize pools for a Fortnite eSports circuit. With such cash on the line, all of the most famous and prestigious eSports franchises likely will field their own Fortnite teams.
Anthony Gaud and ACEC
INGAME Esports is still a newcomer to most followers of Atlantic City casino news, but Anthony Gaud is known to the local business community. In February 2018, Anthony Gaud met with the Atlantic County Economic Conference (ACEC) to discuss the burgeoning video game tournament industry.
Later, Gaud met with the same officials about expanding eSports events beyond the casino sites. Gaud said he pitched Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall as the natural place to host local eSports events.
Boardwalk Hall: Esports Mecca?
Boardwalk Hall has a central hall with 14,770 seats and a theater which has a capacity of 3,200 seats. Concurrent events could be held over a long weekend for eSports events. The INGAME president envisions “major, minor, and championship events on a quarterly and monthly basis” in Boardwalk Hall.
Gaud added that a site like Boardwalk Hall would help establish an identity for Atlantic City among the eSports crowd as a video game destination point. He added, “Having a permanent home would definitely be beneficial.”
Matthew Spevak Is Excited by Esports
Matthew Spevak, the chairman of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, will be the key official in deciding on the Boardwalk Hall plan. The CRDA must sign off on all events at Boardwalk Hall.
Spevak said he has met with Anthony Gaud and expressed excitement at the possibilities. Spevak told the Press of Atlantic City, “We’ve met with INGAME about bringing esports events to Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall, and we’re excited about the possibilities they’ve spoken about.”