Nevada is known for many things, most of them centered on Las Vegas. The state’s expansive gaming policy is responsible for the majority of its tourism, and officials are keeping an eye out for new opportunities. Some of those opportunities may lie in the lucrative eSports industry. The Gaming Policy Committee met last week, together with Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, to hear presentations from representatives of the eSports industry. The goal was to begin developing strategies to pull eSports under the umbrella of Nevada’s wider gaming industry.
"It capitalizes on the fact that we are the global center for gaming and hospitality," said Steve Hill, director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, during the May 13 meeting. "We are the place that everyone looks to when it comes to regulation and making sure that these types of games can happen ... in a way that people can trust."
Two of the main topics of discussion on the agenda included “eSports and the Next Generation of Gaming,” and “Online Gaming and Future Opportunities for Nevada.”
If the committee decides to take eSports and the “cyber athletes” who compete in then seriously, the state is in a great position to take advantage of opportunities there. Existing Nevada laws and regulations would allow people to wager on the outcome of video game tournaments as they do on other sports or bet against each other poker-style, with the house taking a cut of the action. That would be a boon for a state that wants to keep an edge in an evolving gambling industry, according to the Associated Press.
Committee members met with a former professional Call of Duty player and the CEO of a video game league during their exploratory session. The activity involves people watching other people play video games, often through live, interactive broadcasts. Currently, eSports features a number of professional leagues that play various popular video games.
There is a considerable amount of money to be made in eSports. Large tournaments such as The International, the League of Legends World Championship, the Battle.net World Championship Series, the Evolution Championship Series, and the Intel Extreme Masters are covered by live broadcasts, prize money and salaries are high, and viewership is considerable. As a spectator sport, eSports began in South Korea, but their popularity has spread throughout Europe and North America. Very successful players have become celebrities among video game and eSports enthusiasts.
eSports is also starting to bring in significant marketing sponsors. Turner’s TBS recently signed up three marketing partners – Arby’s, Credit Karma and Buffalo Wild Wings -- for “ELEAGUE,” its new eSports/competition gaming series. All three brands have signed on first and second season of the show, set to launch Tuesday, May 24 on digital platforms, according to Media Post.
Nevada may be influenced by some events that have happened in the state recently. In mid-April, tMGM Resorts International hosted 10,000 fans at a packed Mandalay Bay Events Center for an eSports competition. Some companies — Fifth Street Gaming and its Downtown Grand property, for example — have already taken the initial steps toward building an eSports foundation in Southern Nevada, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.