If you think about your typical Las Vegas Casino, or its online offering, and then compare that with your typical esports tournament, then at first glance the two share almost no similarities at all.
Or do they?
If there are two industries that have managed to negotiate the pandemic positively, it has been the esports industry (which not only continues to grow, but at an accelerated rate) and the online casino industry, it is fair to say that both industries are in rude health.
Yet dig a little deeper and there are more similarities. Esports betting is a particularly fast-growing part of the esports community and betting is, of course, a key part of what happens in any casino.
Both industries are seeking to expand their appeal into different demographics and it hasn’t taken the movers and shakers in either industry too long to realise that there are not only key similarities between the esports industry and casino gaming, but that there are enough fundamental differences that are entirely beneficial to each other.
Hence, the concept of the ‘esports casino’ has often been mooted over the last 12-18 months or so.
So what is a typical esports casino? Does such a thing exist? Why would it? What purpose would it serve for either casino gamers or esports enthusiasts and what attempts have been made by casinos and esports providers to converge the two industries together to give it mass appeal across both demographics?
In this article, that is precisely what we will attempt to find out.
The Esports Casino – A Difficult Merger Of Two Separate Worlds?
As we have mentioned, the demographics of casino gamers and esports fans seem to be very different. Esports fans tend to be younger, aged between 18-36 and have an interest in online gaming, esports, computing and the like.
Casino customers have sometimes, somewhat unkindly, been called the ‘baccarat generation’ which suggests that they are considerably older and as such, not likely to be interested in esports gaming.
Now, of course, that is a simplified generalisation of the situation within both industries, but it generally rings true.
Where both industries do converge, is their quest to appeal to a broader demographic and in this respect, combining their resources makes perfect sense.
Casinos are desperate to bring in customers from Generation Z and Millennials, which have proven to be so difficult to attract in the modern era.
This has led to the notion of the esports casino, a place where you can blend esports gaming with recreational gambling in a number of innovative ways, in the hope of appealing to both demographics.
How Have Casinos Attempted To Appeal To Esports Customers And Vice Versa?
Perhaps the easiest way casinos have attempted to tap into the esports community is by simply offering esports betting alongside its sports betting service. Some of the top sites, such as Bitcasino.io and Arlekin Casino offer esports betting alongside their extensive casino offerings.
This is in addition to a number of primarily sports betting sites that have expanded to offer esports betting, as well as offering their own casino gaming sites, such as Betway and Pinnacle. These sites are one of a number of betting sites that have also worked hard to develop a presence in the esports industry by sponsoring teams and tournaments.
However, the strategy to appeal to esports fans has been more sophisticated than simply offering betting odds on tournaments and sponsoring teams and events. Some companies, like Betway, have developed their own bespoke casino games based on esports games or teams.
Additionally, companies that are predominantly esports betting focused have also been moving in the same direction too. Rivalry, for example, have released a brand new casino game called Rushlane that has been specifically designed to appeal to an esports audience.
It is abundantly clear therefore that there is a huge overlap in what these sites are starting to offer to casino gamers and esports followers.
However, the two industries have also been moved closer together in other ways too. In 2018, Complexity Gaming were the first esports organisation in the United States to agree an official sponsorship deal with a casino, the WinStar World Casino And Resort.
And there is now a Las Vegas casino that is moving into the esports industry in a big way. The HyperX Esports Arena is located at the Luxor Hotel And Casino, one of the most famous hotels on the strip, and the huge facility has been specifically designed to appeal to esports fans, as well as being able to host offline tournaments.
It has therefore become increasingly apparent that with a little work, the casino industry and the esports industry can share an almost symbiotic relationship and one that goes far beyond the creation of dedicated esports casinos.
So, if we are to create hybrid esports casinos and betting sites and arenas, what do they need to offer?
What Features Does An Esports Casino Need To Offer?
We can already assume that an esports casino would offer a combination of casino games, esports betting and of course, esports-themed or inspired casino games. However, appealing to such a divergent community requires far more.
For the esports generation, the importance of offering cryptocurrency as a payment method is also a serious consideration, given how popular many of the top cryptocurrencies are becoming within the esports betting industry. However, a dedicated esports casino would also need to offer more fiat payment methods that are familiar to the older generation of casino gamers too.
Another consideration is simply to recognise that there will be people in both demographics that are just not interested in the other. So, for these individuals, an esports casino will also need to offer dedicated casino gaming, as well as dedicated esports betting opportunities.
There is also the question of how you market the casino and its attractions. The use of social media platforms, especially those frequently used by esports fans and gamers, would need to be a significant part of any promotional strategy going forward, as would advertising through the usual channels.
In truth, there are many potential ways esports casinos can appeal to both demographics, while retaining the appeal that both industries hold separately. The exciting thing is, we are only just at the start of that process, and it is going to be incredibly exciting to see how that develops in years to come.
Esports Casino Gaming – The Future For Both Esports And Casino Gaming?
So, are hybrid esports casinos likely to be the future for both the esports and casino gaming industries?
There is no doubt that each industry has enough appeal within its own demographic to thrive for a long time on its own. However, there is also a realisation that for each industry to gain broader appeal, they need to work together to become more attractive across the different generations.
That process has now started in earnest and while we will see esports and casinos integrate more over time, I think such a process will be slow, subtle and done in such a way as not to alienate fans of either industry.
There’s no doubt that esports and casino gaming will share some kind of future together and that this future does look bright for both industries, as well as those that love esports and casino gaming.