Ourgame International Holdings Ltd., a Chinese company that owns a number of social gaming properties as well as the World Poker Tour, is considering opening up an eSports arena on the Las Vegas strip.
A model for Las Vegas?
First reported by J.D. Morris at Vegas Inc, Ourgame already operates an eSports arena in Beijing that could serve as a model for Las Vegas. The Beijing arena is a 14,000-square foot complex with seating, broadcast capabilities, and gaming stations for competitors.
World Poker Tour President Adam Pliska compared Ourgame’s eSports efforts to his company’s early years, when the WPT launched a series of international events, connected together over the course of a television season that culminated in an end of year championship.
When considering Ourgame’s possible intention of building a global eSports tour, the company’s acquisition of the WPT begins to make more sense. Ourgame and WPT had aligned in China and had a working relationship, but if you were to ask someone to blurt the first thing that comes to mind when you say “China,” the words, “legal poker” or “poker tour!” would be around a millionth on the list.
The WPT in particular has the in-house infrastructure and knowledge-base to roll out and execute a global tour. They also have a deep base of global land-based casino relationships to quickly build out a season of events and tournaments. And while there is no shortage of TV networks trying to figure out how to capitalize on live eSports competitions, WPT has immediate inroads to Fox Sports 1, where their broadcasts have pulled strong one-million-plus weekly cume ratings in recent seasons.
Las Vegas Strip eSports arena: Where to build it?
Attracting millennial customers is the holy grail for land-based casinos across the country right now. Appealing to the eSports crowd is a good place to start. Still, getting a casino to agree to give up valuable gaming and convention space for something new and unproven isn’t the easiest sell.
Pliska notes that “very preliminary talks” have begun with some casino operators that have expressed interest in eSports.
MGM properties like Cosmopolitan have hosted the IGN ProLeague, and Mandalay Bay will be the home to an ESPN eSports broadcast later this year.
Las Vegas betting on eSports
With a potential Las Vegas strip eSports arena in the works, Sin City is quickly becoming a hotbed for gamer activity.
The Downtown Grand planted its eSports flag last year, building an arena and positioning itself as a future hub of eSports competitions. The Downtown Grand also sponsors professional CSGO team the Las Vegas Neon.
Only time will tell if this translates into casinos drawing new customers not just to events, but to the gaming floor and sports books. It appears as if Las Vegas is increasingly betting it will.
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