The main agency for developing sustainable economic growth in the state of New Jersey, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) has revealed a new state-wide initiative that aims to support and advise businesses in the region to promote the development of the esports industry in New Jersey.
The initiative announced on September 1, will see NJEDA become a central body for the organisation of esports activity across the state of New Jersey, where they will work with local companies and individuals to support efforts to promote esports across the state. Work will begin with two key partners to that end immediately and the long-term goal is for New Jersey to become established as a major ‘epicenter’ of esports within the United States.
It is thought that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on traditional businesses within the state has played a key role in the decision as Tim Sullivan, the CEO of the NJEDA explained in a press release.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, finding. New ways to bring people together virtually and supporting industries that can thrive without in-person interaction is crucial,” he stated.
“Esports are uniquely positioned to address both of these priorities, and the NJEDA is excited to help bring the benefits of this new industry to communities throughout New Jersey.”
One of the main methods of implementing the plan is to drive interest in esports through the different esports betting opportunities that are available within the industry.
New Jersey has already looked into esports betting previously and on the same day as the press release was made public, the Division of Gaming Enforcement in the state issued its approval for the states licensed betting operators to accept bets on the VIE.gg CS:GO Legends Series event.
Key in securing the approval in the state was the fact that the online competition is monitored by the Esports Integrity Commission and will be held to the approved industry standards to ensure that each match is fairly contested.
The second approach adopted by the NJEDA is to launch a strong collegiate esports program and the plans to do this are already in place. This will be the new Conference. One (CF1) esports league for college teams, the headquarters of which will be located in New Jersey.
While the league will be located in New Jersey, it is thought more than 128 colleges from across the United States will be invited to participate in the online tournament, with the varsity esports league getting underway with an opening season based on Riot Games’ VALORANT.
Competing schools and colleges will be split into four regions, North, South, East and West and will compete in a series of round-robin matches before the top teams move on to contest the tournament finals. If a success, then the tournament organisers will seek to expand the offering to colleges to include a different selection of other esports titles.
Speaking about the creation of Conference One, the CEO of the Gaud-Hammer Group who manages the tournament, Anthony Gaud, stated:
“We look forward to collaborating with the NJEDA and other partners throughout the state to grow Conference One while supporting New Jersey’s emerging status as the hub of the American esports industry.”