Esports is one of the hottest topics in the gambling industry today and we’ve been noticing more and more time dedicated to esports at major gambling industry events. In fact, the interest from our industry is now strong enough to warrant dedicated esports and gambling conferences, such as the upcoming Esports & Casino Resorts in Las Vegas.
From October 25th to 26th the SLS Las Vegas will host Esports & Casino Resorts, a two-day conference dedicated to esports education for the commercial gambling industry. CalvinAyre.com spoke with Chris Grove, one of the main professionals behind the event, to learn more about what delegates can expect from attending.
Thank you for joining me today, Chris- its always a pleasure. Why did you decide to launch Esports & Casino Resorts? When did you identify the opportunity?
I go to my fair share of gambling industry conferences and over the last year or two I’ve noticed that Esports-related content has become a fixture. But the learning curve around the topic is so steep that many panels end up running out of time just getting through the introduction.
I thought a standalone conference focused exclusively on a deep dive into the immediate Esports opportunity for the commercial gambling industry would be a good antidote to that trend. That was the foundation for Esports & Casino Resorts.
Naruscope is the name behind Esports & Casino Resorts, what is it and who are the brains behind it?
Naruscope is a conference series with a specific, pragmatic focus on emerging trends and technologies related to the gambling industry.
Esports & Casino Resorts is the first installment in that series. The conference is co-produced by Narus Advisors and Roger Gros of Global Gaming Business. Roger’s extensive background in event production – including some of the largest conferences in our industry – has been invaluable as we’ve gone through the process of crafting and executing this event.
Yes, I can imagine- Roger Gros is an incredibly well respected personality in the gambling industry and for good reason. How will Esports & Casino Resorts different from other eSports events we’ve heard about (or attended) such as the Bullet Business Betting on Esports event and the Esports Conference in Los Angeles?
Those are both excellent events and I think there’s value in attending all three. The Esports conference in Los Angeles is aimed more at an esports industry audience, and the Bullet Business program focused primarily on betting on esports (largely within the online betting context).
Where we differ is our precise focus on offering the land-based gambling industry with a hands-on education about the current esports opportunity from a casino perspective. What’s involved in hosting a live competitive event? What are some other event opportunities that might bring new customers to property? What can you do to accommodate esports fans when they attend your events? How will esports inform the evolution of the sportsbook, or the games on the casino floor? And how will regulators digest and react to these changes?
Sounds like some solid topics to be covered, Chris. Why should esports gaming start-ups consider applying for the Launchpad taking place during Esports & Casino Resorts?
We feel pretty lucky to have Manatt as the title partner on the launchpad, and the ability for a company to access the resources they have available would be a lift for a startup at almost any stage.
I also think there’s a unique opportunity to get in front of a casino audience that is increasingly looking for answers to the question of how to integrate esports specifically, and gaming more broadly.
If your startup isn’t relevant to the casino audience, we believe that our other conference attendees – including representatives from Twitch, WME | IMG, Allied Esports, Team Liquid, Unikrn, and ELEAGUE – is definitely an audience any esports-related startup would be happy to pitch to.
I personally think you’ve created a perfect opportunity for esports start-ups. Are there any special speakers you’ve got lined up and wish to highlight?
I’m excited to have Christina Alejandre, who heads up esports for Turner Sports and was a driving force behind ELEAGUE, speaking at the conference. ELEAGUE to me is a watershed event for esports, and getting a first-hand account of the lessons learned and opportunities uncovered during the first season of ELEAGUE is something that I’m personally looking forward to.
You’ve just released a white paper on esports, can you share with us what you think is your most shocking discovery?
I’m not sure that anything was too shocking, but one thing did really stick with me.
We spent a lot of time looking at skin gambling sites (sites where players wager digital in-game items instead of cash). When you’re talking about skin gambling sites, you’re talking about a wide array of products spread across dozens and dozens of sites. We found sites offering sports betting blackjack, modified roulette, lottery games, coin flips, dice games, you name it.
But what we really saw very little of – and remember, these are largely ad hoc sites, low barrier to entry, lot of activity flowing through them, so sites really had an incentive to experiment with new game types – were slot-machine style games.
It just wasn’t a format that naturally emerged in that market. And there’s something really telling about that to me in terms of the attitude a younger set has about the slot machine as a construct – not even the underlying game mechanics or the value proposition, but the idea of a slot machine, the machine as something more symbolic. There seems to be a deeper level of rejection beyond “oh, we don’t like that kind of game” going on with slot machines, at least among esports fans.
A 27-page summary of our research is available for free, people can email me at [email protected] to request it.
Interesting, slots machines as we know them just don’t do for the younger generation for a variety of reasons, I think. Is there anything else you would like to add about Esports and Casino Resorts, Chris?
I believe that casinos have a series of unique opportunities with esports. There’s an opportunity to introduce themselves to a generation that might not otherwise think of casinos as a primary destination for entertainment, for events, for vacations. An opportunity to bring some change to the casino floor that could make gambling a more attractive proposition for a wide array of customers. And an opportunity to plant a flag at a rare point: the early days of a new class of mainstream entertainment.
That’s a great closing message Chris, thank you so much for your time today and its sounds like you’ve are shaping a truly meaningful event for the eSports industry.