eSports in Vegas could be part of the future

Mar 29, 2016 3:09 AM

Sportsbook bosses are keeping watchful eyes on the eSports business just as they also continue to monitor the evolution of daily fantasy sports.

The question that matters: Will either eventually bring them business opportunities?

ESports could eventually have a big impact on their business, or, the budding worldwide fascination with it could fade away to be replaced by another trend. The point being, possibilities for change are moving toward their corner of the gaming world.

“Look at the daily fantasy sports business,” says Art Manteris, vice president of race and sportsbook operations at Station Casinos. “There’s been a ton of conversation about its possibilities here, but talk is not to be confused with money in the bank,” which has yet to arrive.

But changing customer interests are keeping sportsbook operators on a high alert mode. The pell-mell pace of change is not likely to slow any time soon.

Millennials with money to spend don’t look at Las Vegas the way their parents did.

And sports-related wagering in its myriad forms is one of the last frontiers available to the American gaming business, thanks to the restrictions placed on business by out-dated federal rules.

The fascination with the daily fantasy business and this thing called eSports is getting attention. Actually, AGA President Geoff Freemen says, they NEED attention before the customer demand for eSports reaches Las Vegas casinos and the casinos have nothing to offer because the rules casino gaming needs have not been written.

Las Vegans will have their chance for a close look at the excitement competitive electronic game-playing has been generating when the spring season champions of the North American League of Legends will be determined with competition April 16-17, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

What does it all mean to Nevada sportsbooks? Not much at the moment, but that could quickly shift as marketers continue whetting global appetites and regulators work out the rules that create profit-making opportunities.

“One of the challenges in regulating DFS, eSports and who knows what’s next,” Freeman said recently in Las Vegas, “is that they don’t fit into the traditional regulatory and statutory silos. They’re not like slot machines or other standard casino games. They’re new platforms that present unique sets of questions. The challenge is to build an effective framework for bringing these new platforms into the world of regulation without harming the very qualities that make these products innovative in the first place.”

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: [email protected].