UNLV, Caesars partner to create innovation space

May 1, 2019 3:00 AM

UNLV and Caesars Entertainment have partnered to create a gaming and hospitality technology innovation space in southwest Las Vegas.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, the 43,000-square-foot education hub will feature mock hotel rooms, a casino floor and a sportsbook.

Dubbed “Black Fire Innovation,” the academic incubator will be located within UNLV’s Harry Reid Research & Technology Park. It will also include an e-sports arena and virtual reality facilities.

The hope is to help the gaming industry move forward in an educational setting with an emphasis on gaming technology. The space is expected to be open before the end of the year.

“This collaboration with Caesars Entertainment will strengthen UNLV’s role as a research leader and further elevate Las Veags as the global intellectual capital for gaming and hospitality,” UNLV president Marta Meana said in a statement. “Collaborations like Black Fire also give our students unparalleled access to experts at the forefront of the industry.”

Black Fire will be located in a four-story, 111,000-square-foot building on the footprint of the under-construction technology park, which is a collaboration between the university, the UNLV Research Foundation and Gardner Company, a real estate firm.

Caesars has a four-year lease for the space and two automatic four-year extensions, according to records from the April 12 Board of Regents meeting. Black Fire will occupy about a floor and a half in the building, which is expected to cost around $35 million.

e-sports betting in Illinois?

As Illinois debates whether or not to legalize sports betting, one component not in the mainstream is being talked about as a possible target for bettors.

Electronic gaming, or e-sports competitions for games like DOTA II, League of Legends and Fortnite are growing in popularity and could lead to wagering on e-sports.

Bob Greenlee of eSports company Tusk Strategies argued that eSports are more popular and professional than many people think.

According to the Jacksonville (Ill.) Journal Courier, one of the nation’s best Fortnite players, “Ninja” Blevins, made as much as $10 million in sponsorships last year.

A 2018 League of Legends tournament, meanwhile, attracted 205 million live viewers, compared to just more than 100 million viewers of the Super Bowl that year.

“e-sports is a real thing,” said Margo McDermed, R-Mokena, adding that she learned about it recently while on Netflix. “I hadn’t really considered it as something Illinois should include in our future gaming, but perhaps we should.”