Esports & Casino Resorts – Day 1

26 October 2016


The Esports & Casino Resorts conference got underway yesterday with Narus Advisors Partner and organiser Chris Grove chatting with Seth Schorr, the CEO of Fifth Street Gaming the company behind the Downtown Grand which has, thus far, been esports’ main home in Las Vegas.

Schorr noted how casinos have shifted from being just that into integrated resorts, and that at the Downtown Grand for example, it was designed purposefully so as to allow hotel guests to not have to walk through the casino should they not choose to. The theme of the importance of offering consumers, and esports fans, a total hospitality experience featured in this point, and it was one which was reiterated throughout the day. esportscasinoresorts-levinealejandre

The CEO of ESL, Craig Levine, said that they try to offer the full package to both attendees and players, and that Vegas is uniquely well placed to facilitate this. For the players he noted that it is the “smaller measures which ensure event success” and making esports pros “feel like rock stars” is part of this. Whether that’s having them picked up in a limo to giving them a top suite, it’s gestures such as this which will ensure your event gets a positive response from these players, who tend to be major influencers on social.

Levine also discussed what they look for from venue partners is how can they help to save costs, and how can they help to fill seats. Alongside Levine on the ‘How to host an esports event’ panel was Christina Alejandre, GM and VP of Esports at Turner, who urged the importance of timing when hosting esports events. She explained how events in esports can easily overrun, so organisers need to be prepared for this by either choosing a central, easy to access location (such as the Barclays Center) or at the least having a plan in place to keep attendees happy and entertained should longer than expected wait times occur.

Other takeaways from day one included Amazon’s Brian Hong and Jeff Liboon discussing their ambitions in mobile esports, with Liboon confidently stating: “We can dominate mobile esports”.  Prior to this Gaming Insights Consultant Roberto Coppola discussed how esports can fit into a casino floorplan with Adam Krejcik, of research firm Eilers and Krejcik Gaming.

Imari Oliver, of WME IMG, who during an energetic presentation which included baby and pets cosplay and which rappers have the most diverse vocabulary lyrically speaking, highlighted one figure which claimed that 45% of esports fans are team loyalists. He also urged authenticity when entering and being in the space, and that brands and companies should be in it for the long term not the short term if they want to see gains.

‘3 views on the esports fan’ was debated by Alex Fletcher, President of Entiva Group, Justin Dellario, Senior Program Manager at Twitch and Phil O’Shaughnessy, Senior Director of Global Communications and Gaming at IGT. The verdict that esports still offers fans a far greater level of engagement with their idols than traditional sports was agreed upon by all, whilst Dellario noted that as digital savvy fans esports consumers tend to migrate to the newest and fastest growing social media platforms in large numbers. As such Dellario said it is integral to keep tabs on these and be present “because esports fans will be there”.

In the final session before lunch esports start-ups and investing in the industry was debated by Ann Lai, an industry consultant and Tony Potts, Partner of SierraMaya360, with Lai pushing for start-ups in the space to ensure they have a sustainable and viable business model in place, regardless of how fantastic the idea is. As Potts put it: “Awesome doesn’t pay the bills.”

In the afternoon sessions, Manny Anekal of Versus Sports delivered a talk on sponsorships and current trends in esports before Moritz Maurer of Betgenius gave a demonstration of their latest CS:GO live betting product, an impressive looking product which Maurer stated “offers quick fire market types and instant gratification”.


The day was brought to a close with a look at bringing esports to the casino floor which featured GameCo CEO Blaine Graboyes and Gamblit Gaming CMO Darion Lowenstein presenting their products and discussing the huge potential it has for operators.

Attendees were also able to try out GameCo’s VGM (video game gambling machines), which entered their primary casinos officially last week, for themselves.

The conference isn’t over yet, so be sure to check in on Twitter (@esportsinsider_ and #Naruscope) for live coverage of today’s sessions and the outcome of the Manatt Digital Startup Launchpad.

Esports Insider says: A well executed day one which featured a number of engaging sessions with some high profile speakers. Moreover, few will have left with any doubt of the sizable potential esports has for the casino and wider igaming industry.