The Downtown Grand in Las Vegas turned some heads back in 2017 when they announced they would be holding a viewing party for the League of Legends World Championships final.
The weight of this declaration was in the Downtown Grand’s offering of live, legalised wagers of esports, a first for the US. The function prompted the question of live esports’ casino prospect and if we can anticipate seeing its presence more often down the line as the sport continues to accelerate. For this reason, we decided to reach out to Peter Ivanov, Head of Trading at UltraPlay, to gather some insights from the betting company on its true potential.
Esports Insider: Are there any casinos currently accepting esports bets where you can watch games?
Peter Ivanov: For the last 2 years, betting on esports has been a hot topic attracting more and more online books globally. Land-based casinos are also on the way of diversifying the game floor by adding the esports betting to their product portfolio. This process started with no surprise from the gambling paradise – Las Vegas. There are several casino groups in Vegas that have already established betting on esports and use it as a marketing tool to attract those web-savvy Millennials to their gambling halls.
“That’s why many are questioning how to make Millennials visit the casinos more as they currently prefer to bet online. So, here comes the answer – esports.”
Having been in the spotlight, youngsters are the target group that can drastically increase revenues for the casino operators. That’s why many are questioning how to make Millennials visit the casinos more as they currently prefer to bet online. So, here comes the answer – esports. The new technology followers are spending much of their spare time playing video games and watching their favourite teams competing on an international level and to no surprise betting on those same teams is becoming more and more popular.
“Nevada has already started initiating international tournaments, where esports odds are offered to players, showing that esports is a profitable part of the business that still needs to unleash its true potential.”
From the operators perspective, organizing esports betting in the US is not that easy having in mind the ongoing regulations procedures and discussions. Nevada has already started initiating international tournaments, where esports odds are offered to players, showing that esports is a profitable part of the business that still needs to unleash its true potential.
As a leading esports betting data and platform provider, UltraPlay plays a key role in the discussions on how esports betting can grow both online and offline. It is important to be offered through a reliable partner with extensive experience on the market as esports holds its specifics that can be a stumbling obstacle for many newcomers. Being one of the pioneers in the industry, UltraPlay is at a stage where our products are taken to the next level – we know what is working for a betting operator and how to deliver the best solutions for players’ acquisition, retention and conversion.
Esports Insider: What’s the overall potential for esports wagering in casinos? Can we expect to see more of it soon? Can it mirror enthusiasm similar to traditional sports betting in casinos? Could it be bigger?
Peter: With the increased popularity of esports all over the world, we can definitely expect this gaming vertical to spread more into the casino floors where diversity is sought after by the operators. It is well-known that Millennials are predominantly playing esports and also betting on it but we also see that esports has started attracting more and more elders into it. Thus make us believe that esports has the potential to overcome the sports itself, as the audience is increasing exponentially year by year.
Esports Insider: Are there any advantages live esports wagering in casinos may offer? Do you think betting in this environment could yield an overall increase in volume and size of wagers?
Peter: Adding esports betting to the casino floor can distinguish the venue for sure. Sports betting is already well spreading over many leading casinos worldwide. Esports odds are sought after the sportsbooks more, so casinos will follow the trend in the near future.
“Imagine this happening in more casinos worldwide – it will definitely offer another level of excitement for players that like esports, gambling and entertainment”
In 2017 we brought a CS:GO team to our stand at ICE Totally Gaming and we experienced the hype from all of the esports fans, followers, enthusiasts, and visitors in general. A part of our participation highlighted the worldwide phenomenon of people wanting to interact with professional esports players and teams as well as analyzing the in-play betting. Imagine this happening in more casinos worldwide – it will definitely offer another level of excitement for players that like esports, gambling and entertainment. Meeting your favourite teams and players and feeling the adrenaline of winning together with them is definitely the next level of gaming experience and will definitely have an impact on the betting behaviour.
Esports Insider: What would prevent esports from making it into casinos? Consequently, what do esports have going for them that would aid in this ambition?
Peter: Regulations that are restrictive rather than leading to improvements. Sometimes, the lack of knowledge and experience can lead to unreasonable decision preventing many esports fans to wager on their favourite teams. The global phenomenon of esports is going to expand in the following years so organizations, suppliers, and operators need to establish good practices on which the whole esports betting ecosystem will grow. A unified concept of the way esports will be presented to the public is currently missing.
Once all the stakeholders involved are ready with such a concept that would push esports to the next level.
What we can take away from the Downtown Grand’s experimentation with esports and this discussion is that esports betting in casinos offers some valuable qualities. As Peter mentioned, esports is a way for casinos and sportsbooks alike to diversify their portfolio; esports and casinos budding friendships today can be likened to how gaming houses reinvented themselves early on. Over time, casinos became more of an inclusive entertainment experience with restaurants, nightclubs and events and no longer solely about gambling – esports fit right into this equation.
The Luxor Hotel is a perfect example: having amassed a wealth of press attention pertaining to their Esports Arena, the dazzling gaming stage is looking to tap into the valuable millennial audience, as well. In partnership with esports betting platform Unikrn, the MGM Grand also hosts a series of weekly tournaments in their designated ‘LEVEL UP‘ space with cash and UnikrnGold prizes, further broadening their reach.
Esports is a marketer’s dream as the core audience – males 18 to 30 years old – is notoriously hard to attain since they typically don’t consume traditional media such as television or radio as their predecessors did. Can we expect to see more casinos hosting esports viewing events? We can safely assume so. While esports has an undeniable presence, it may just need to be a bit more girthy before more casinos decide to start consistently picking it up in their residences.
Disclaimer: This is part of a sponsored content series with UltraPlay