Atlantic City’s First Ever Esports Championship Is On At Caesars This Weekend

Posted By Joss Wood on March 29, 2017 - Last Updated on February 19, 2021

[toc]Caesars Atlantic City has organized another landmark event to bring people to the casino: the city’s first ever major esports championship.

If you are scratching your head and asking what esports are, the odds are you’re over forty. Esports is the generic name given to video game tournaments played on PC, XBox One, Sony Playstation and mobile devices.

Esports is growing like the internet in its early days, with online viewer figures comparable to major sporting events like the Olympics or Super Bowl.

Caesars brings inaugural esports event to AC

From March 31 to April 2, Caesars is playing host to the Gears Pro Circuit Atlantic City Open which is offering $200,000 in cash prizes.

The event is one of the Gears Pro global circuit events, where teams from around the world compete in tournaments with million dollar prize pools.

The Gears of War game, which the event features, has a story line that has been described as a “conflict between humanity, the subterranean reptilian hominids known as the Locust Horde, and their mutated counterparts, the Lambent & the Swarm.”

The Coalition, a Canadian video game developer, produced the game. Microsoft, which itself makes the Xbox One, now owns Gears of War.

President of Caesars and Bally’s Atlantic City Kevin Ortzman commented:

“Caesars is always looking at ways to bring innovative gaming and entertainment experiences to the market, and we are thrilled to partner with Microsoft’s Xbox and The Coalition to bring the very first major eSports event to Atlantic City this month and welcome top professional and amateurs gamers from around the world.”

Esports is the new new thing

Apart from the sheer entertainment value of the event, Caesars has more strategic reasons for getting involved in esports.

Globally esports is on a growth rampage, and esports betting is following suit. In the gaming world, esports is the new new thing.

Top esports betting operator Pinnacle recently announced that it had taken its five millionth esports bet since 2010. Pinnacle has seen annual growth in the number of esports bets of 127 percent.

That’s a growth rate that Caesars would like to see on its financial reports.

Over in Nevada, the Nevada Gaming Control Board has got behind the concept of esports betting. Late last year, the Las Vegas Downtown Grand Casino and William Hill took their first esports bet.

There is now a Nevada Esports Alliance (NVEA), which aims to make Nevada a global hub for esports.

Seth Schorr, CEO of Fifth Street Gaming and chairman of the Las Vegas Downtown Grand Casino, is a founding director of the NVEA. The group also includes as members William Hill USA, and Unikrn, a specialist esports betting operator.

There is trend here, and Caesars wants to be a part of it.

Demographics are critical to the casino industry

Secondly, esports attracts a younger demographic. The bricks and mortar casinos in Atlantic City have struggled to bring in younger players. As such, the age profile of their customers has been steadily increasing.

Esports is most popular with the 25 to 34-year-old audience. This audience has higher than average earnings and a high proportion of female fans.

The esports millennial demographic is exactly the demographic AC’s casinos need to target to secure their future.

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The beginning of Caesars and esports

Partnering with an experienced esports tournament organizer such as Gears eSports is a great way for Caesars to take the first step in understanding the new industry.

Lead eSports Producer on Gears of War at Microsoft Jack Felling said:

“Gears eSports is proud to be partnering with Caesars Entertainment on this major championship event in Atlantic City. The Gears Pro Circuit will be offering a record-setting $200,000 prize pool for the area. We are excited to work with a flagship brand like Caesars and are exploring future opportunities to bring innovative entertainment experiences to their properties around the world.

We look forward to welcoming Gears of War, Xbox, and video game fans from the area to watch some of the most passionate personalities in eSports compete live in Atlantic City.”

Felling’s comment indicates an obvious aspiration to expand the partnership to future events and other locations in Caesars’ portfolio.

Event details

  • Doors open for spectators: Friday at 2 p.m., Saturday at 10 a.m., Sunday at 10 a.m.
  • Open bracket teams: Registration and warmup Friday at 12 p.m., match starts at 2 p.m.
  • Pool play teams: Must be available for Media Day Friday 9 a.m., match starts at 4 p.m.
  • Stream schedule: Starts Friday at 4 p.m., Saturday at 10 a.m., Sunday at 10 a.m. on http://live.gearsofwar.com

Over and above the $200,000 in prize money, all players and spectators will be eligible for a raffle of rare Gears of War and gaming items. The raffles will take place after the Grand Finals on Sunday.

Players and spectators are invited to a party to celebrate the event on Sunday evening.

Image by Roman KruglovCC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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Joss Wood

Though Joss Wood's primary focus is on international regulated online gambling markets, he also follows the legal New Jersey online gambling industry and writes extensively about sports betting. Previously he worked as the editor of Poker Industry Pro, worked in business and finance, and played online poker professionally for seven years.

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