Atlantic City may well be famous as one of New Jersey’s most famous gambling resorts, but the eastern seaboard betting mecca may soon be the adopted home of esports in the United States, at least if the state of New Jersey’s plans come to fruition.
The state has invested an initial sum of $200,000 towards the building of a brand new esports center in the city.
Partnering with Stockton University, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority announced that it had agreed to a deal with the university to create what it terms an ‘esports Innovation Centre” on the university campus in Atlantic City.
The hope is that this additional investment will help to ensure that Atlantic City becomes one of the foremost national hubs for the esports industry in the United States.
It will also have a significant beneficial impact on the esports program in colleges across the US, notably for Stockton University’s own esports organisations.
“Fastest-Growing College Sport”
Speaking about the state’s decision to invest in the new esports center in Atlantic City, the chief economic growth officer for New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority, Brian Sabina, explained why the state decided to get on board.
“I was shocked when I saw the numbers,” admitted Mr Sabina.
“It’s [esports] the fastest-growing college sport in America. Nearly 500 million people tune in to watch esports events.”
The research firm Newzoo estimating that the global revenue generated by esports in 2021 will increase by 14.5%, generating $1.08 billion in total, it is clear that the state feels that this significant investment will offer potentially lucrative and long-lasting returns.
Especially when you consider that the esports industry was not as adversely impacted as traditional sports during the current pandemic.
Diverse range of opportunities at the Center
The plan is for the center to not only serve as a hub for big esports events in the United States, both at professional and collegiate level, but also to provide an opportunity for people to develop skills that will benefit the esports industry in many different ways.
The aim is for the centre to work alongside private companies as well as other educational establishments to identify where there are shortages in particular skills within the industry so that graduates can be trained to fill these roles.
It is not only New Jersey that has decided to invest as the authority has said that further investment in the states esports drive will come from the likes of G3 sports, the Esports Entertainment Group, Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment, and Twitch.
Gambling Industry Changes?
This move could also instigate a review of the current provision of esports betting in New Jersey too.
The state does allow its citizens to bet on specially-agreed esports events, which are individually reviewed and agreed upon by the state Division of Gaming. Could this new move loosen those constraints and allow more citizens in the state to bet on more esports events?
Atlantic City does have its challengers as an esports hub. Philadelphia is developing its own Esports hub in the south of the City, the Fusion Arena, while the Esports Stadium in Arlington Texas is already rated as one of the top facilities in the world today.