The Esports Arena Las Vegas will open its doors inside the Luxor casino resort on March 22 and become the Strip’s first venue dedicated to competitive video gaming.
Built in what was formerly the LAX nightclub, the 30,000-square-foot multilevel arena features a competition stage backed by a 50-foot LED video wall. The facility plans to host both amateur and professional gaming tournaments.
The March 22 kickoff, however, is an invitation-only event. The grand opening will include a video gaming tournament that will be live-streamed, with specific details to be announced at a later date.
Luxor owner MGM Resorts developed and constructed the esports arena with Allied Esports, an esports tournament promoter and organizer. Allied has a 15,000-square-foot esports arena in Orange County, California, as well as “Big Betty,” a self-contained traveling esports truck that expands into a stage.
“With Las Vegas rapidly becoming a hub for esports, Esports Arena Las Vegas at Luxor will be the city’s home for competitive gaming and interactive entertainment,” Allied Esports CEO Jud Hannigan declared.
While the Luxor esports arena is the first of its kind on the Strip, it’s not Las Vegas’ first esports tournament space. That distinction belongs to Neonopolis in downtown Las Vegas, which opened its 15,000-square-foot Millennial Esports venue in February of 2017.
The Nevada Gaming Policy Committee approved esports betting in 2016, and William Hill took the first wager on the outcome of a competitive video gaming match that November.
Casinos Ready for Esports?
Along with skill-based gaming machines, gaming analysts view esports as one way to bring younger demographics to Las Vegas casinos. Fifth Street Gaming CEO Seth Schorr, whose company owns the Downtown Grand and its esports lounge, said last year that “Las Vegas needs to consistently reinvent itself to remain relevant to the up-and-coming generation.”
However, some major casino operators remain unenthused by the emerging gaming sector that has quickly ballooned into a multibillion-dollar industry. Last fall’s Casino Esports Conference (CEC) held at the Westgate failed to attract representatives from the Strip’s main players.
While some regional operators attended, CEC organizer Ben Fox confirmed that no representatives from casino operators such as MGM, Las Vegas Sands, Caesars, or Wynn stopped by the two-day event.
Last year, a new non-profit advocacy group called the Nevada Esports Alliance (NVEA) formed with the goal of making Las Vegas America’s esports capital. NVEA member companies include MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, Downtown Grand, and William Hill.
Schorr, who is a NVEA director, would like to see additional casino operators join the cause. “Esports is one of the most important platforms to speak to millennials and create experiences that will drive continued visitation,” Schorr explained.
Critics believe the rush to bring millennials to Las Vegas won’t pay off. The US Census Bureau said recently that those between the ages of 18 and 34 are currently making less than $30,000 a year.
Still, esports tournament revenues continue to grow. The International, the richest esports event, paid the five-person Dota 2 winning team nearly $10.9 million last September.