Another Step Taken to Make Atlantic City the Nation’s Hub for Esports
ATLANTIC CITY — It's filling venues, making billions globally, and could employ your kid one day.
The competitive video gaming, a.k.a. esports, industry is growing fast, and another step has been taken in hopes of making New Jersey the nation's hub for related companies, events and innovation.
"The United States is probably the last market to emerge for esports, it's huge already in Asia and in Europe, and there are events that take place internationally all of the time," said Bill Penders, senior advisor for the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. "Most of the colleges across the country have their own esports teams, there are full scholarships being given to esports players."
The NJEDA on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding with Stockton University to establish an esports Innovation Center at the university's Atlantic City campus. With the signing, the NJEDA's initial funding can be released and work can begin to operationalize the center.
"The goal of the center is more about bringing together public and private partners to help innovate together, create workforce development, expand our academic offerings and kind of guide the future of esports in New Jersey and specifically in Atlantic City," said Scott Huston, Stockton's chief information officer.
In 2021, total esports revenues are expected to reach $250 million in North America. Globally, the number is expected to approach $9 billion by 2025.
"The esports industry as a whole requires individuals of all different skill sets in all different academic programs, so Stockton hopes to be able to hone in on that and provide the future workforce for esports that just continues to evolve and really just explode in popularity and demand," Huston added.
Experts see Atlantic City as a prime location for esports due to the available amenities and event space. Currently, wagering on esports is only permitted for events licensed by the Division of Gaming Enforcement, but wagering restrictions are expected to decrease as time goes on.
The NJEDA's investment is meant to further Gov. Phil Murphy's State of Innovation initiative launched in 2018, which focuses on technology-heavy industry sectors that have the potential to grow.