Las Vegas Esports Betting May Be Getting Ready For Primetime

Written By Marc Meltzer on March 21, 2022Last Updated on July 20, 2022
Nevada esports betting stable gambling option

Esports is back in Las Vegas! Maybe.

In 2016, Downtown Grand tried to use esports to lure guests to its casino just outside of the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas. This was the beginning of the first wave of esports in Las Vegas.

Even though other casinos like MGM Grand and Luxor opened venues catering to competitive video games, the trend wasn’t as sticky as casino operators hoped for. The HyperX Arena at Luxor is the only venue that has stood the test of time.

While esports is gone from Downtown Grand, HyperX Arena still hosts competitions and more at Luxor.

Esports betting in Las Vegas

Esports and esports betting could be making a comeback in Las Vegas and throughout the Silver State. The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) now has an Esports Technical Advisory Committee that will meet regularly to discuss possible esports betting options.

The topic of esports betting in casinos will continue. The Casino Esport Conference (CEC) will take place for the sixth time on March 23 and 24 in Las Vegas. The conference will discuss the potential of esports betting in casinos around the country.

After some time away from Las Vegas, the Golden Tee World Championship took place at the Westgate for the first time earlier this year. Once again, this live event offered wagering on the event at the host venue. This hasn’t always been the case for esports events.

EVO 2022, the Evolution Championship Series, is returning to Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas in August. The competition returns to Las Vegas after taking some time away from Las Vegas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

EVO 2022 will be the largest esports that will take place in Nevada this year.

MGM Resorts hasn’t offered wagering on this event in the past. Perhaps that will change with BetMGM offering betting odds in August. This could become clear after the NGCB Esports Technical Advisory Committee meets.

Esports betting in Las Vegas could finally be going in the direction its forefathers envisioned less than a decade ago.

Nevada Esports Technical Advisory Committee

Esports continues to expand around the world. In the US, competitive video game competitions are still popular. These events can take place in person at venues like HyperX Arena and also at home using a high-speed internet connection.

While popular in the US, the country is a bit behind the rest of the world in esports. Some of the most popular esports competitions take place in stadia 40,000 and larger. Gambling on esports is similarly larger outside of the US.

The Nevada Esports Technical Advisory Committee hopes to change esports betting in the Silver State. In turn, this could help expand esports betting around the country.

The committee had its first meeting on March 1 to get on the same page and lay the groundwork for expanding esports betting in Nevada. Some of the topics for the meeting included:

  • A presentation by Senior Deputy Attorney General John Michela. He’ll discuss the current regulatory structure and the process for approval of wagering on esports events in Nevada.
  • A presentation by Ian Smith, Commissioner at the Esports Integrity Commission. He’ll discuss current issues related to integrity in esports events and competitions.
  • Esports Entertainment Group will share recent developments on esports betting in New Jersey so Nevada can see how other states are operating.

Updating the process of approval for esports event wagering might be the most important topic discussed. Anecdotally, sportsbook operators have said that it’s not feasible to offer esports betting as often as they’d like.

The current esports betting approval process dictates that every event must be submitted individually. The time it takes to offer esports event wagering doesn’t match the revenue generated from the event.

If this changes, it could become reasonable for Nevada sportsbooks to invest time and money into esports betting.

The committee met in July and it appears as though Nevada will see more esports betting in the future. The committee will meet next in November.

Casino Esport Conference

Creating a safe and regulated environment for esports betting is crucial to its success. The next step in its growth will be when more casinos and sportsbook operators offer esports betting to their customers.

The Casino Esport Conference will happen shortly after the NGCB esports meeting. This could prove to be a momentum driver for esports betting in Nevada and around the country.

The conference will have speakers from all parts of the esports industry including casino operators, regulators and game manufacturers. These are the people who will be able to bring esports betting to the masses.

Esports betting needs to put a few things in order to be appealing to consumers.

First, the events have to be played with integrity by players. Second, there have to be regulations to make consumers comfortable risking money. Finally, there must be fun and interesting events to wager on.

In a perfect world, these discussions along with the NGCB committee meeting will allow the sportsbooks to step up their esports betting efforts.

EVO 2022 At Mandalay Bay

The Evolution Championship Series will take place from Aug. 5-7 at the Michelob ULTRA Arena inside Mandalay Bay. EVO is the world’s largest and longest-running fighting game tournament.

Esports competitions can take place in-person or remotely. However, there’s nothing like a live esports competition with a large crowd cheering on.

Rick “TheHadou” Thiher, General Manager of Evo shared some thoughts on returning to Las Vegas.

“Our team is incredibly excited to once-again host them in offline competition at Evo this August. There is nothing like the global Fighting Game Community’s energy when we gather for Evo, and I’m greatly looking forward to seeing what happens when we start the event series’ next chapter together later this year.”

This year EVO will feature nine fighting games. Thiher added that “we are thrilled to present a slate of fighting games representing so many of the genre’s player-bases for Evo 2022.” The titles for competitions at EVO this year are:

  • Street Fighter V: Champion Edition – PS4 (Capcom)
  • Guilty Gear -Strive- PS4 (Arc System Works)
  • Mortal Kombat 11: Ultimate – PS4 (Warner Bros. Games)
  • TEKKEN 7 – PS4 (BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment)
  • DRAGON BALL FighterZ – PS4 (BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment)
  • Granblue Fantasy: Versus – PS4 (Cygames and XSEED)
  • Skullgirls: 2nd Encore – PS4 (Autumn Games)

In addition to the competitions at EVO in Las Vegas, there will be a vendor village, artist alley, free play arcade and more.

Great events like the Super Bowl and March Madness attract bettors for all sports. Creating great esports events with safe betting opportunities could once again be on the horizon for this industry.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He’s the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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