Are Las Vegas’ poker rooms under threat from esports?


Ante Up Magazine esports

Ever since the state of Nevada legalized casino gambling in 1931, the city of Las Vegas has become synonymous with the game of poker. Alongside other classic casino entertainments such as blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps, the card game of poker has managed to make Las Vegas one of the most popular tourist cities in the whole of the U.S.

More than 40 million people visit Las Vegas each year. But as demographics change, it seems as though a growing proportion of Sin City’s visitors are seeking something other than the poker rooms and roulette tables.

With gambling revenues in Las Vegas nosediving and coming up against increased online gaming competition, the city’s casino resorts and hotels have started to diversify their attractions. This means that less promotional attention is placed on classic casino games like poker, roulette and blackjack, and instead visitors are being tempted in with a variety of family-friendly attractions.

These range from theme parks such as Adventuredome and Wet’n’Wild, to a series of attractions that aim to put video gaming at the center of Las Vegas’ activities. The biggest example of this can be seen by taking a brief trip to the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor casino and hotel.

This new 30,000 square-foot attraction is devoted to the competitive gaming phenomenon. As such it boasts a special competition stage, a 50-foot LED wall for screening the action, and an array of gaming consoles, retro arcade games and virtual reality gaming equipment.

Rather than tempting visitors through classic casino games such as poker, people who come to the HyperX Esports Arena can instead watch and play a wide variety of the biggest titles in esports. This means that you can play iconic battle arena games like League of Legends, try a hot new battle royale title such as Apex Legends, or even play against friends in a Super Mario party.

However, it’s when the pro gamers come to the HyperX Esports Arena that the crowds really start coming in. We’ve seen the NBA2K League making an appearance at the gaming stadium, and there’s also a Rainbow Six Siege minor tournament planned for July 2019.

In addition to the HyperX arena, we have also seen the Downtown Grand making the XLIVE esports series a central part of the city’s gaming community. Plus there has also been a Casino Esports Conference in Las Vegas in 2019 that aimed to make the city a focal point for touring tournaments that showcase competitive gaming events for the likes of Counter Strike Global Offensive, Dota 2 and Overwatch.

While many gaming fans will be happy just to attend at watch the on-screen action, many more are expected to be heading to places like where they can get tips on which team to wager on and then watch a live stream to see whether they’ve won their bets.

Las Vegas is planning to make betting on esports a significant part of their new range of attractions. In conjunction with plans to boost the traditional sports betting infrastructure within the city by featuring video games, it is hoped that a younger generation of visitors could flock to Las Vegas.

Obviously there is still no shortage of traditional gambling entertainments within the desert city. All of the classic casinos like Bellagio, Caesars Palace and the Golden Nugget host a variety of poker tournaments over dozens of tables. But with online alternatives starting to permeate all walks of life, it looks like it isn’t just the online poker craze that is affecting the way that Las Vegas operates.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor