All Hail Esports: Atlantic City Gets Into Video Games, With Caesars Hosting Major Event

[toc]Atlantic City is the latest entity trying to cash in on the growing market of esportsCaesars will host a major professional esport event starting next week, the first time such a tournament has taken place in the New Jersey resort town.

The Caesars esports event, at a glance

The first-ever Gears Pro Circuit Atlantic City Open is slated to take place Friday, March 31, through Sunday, April 2. The event based on the popular video game will feature a prize pool of $200,000, with $70,000 for first place.

Other details of the event:

  • More than 48 teams from North America and around the world will be on hand to compete.
  • Featured action and the final stages of the event will take place on the main stage in the Circus Maximus theater.
  • A live stream of some of the competition will be available here.
  • Spectator tickets cost $20 for the weekend.

Following Las Vegas’ lead?

If Atlantic City is going to get into the esports craze, it can follow the lead of another prolific gambling city: Las Vegas.

Nevada has been attempting to embrace esports as a way to attract a younger demographic. Government officials and casino executives have gone so far as to make it a priority to turn Las Vegas into the “esports capital of the world.”

The movement is already underway. The Downtown Grand has tried to set itself up as an early hub of esports activity for Las Vegas. There are also dedicated esports arenas in the city. Some Nevada sportsbooks have already started taking bets on esports, as well.

Whether AC will get into esports in a more serious way remains to be seen. But if it does, there’s a template already being started across the country. The owner of TEN ACGlenn Straub — has said the former Revel will eventually have an esports lounge.

Atlantic City has actually been ahead of the curve on skill-based video game gambling, with several casinos — Caesars included — featuring the new machines.

More on esports coming to AC

The Press of AC had more on the coming esports event, and the opportunities for esports in the future:

“Caesars is always looking at ways to bring innovative gaming and entertainment experiences to the market,” said Kevin Ortzman, president of Caesars and Bally’s Atlantic City. …


“Gears eSports is proud to be partnering with Caesars Entertainment on this major championship event in Atlantic City,” said Jack Felling, lead eSports Producer on Gears of War at Microsoft. “We are excited to work with a flagship brand like Caesars and are exploring future opportunities to bring innovative entertainment experiences to their properties around the world. We look forward to welcoming Gears of War, Xbox and video game fans from the area to watch some of the most passionate personalities in eSports compete live in Atlantic City.”

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Sports betting and esports?

There won’t be legal betting in AC on the Gear of Wars event. But is esports betting something that could happen in the future?

It’s at least possible. New Jersey has long been fighting to have legal sports betting in the state; a federal court case is currently being appealed to the US Supreme Court.

If New Jersey were to move toward trying to regulate esports betting, it’s not at all clear it would face the same federal prohibition — PASPA — that exists on traditional sports betting. The major professional sports leagues — NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL — have been the plaintiffs in the ongoing sports betting case.

Who would be the plaintiff under PASPA — or if anyone would even want to try to stop esports betting — is not at all clear. Pro sports leagues — particularly NBA franchises and the league itself, have started investing in esports, however.

Photo by BagoGames under under license CC BY 2.0

About the Author

Dustin Gouker

Aside from his role as editor at, Dustin Gouker writes extensively about the legal online gaming and US online poker industries, having played poker recreationally for his entire adult life. He has also covered sports for The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner, among others.