ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Atlantic City’s new Call Of Duty is this: To become the East Coast center of competitive video game tournaments, also known as esports.
The activity is rapidly growing in popularity across the country and around the world, and the New Jersey gambling resort wants to become a major player in the nearly $1 billion global market.
Proponents see it as a way for Atlantic City’s nine casinos to add revenue and help endure the slow winter months. And in the hyper-competitive East Coast casino market, they also believe it can attract tourists whose interest in gambling is marginal or non-existent.
Isle of Man-based Continent 8 is building a $5 million data center at the Atlantic City Convention Center to serve not only the data-intensive esports industry, but internet gambling and sports betting technologies as well. It should be ready in April.
Two Atlantic City casinos held tournaments last year, and another will host an industry convention this weekend. And Stockton University is joining the Eastern College Athletic Conference’s intercollegiate esports competition, building a room at its Galloway campus, near Atlantic City.
Gambling and technology companies believe esports is a natural progression in Atlantic City’s ongoing diversification of its gambling market.
“The sky is the limit on this,” said Barbara DeMarco, a spokeswoman for Continent 8. “Sports wagering is bringing in millennials, and this group likes to work off a mobile device. Do we catch that before someone else does?”