New Jersey’s Stockton University held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week for its new Esports Innovation Center (EIC). The move is set to help put Atlantic City and the state at large on the map as one of the leaders in this growing industry, according to Tim Sullivan, the Chief Executive Officer of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA).
The opening was held within the framework of the first Casino Esports Conference (CEC) on the East Coast, held at Stockton’s campus on Oct. 18 and 19. The event featured panel discussions on the state of esports, how the casino industry can get involved through wagers and hosting events, and how Atlantic City can grab a piece of the esports pie.
The EIC at Stockton is located on the Boardwalk as part of the university’s Residential Complex. The center is a nonprofit that was set up in partnership with the NJEDA and Stockton to promote esports in South Jersey and Atlantic City. It comes as esports is expected to generate $1.38 billion in global revenue for the year, according to officials.
“The EIC will be a driver of strategic workforce development and will help to attract industry-supporting businesses and events,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Governor Phil Murphy’s economic development plan is focused on bolstering high-growth sectors that create inclusive career opportunities.”
“The EIC, as a center of knowledge and innovation, is adding to the momentum in this emerging and particularly exciting industry,” Sullivan added. “This week’s ribbon cutting is an important step forward in accomplishing Governor Murphy’s vision for a stronger and fairer NJ economy.”
Sullivan noted that the EIC is the latest addition to Atlantic City’s resurgence, which is bringing jobs, private investments, and new activity to the city, and showing that there is much to do in the city in addition to casinos. But convincing casinos to get more involved with esports is also set to be a big part of the EIC’s mission, said Executive Director Andrew Weilgus.
“We want to help define and craft a casino strategy where they can take advantage of this growing boom of esports, both with events that come into Atlantic City, as well as potential wagering opportunities,” Weilgus stated.
Weilgus said the EIC is also partnering with several local community organizations, like Stockton and the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City, to hold events promoting esports. The center also wants to eventually attract other esports companies to set up locations and build games in Atlantic City.
“We really believe we are going to create a great ecosystem where the next generation of esports games can be built and tested here,” Weilgus said. “All of these technologies are advancing. They are in their infancy. The center is here to promote and craft these ideas.”
Stockton Chief Information Officer Scott Huston added that there is an opportunity to educate traditional casino and hospitality executives about the esports industry. “They are going to need to learn esports in order to make better decisions,” he noted. “They can come back, get a certification or pick up a degree to learn how to make these modern choices and really cater to this industry as it continues to take off.”