Agua Caliente Casino expands esports event series to Cathedral City
Sharpr is a weekly newsletter covering the intersection of esports and betting
Hey everyone, Cody here.
This week we take a look at “eSports After Dark,” Agua Caliente Casino’s weekly esports tournament series aimed at bringing a younger, more lively crowd to its floors.
In my opinion, the intersection of esports and casinos is ripe with opportunities to capture the next generation of consumers. Using Agua Caliente as a launch pad, we walk through some past examples of this convergence, as well as what works, and what doesn’t.
In this week’s edition of Sharpr…
Agua Caliente Casino expands esports event series to Cathedral City.
PandaScore appoints former Uber manager as head of customer success.
DAZN to broadcast Counter-Strike: Global Offensive events through media rights deal.
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Agua Caliente Casino expands esports event series to Cathedral City
Agua Caliente Casino’s Cathedral City location has launched “eSports After Dark,” allowing guests at its sports bar to compete in esports tournaments for cash prizes.
Guests can compete in a variety of tournaments, including Street Fighter, Tekken, Super Smash Bros., and Tetris on Wednesday evenings over the course of eight weeks (the series is four weeks in at the time of writing).
All competitions are organized and hosted by esports tournament company Conflux Gaming.
Pearl Aguinaldo, senior director of marketing communications at Agua Caliente Casinos, told Esports Insider the Cathedral City launch has been an “exciting initiative” for the company.
“At its core, esports is an investment in our future, as it’s a stepping stone for young gamers to be a returning casino customer for years to come.
“The concept is still under the radar, especially for casinos, which means this entertainment is hard to find anywhere else. We understand that this industry will grow exponentially, so we jumped on the opportunity to invest in this new gaming vertical.”
🦈 Sharpr Take: As consumers age up across all verticals, esports has drawn a level of curiosity and interest to age down audiences and reach the next generation–land-based casinos included.
In March, Esports Entertainment Group partnered with the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City to host New Jersey’s first ever skill-based esports wagering event. The two-day tournament was headlined by a $9,000 prize pool, and leaned on EEG’s proprietary technology (formerly known as LANDuel) to facilitate 1-vs-1 wagers amongst attendees. According to event data from the company, 53% of matches played during the event were wagered on.
In 2018, Complexity Gaming inked one of the first-ever commercial deals between an esports team and a casino when it partnered with the WinStar World Casino and Resort. The agreement sought to leverage Complexity’s talent through meet-and-greets with guests staying at the resort and other activations.
The most ambitious example of this convergence was Allied Esports Entertainment’s HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, which courted more than 300,000 visitors in 2019. Despite the unignorable scale of the 30,000-sq foot venue and its prominent position on the Las Vegas strip, its future today remains a bit more uncertain.
In August 2021, a few months after renewing its naming rights deal with HyperX, Allied Esports Entertainment said the company was exploring a potential sale of the arena, leaning on Minneapolis-based investment firm Lake Street Capital Markets to advise on the management of its esports assets.
Last month, Allied said the HyperX Arena experienced increased foot traffic from a rise in events, but noted it was in “active discussions with several interested parties” about “strategic alternatives” for its esports operations.
During a panel discussion at the Indian Gaming Tradeshow and Convention, Seth Schorr, CEO of Las Vegas-based Fifth Street Gaming, along with other experts from the esports and gambling industries, all agreed it’s necessary to find a sweet spot for how esports would fit into Sin City.
“I know with 100% certainty esports has [a] zero percent shot of working in your casinos without your involvement,” Schorr said.
“The second we stop (prioritizing gambling), we lose sight of our business and our advantage.”
To Schorr’s point, esports programming needs a plan to be successful in casino environments. And for what it’s worth, Agua Caliente Casino’s weekly esports tournaments aren’t a bad application.
It’s unclear what the attendance looks like at its eSports After Dark events, but if the casino can bring in even a small handful of customers that otherwise would have stayed at home, that’s a pretty meaningful win.
In many cases, you don’t have to boil the ocean to see results.
PandaScore appoints former Uber manager as head of customer success
Esports data provider PandaScore has named Daivd Trehondart as its head of customer success.
Trehondart will join PandaScore after spending three-and-a-half years with data and intelligence services company Palantir as its deployment strategist. Prior to that, Trehondart managed B2B clients for Uber Ears as its restaurant operations manager.
PandaScore CEO Flavien Guillocheau said Trehondart’s experience outside of the esports industry will bring a “new perspective” to the business.
“While operators are aware of esports and the growing need to offer esports betting to players, many still need support in order to unlock the full potential of both the vertical itself,” Guillocheau said.
Trehondart will lead PandaScore’s B2B services, building rapport with clients and arming them with a better understanding of its platform in order to maximize their results.
Trehondart will also manage technical integrations, identify performance improvement opportunities, and help customers get involved with the product.
In April, PandaScore released its esports betting whitepaper: How to build a successful esports betting product. It’s well worth a read if you haven’t already.
🗞 In the news
PandaScore is hosting a public meetup at its Paris office with presentations on AI and machine learning in esports on June 28.
DAZN has reached a media rights deal with BLAST to broadcast Counter-Strike: Global Offensive events.
Santander has signed a three-year sponsorship deal with the League of Legends European Championship and Liga Latinoamérica.
📈 By the numbers
The global esports audience will grow 8.7% YoY to reach 532M people in 2022.
Entain has acquired BetCity in a $888M deal.
Approximately 74% of gambling organizations say ‘improved use of data’ is a focus area for their 2022 plans.
MGM Resorts has reached an agreement to sell its Gold Strike Tunica casino in Mississippi for $450M.