Review Fix chats with Evolve Labs Founder Adam Sellke, who discusses the possible impact of eSports on casino culture.The founder/ co-founder of several startups (Surtsey, Madoi, Ripshark, Tunebloom, Evolve Labs and more), Sellke has served in individual contributor and management roles at Merck, BBDO, Carlson Companies, UnitedHealth Group and Best Buy.
For more information on Evolve Labs, click here.
Review Fix: How would eSports work in a casino?
Adam Sellke: We’re currently seeing skill-based, first-person gambling games coming onto casino floors. For example, companies like GameCo are licensing games for deployment in Atlantic City later this year. That’s definitely a first step, but I’m not necessarily a big proponent of these machines. First off, they call them “VGMs” or video game gambling machines. I fundamentally disagree that eSports should be considered gambling. It seems to be more of a shoehorn solution where the industry is responding to the opportunity by trying to make eSports fit into what they know. Secondly, these game titles aren’t part of any bona fide eSports franchises. They don’t have the appeal that “real” eSports games have all over the world.
Also, companies like Ourgame are opening large 14,000 square foot, 200 seat arenas in places like Beijing and Las Vegas (William Hill is another for example in the UK, who have 2,375 of the c8,700 Licensed Betting Offices in that area, where you can learn about e-sports betting odds online). Presumably, these will enable a new level of head-to-head, skill-based competitions, playing true eSports titles. I haven’t seen how matchmaking would work, though. Perhaps a seat could be assessed various entry “fees”, where a higher entry fee would essentially correspond to tougher competition (similar to what you see in poker rooms). A potential downside to this might be that without rank verification, fees would be the only way to set or “regulate” skill-level matches. A shark vs minnow environment could ensue. We have some interesting ideas on how to address skill-disparities, but we’re keeping that under wraps for now.
Review Fix: Why should eSports be in a casino?
Sellke: I am not sure they should be… in my opinion, casino operators need to answer that question with more than “because we want them to be.” Most of these early examples aren’t that innovative and look a little uninspired.
What if the answer is they shouldn’t be? What should casinos do to still participate in this shift in entertainment?
I personally think they should because casinos should be about grown-up entertainment. And competitive eSports for money should be only allowed amongst grown-ups (or pros). What form that entertainment takes is yet to be determined. We have some ideas that we’re not yet seeing out there, so it’s a very exciting time for us.
Review Fix: What’s wrong with the casino industry and how could eSports help “fix” things?
Sellke: Like a lot of big incumbents, I am concerned that the casino industry has become complacent, or worse, lazy. That’s death. Fixing it starts with acknowledging a problem… and then committing to solve it. Solving it will mean things have to change!
Esports is a watershed moment for the casino industry, but the industry will have to step out of its comfort zone in order to make it work for them.
Review Fix: What games do you think would work best in a casino?
Sellke: All you gotta do is look at your top MOBAs and other competitive titles. If it’s fun for free, it’s even more so for money.
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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